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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 released Chrome OS Flex, a business and educational version that runs on old PCs and Macs. 

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Chrome OS Flex was announced earlier in the year and offered to selected users via preview access with some 600 bugs resolved during the beta period.

The aim is to make Chrome more widely available to organisations, specifically those that have older hardware. Google has been testing it on a range of Windows-based devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and so on, as well as some MacBooks, including 10-year-old models. More than 400 devices are certified to work with Chrome OS Flex, according to Google and its installation is a simple USB process. 

"We're working on more certifications every day, and even if your device isn't yet certified, you can still try Chrome OS Flex," explains Thomas Riedl, director of product, enterprise, and education at Google. 

How to install Chrome OS Flex

To try Chrome OS Flex, users will need to go to the Chrome Enterprise website and register. A USB drive is all 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. From 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. 

Benefits of Chrome OS Flex

Chrome OS Flex has been made possible by the acquisition of Neverware, which Google brought in 2020. The company previously sold an application called 'CloudReady' that let users convert old PC software into Chrome OS. Google has seen the financial opportunities here, recognising that updating an operating system is far less than upgrading hardware. So the first benefit companies will notice is a reduction in e-waste.

However, one of the biggest benefits is that Chrome OS Flex offers tighter security than other operating systems, such as Windows and macOS and that's also easier to manage from an IT perspective if all hardware on the books is operating under the same system. 

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