Google has finally released Chrome OS Flex, a new version of Chrome OS designed for schools and businesses . Google announced this new version in early 2022, in an early access preview, and the company has so far fixed 600 bugs, and is now ready to roll out Flex to businesses and schools. The idea of Chrome OS Flex is to revive old PCs and Macs, no longer updated .
Chrome OS Flex: new life to old PCs
Chrome OS Flex is primarily intended for businesses using older Windows PCs . Google has in fact tested and verified the new operating system on devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Toshiba and many other OEMs. Flex will also work on some older Macs , including some 10-year-old MacBooks, for a total of more than 400 compatible devices . Compatible Macs include the mid 2010 21.5 ″ iMac, some mid 2012, 2013 and 2014 11 ″ MacBook Airs. Early 2015 and 2017 13 ″ MacBook Air, and the late 2014 Mac mini.
Support for old hardware is Chrome OS Flex's big selling point , as businesses don't have to abandon existing hardware to get the latest versions of more modern operating systems. The idea of ChromeOS Flex is therefore to offer a free version of an operating system that can be used on old computers, where recent versions of macOS or Windows are no longer supported, without necessarily having to resort to Linux distributions, and to allow users to experience a ChromeBook without necessarily buying one .
As usual, the system can also be tested from a USB stick, without physical installation. In order to make the best use of the operating system, Google recommends that you meet the following minimum specifications : a computer with an Intel or AMD CPU, at least 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space. Of course, you need to be able to access your computer's BIOS / UEFI to boot from USB.
Chrome OS Flex shares much of the code with the standard version of Chrome OS , so many (but not all) of the features are available. We therefore find support for sandboxing and background updates. It offers integration with Android smartphones , cloud synchronization functionality for settings and bookmarks, as well as Google Assistant and other Big G technologies.However, you do not have access to the Play Store, it is not supported to run Android apps and running Windows virtual machines (VMs) using Parallels Desktop. In addition, access to the development environment with Linux is subject to compatibility with the hardware in use.
Chrome OS Flex was made possible thanks to the acquisition of Neverware by Google, which previously sold a version of the operating system based on Chromium OS (open-source version of ChromeOS) called CloudReady, which was designed precisely for those users who had need to convert old PCs to Chrome OS systems.
While it's designed for schools and businesses, not all of them will be able to easily upgrade to Chrome OS Flex . In particular, the main obstacle would be the current reliance on existing Windows apps and systems designed with Windows in mind. Chrome OS Flex, however, comes in a great time , which sees Microsoft abandoning support for millions of PCs with the release of Windows 11 or the incessant growth of malware (such as ransomware). The latter aspect could be of particular interest to companies that have been hit recently and are open to switching from Windows, and therefore looking for an easy and immediate alternative.