Chrome Flex

Anyone who works in education or has kids in public school, it’s a sure bet that you’ve seen how pervasive Chromebooks are. Lightweight and inexpensive laptops, these durable devices are everywhere in schools. ChromeOS is a basic operating system, but because it ties into Google’s services at its core, it is quite powerful.

Google announced Chrome OS Flex, a new version of their operating system that works on Windows and Intel Mac PCs. Scharon Harding at Ars Technica has more.

Chrome OS Flex is basically the official Google version of CloudReady, which Google acquired when it bought Neverware in 2020. Flex allows individuals, schools, or businesses to download Chrome OS onto a USB drive for free (CloudReady charges a fee and annual subscription rate to schools and businesses, respectively) and install it onto their Mac or Windows PC. The OS could also be booted from a USB drive instead of installed or launched via network deployment by an IT department.

Google is positioning Chrome OS Flex as an answer to old Mac and Windows PCs that might not be able to handle the latest version of their native OS and/or that might not be owned by folks with budgets to replace the devices. Rather than buying new hardware, consumers or IT departments could install the latest version of Chrome OS Flex.

Chrome OS Flex is set to run on an identical code base and release schedule as the Chrome OS used by Chromebooks.

Ars Technica

While I am no fan of Google and its business model, I will give them credit for rolling out a piece of software to breathe new life into older machines. As someone who still uses a 2013 iMac daily, I find it frustrating that I cannot upgrade macOS on it. It was a powerful Mac when I purchased it. Technologically there is nothing holding it back from running a modern OS. Apple simply has decided it isn’t worth supporting.

Will I put Chrome OS Flex onto my iMac? No way. But, I am sure many people will. I would like to believe many people will and do recycle their computers when they upgrade. I have to also acknowledge that surely isn’t the case everywhere. If Chrome OS Flex can keep some tech out of the landfills, it’s a win for everyone.

Chrome OS Flex is available now as a beta. The stable version is available “in the coming months” according to Google’s blog.

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