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Chrome OS Flex turns old PCs and Macs into Chromebooks

The OS is aimed at businesses that want a universal operating system without having to splash out on new hardware

The Chrome logo on a laptop

Google has announced "early access" to a new version of its Chrome operating system that works on older PCs and Macs. 

Chrome OS Flex is designed for businesses and educational institutions that want to deploy a universal operating system without having to splash out on new hardware. 

The new OS can be installed on any PC and Mac within minutes, according to Google, which adds that it should look and feel identical to the traditional Chrome OS one would find on a Chromebook as it's built from the same codebase. However, it notes that some features may be dependent on the age of the hardware, though didn't specify which. 

The technology behind Chrome OS Flex appears to have come from a recent Google acquisition. Neverware, which the tech giant bought at the end of 2020, previously sold the CloudReady service which let users convert old PCs into Chrome OS. Google said that it has been integrating "the benefits of CloudReady into a new version of Chrome OS". 

Google says Chrome OS Flex will allow IT departments to manage all their machines just like any other Chrome OS hardware. All devices can be managed through Google's Admin Console, with IT departments able to deploy specific software installs. 

The operating system also comes with built-in security tools, such as sandboxing technology to eliminate the need for antivirus software and IT controls to prevent data loss on lost or stolen devices. 

How to install Chrome OS Flex

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To try Chrome OS Flex, users will need to go to the Chrome Enterprise website and register. A USB drive is all they you need and it should only take a few minutes to set up on a PC or Mac device. 

From there, users need to follow three steps: create a bootable Chrome OS Flex USB drive to test it out prior to installation. Form there, users can install the OS and fully replace the existing operating system, and the USB drive can also be also used to deploy the OS to more devices on your organisation's network. 

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