With the official release of ChromeOS Flex, existing PCs and Macs can now be converted into Chromebooks by switching their operating systems. The idea is that if you have an old Mac lying around that can’t run macOS 12 Monterey, you can use a bootable USB stick to install ChromeOS Flex on it and then test out what Google’s cloud-first operating system is has to offer.
Google released an early access copy of ChromeOS Flex earlier this year and started testing it. The company is urging people, organizations, and institutions to download the software to “easily experience modern computing with cloud-based administration” while extending the lifespan of outdated equipment and lowering e-waste. Since then, 600 issues have been fixed.
As a result of Google’s 2020 acquisition of Neverware, a business that provided the CloudReady program that enables customers to turn existing PCs into ChromeOS workstations, ChromeOS Flex was created.
More than 400 devices, including Macs launched after 2010 with 16GB of free storage, are certified to run the operating system. Individuals can use OS Flex for free, but organizations that use CloudReady will still need to pay a fee or a subscription cost.
Because ChromeOS Flex is based on the same code and comes with Google Assistant, the Chrome browser, and Nearby Sharing, Google claims it has the same look and feels as the ChromeOS that comes pre-installed on every Chromebook.
There is no Google Play Store, though, and Google has listed certain additional, primarily system-level restrictions that set OS Flex apart from ChromeOS on native Google devices.
Use the USB installer to run ChromeOS Flex momentarily if you’re not yet prepared to install it on hardware. In this manner, you can test and confirm that the functionality of the device, such as networking and input tools, operates as planned.
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