Google has a new plan to expand its growing Chromebook ecosystem, and it’s named Chrome OS Flex. This new version of Chrome OS can be installed for free on any PCs and Macs, and Google believes that it will be able to breathe some new life into old PCs used in schools and businesses.
Chrome OS Flex follows Google’s acquisition of Neverware back in 2020, which created a solution for bringing Chrome OS to older PCs named CloudReady. “Since then, we have been hard at work integrating the benefits of CloudReady into a new version of Chrome OS,” said Thomas Riedl, Director of Product, Enterprise and Education at Google.
Google is launching Chrome OS Flex in early access today, and you can try it on your PC or Mac without installing it by booting the OS directly from a USB drive. The company expects a stable version to be available in the coming months. “At that time, CloudReady customers will be upgraded to Chrome OS Flex for free,” Riedl said today.
In the meantime, Chrome OS Flex already shares the same codebase and release cadence as the regular Chrome OS that ships on all Chromebooks. “Chrome OS Flex delivers the official Chrome Browser, Google Assistant, and cross-device features in the same user interface as Chrome OS. And with Chrome Enterprise for Education Upgrade, IT can manage Chrome OS Flex devices and Chrome OS devices like Chromebooks side by side in the Google Admin console,” explained Riedl.
At a time when many Windows 10 PCs may not meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11, Chrome OS Flex could eventually become an increasingly attractive proposition as we get closer to Windows 10’s end of support date in 2025. So far, Chromebooks have been most successful in the US education market, but many organizations may be interested in a free, secure, and easy-to-manage operating system for their aging devices.
After Microsoft killed Windows 10X last year, should the Redmond giant be worried about Chrome OS Flex? The company did announce Windows 11 SE for cheap education laptops last Fall, but it’s not clear what kind of alternative Microsoft could offer for the aging PCs that Chrome OS Flex will be targeting.