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Google announces early access to Chrome OS Flex

The newest version of Chrome OS, Chrome OS Flex, has been announced for public access; it is designed for businesses and schools to run on old PCs and Macs to modernise them and is fully compatible with Google’s could-based management.

The news OS is identical in look and feel to Chrome OS running on a Chromebook as it’s built from the same codebase and follows the same release cadence. However, several features may depend on your PC’s hardware, including always-on Google Assistant and syncing with Android devices.

It all started with Google’s acquisition of Neverware in 2020. Neverware is the developer of CloudReady, an application that allows users to convert old PCs into Chromebooks. The acquisition gave rise to speculation that ChromeOS will be available as a separate OS installed on any PC, and here we are. 

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Any book is a Chromebook now

Chrome OS Flex appears to be Google’s first step in that direction. In their own words, “we have been hard at work integrating the benefits of CloudReady into a new version of Chrome OS”.

Google claims this new OS can be deployed using a USB drive or network deployment “within minutes”. Running a ChromeOS does yield some benefits for a business or school, especially considering IT admins can now use Google’s cloud-based Admin Console, having access to over 500+ policies that can be mapped according to said business or school’s preferences to control devices. 

The new OS is also being advertised as providing fast access to web apps and virtualisation. The booting times are expected to be faster than Windows and Macs, at least, considering it’s meant to run on older PCs. System updates also happen in the background, meaning less downtime for end-users. 

The new OS is ready to download and test for free on the Chrome OS Flex website. However, do keep in mind that it’s still in early access and available on the dev channel, meaning there will be some hiccups along the way. The company says that a stable version will be available in the coming months, and when it does, CloudReady customers will be upgraded to Chrome OS Flex for free. 

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