Testing Chromebooks in the Beta Channel

beta (1)Every few weeks I receive a notification from Google that makes me chuckle. I’m easily amused. The message says we do not have the suggested 5% of our Chromebooks in the beta channel. At last count we had just over 17,100 Chromebooks in our district.

17,100 x 5% = 855 Chromebooks in Beta channel

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I seriously doubt many other district has 5% either. However, there is value to having some of our Chromebooks in the Beta channel. Almost all of our Chromebooks are currently in the Stable channel. Google explains the difference in the two channels this way:

  • Stable channel: This channel is fully tested by  the Chrome OS team, and is the best choice to avoid crashes and other problems. It’s updated roughly every 2-3 weeks for minor changes, and every 6 weeks for major changes.
  • Beta channel: If you want to see upcoming changes and improvements with low risk, use the Beta channel. It’s updated roughly every week, with major updates coming every 6 weeks, more than a month before the Stable channel gets them.

You can read more here: https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/1086915?hl=en

So, the beta channel gives us insight into what’s to come and the ability test whether we see any issues with the changes. We can report these issues to Google and/or if the issue isn’t fixed prior to the Stable channel being updated, we can even block the Stable update from being installed on our Chromebooks.

For example, the Stable channel is up to version 62. As of this writing we are holding our Chromebooks at version 60. The main reason is in a previous post entitled Change Chromebook Wallpaper for Sign On Screen I shared how to set the wallpaper for the sign on screen. Beginning in version 61, Google blurs the background to the point you can’t make out text or images. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. As someone else put it, “If I wanted a blurred background, I could use a blurred image.” Hopefully, this will be “fixed” soon. 

Some of you are using Chromebooks for yourself and these are the Chromebooks I could see us putting in the Beta channel. We don’t want Student Chromebooks in the Beta channel to avoid any negative impact the Beta channel may have on instruction.

If you have an FCPS Chromebook assigned to you and you’re interested in being one of our beta testers let me know via email. Include your serial number so I can move your device to the Beta Channel. I’m going to create a new topic in our private Google+ community for us to discuss any positives or negatives you experience.

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