Google has introduced a new version of Chrome OS for older PC and Mac users called Chrome OS Flex. The new version is created from the same code base as Chrome OS and will be released alongside the software that is available for Chromebooks and other Chrome OS machines. The new operating systems will allow users to use some of Chrome OS’ features including background updates, sandboxing, Web apps, and Android phone notification syncing. Users will be able to download an early access version of Chrome OS Flex to their computers, or run it from a live USB, according to the company.
In a blog post, Google has detailed the new free-to-download Chrome OS Flex operating system that is built for businesses and schools. Just like Chrome OS, the new operating system offers access to Web apps and virtualisation, boots up quickly, and offers background system updates, according to Google. Chrome OS Flex will also offer proactive security with sandboxing and protection against viruses, ransomware, and phishing. The company says that Chrome OS Flex can be deployed quickly via USB sticks or network deployment, and a user’s cloud profile, settings, bookmarks and policies will sync after they log in.
As part of Chrome OS Flex, users will have access to the official Chrome browser, Google Assistant, and will be able to take advantage of cross-platform features with Android devices such as notification syncing. IT administrators will also be able to manage Chrome OS Flex devices alongside regular Chrome OS devices, according to Google. However, unlike Chromebook, Chromebox, and Chromebase devices, it appears that Chrome OS Flex users will not have access to the Google Play store.
This isn’t the first time Google’s cloud-centric operating system has been available to download for non-Chromebook users. CloudReady, an operating system built on the open-source Chromium OS, was previously developed by Neverware and used by schools and businesses. Google acquired Neverware in 2020, which helped create Chrome OS Flex for PC and Mac owners. Google has touted the advantages that Chrome OS offers for older hardware, including fast bootup times, updates, proactive protection, easy management, and says they do not slow down over time.
Google says that users can try out an early access version of Chrome OS Flex right away, as long as they have a compatible PC or Mac computer and an empty USB drive. Users will have to fill out a form before downloading the new operating system, and check if their devices are included in the certified models list.
- Visit the Chrome web store on Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS.
- Search for the Chromebook Recovery Utility and download the extension.
- Launch the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension, then click Get Started.
- Now choose from Select a model from a list, Select a manufacturer, or Select a product.
- Click on Continue, then insert your USB drive when prompted.
- Select your USB drive from the menu, click Continue and then click Create now.
Users can then boot a live version of Chrome OS Flex without any risk to their existing system, from the USB drive. They can also opt to install the OS permanently to the PC or Mac computer. However, Google says that the OS is in early access and users may experience some instability. A stable version of Chrome OS Flex will be available in the coming months, and CloudReady customers will be able to upgrade to Chrome OS for free, according to Google.