Google today officially released Chrome OS Flex, a new version of Chrome OS designed for businesses and schools that can be installed and run on older PCs and Macs. Google first began testing Chrome OS Flex earlier this year, and the company has now fixed 600 bugs to roll out the stable version to businesses and schools today.
Chrome OS Flex is primarily designed for businesses using older Windows PCs, and Google has been testing and validating devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Toshiba, and more OEMs. Flex will even run on some older Macs, including some 10-year-old MacBooks.
Support for legacy hardware is Chrome OS Flex's biggest selling point, as businesses don't have to ditch existing hardware to get the latest modern OS. Over 400 devices are certified for use, and installation is simple, using a USB drive.
"We're doing more certifications every day, and even if your device isn't certified, you can still try Chrome OS Flex," explained Thomas Riedl, director of product, enterprise and education at Google. On devices that are not officially supported, users may experience minor issues, such as instability, or startup issues.
Google acquired Neverware in 2020 and then developed Chrome OS Flex, which previously sold an app called CloudReady that allowed users to run Chrome OS on older PCs.
"By installing ChromeOS Flex on your existing hardware, you're not only getting a great experience, but you're contributing to an important cause," Google said in a blog post. 40 million tons of e-waste is generated - this is the equivalent of throwing away 800 laptops every second. Upgrading devices to ChromeOS Flex, rather than replacing them entirely, is an impactful way to reduce waste and prevent this growing problem In addition, devices running ChromeOS Flex use an average of 19% less energy than other devices.”
In addition to improving sustainability by giving old machines new life, the operating system protects users from ransomware and malware, and updates are made in the background so users don't have to waste downtime, Google said. It's worth noting that Chrome OS Flex is on the same release cycle as Chrome OS, so it receives all updates instantly.
Not all businesses and schools will have an easy transition to Chrome OS Flex, especially if they rely on existing Windows apps and systems that were designed on top of Windows.
Chromebooks have certainly shown the world a powerful alternative to Windows, especially in education, and Chrome OS Flex is yet another option for those looking to get away from Windows.
Google is offering users the opportunity to try Chrome OS Flex on 50 devices for 30 days before purchasing a license. Pricing is unknown at this time.