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Chrome OS release best practices

As a Chrome administrator, you can choose when to roll out Chrome OS updates to devices by placing them on a release channel. Chrome OS currently provides 4 channels: Stable, Beta, Long-term support candidate (LTC), and Dev.

Note: From March 2022 onwards, an additional release channel Long-term support (LTS) will be available. For specific dates, see the Chrome release schedule.

Considerations

  • Moving a user from the stable channel to a more experimental channel of Chrome OS, such as from stable to beta, takes effect the next time the user reboots their device.
  • Moving from an experimental to a more stable channel, such as from development to stable, can take longer. The device stays on the current version of the development channel until the stable channel catches up, which can take some weeks.

Keep most users on the Stable Channel or LTS

The Stable channel has been fully tested by the Chrome OS test team and should be used by most of your users. It's updated every 2-3 weeks for minor releases, and every 4 weeks for major releases.

Available from March 2022, LTS is a version of the stable channel that gets feature updates less frequently, but still receives security fixes. If you usually manually update to new releases of Chrome and want a slower release cadence, you might prefer the LTS channel. This channel is updated every 6 months.

Keep 5% of your organization on the Chrome OS Beta channel

While the majority of your users will be on the Stable channel of Chrome OS, if your organization has a large number of Chromebooks, there are several reasons why you should always keep some devices on the Beta channel:

  • Your organization will get a 4-6 week preview of new features. Read about these features in the latest Google Chrome release notes.
  • Some features you discover may require you to communicate additional information to your organization.
  • Some features may not be suitable for all of your users, and you may need to investigate ways to block these features.
  • In some cases, you may find issues which could impact the use of the devices in your environment. Finding this out early enough with fewer devices will give you enough time to contact Google, and if we can’t resolve the issue, block the update before it hits all of your users.

As a general rule, we recommend you keep at least 5% of your devices on the Beta channel at all times. If you have multiple types of hardware, we recommend you keep 5% of each type of hardware on the Beta channel.

Google will actively investigate issues on the Beta channel. Please contact Enterprise support to report any issues that you notice.

Keep some users on the LTC channel

The LTC channel allows you to preview and test the LTS channel features 3 months before switching. Some features might not be suitable for all of your users, and you might need to investigate the impact of these features. You can report any issues you find to Chrome Enterprise support.

Keep some control devices on the Dev channel

It can be helpful to keep some control devices on the Dev channel, which will give you 9-12 week preview of what is coming to the stable version of Chrome OS. Benefits of being on the Dev channel include the following:

  • Your IT staff can test to make sure that your apps and systems are compatible with the latest Chrome OS software updates and feature changes.
  • While we automatically fix most issues before the release is marked as stable, we may not be able to catch all the corner cases which may uniquely impact your environment. Should any issues arise, your developers and IT staff can identify and report (via the Chromium site) any changes that may impact your environment before they reach the Beta or Stable channel.

Note that the Dev channel, by its nature of being an early release of Chrome, is not 100% stable, and should not be used in situations that require reliability. Since some instability is expected, the Dev channel is more useful for staying aware of upcoming features in the OS.

For more detailed information on Chrome release channels, see the Chromium developer site.

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