Google today announced early access to Chrome OS Flex, a free-to-use cloud-based OS that can convert Windows PCs or Apple’s Macs into Chromebooks. Aimed to be used for businesses and schools, the operating system can be installed “within minutes,” according to Google.
Chrome OS Flex is now available in early access
Chrome OS Flex is the official version of Cloudready, which Google acquired when it bought Neverware in 2020. Flex allows individuals, schools, or businesses to download Chrome OS onto a USB drive for free and install it onto their Mac or Windows PC.
Chrome OS Flex is Google’s solution to old Macs and PCs that might now be able to run the latest version of their native OS. So, instead of buying new hardware, companies or consumers could install the latest version of Flex instead.
“With such similar end-user and IT experiences, it’s also easy to transition from Chrome OS Flex to Chrome OS devices when you’re ready to purchase new hardware: With Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebases, you’ll experience end-to-end optimization across hardware and software with the strongest security and largest app ecosystem through the Google Play Store,” Riedl wrote in a blog post.
A spokesperson for Google told Ars Technica that the company does not have any plans to add Google Play Store and Android Apps to Chrome OS Flex as of yet since it is “more focused on the core experience of the OS first.”
Chrome OS Flex will add Google Assistant, the Chrome browser, and Nearby Sharing to any device. It also adds a Linux development environment for compatible hardware for schools and businesses.
Chrome OS Flex is currently available in early access mode on the Chrome Enterprise website but bugs are to be expected. According to Riedl, the OS has already been tested with and a stable version of Flex will launch in the coming months.
To provide a reliable and predictable experience, Google has tested and optimized many of the world’s most popular models of Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. Check the Certified models list to see all the models that are maintained by Google for Chrome OS Flex
“After login, a user’s cloud profile gets downloaded and automatically syncs their settings, bookmarks, and policies,” Riedl explained. For enterprise customers, no license cost is required but the Chrome Enterprise or Education Upgrades are required for management and support.