Google has announced early access to a new version of Chrome OS called Chrome OS Flex. The new version of Chrome OS, designed for businesses and schools, is designed to run on old PCs and Macs. The operating system can be installed “within minutes,” according to Google’s blog post.
Google told me that Chrome OS Flex will look and feel identical to Chrome OS on a Chromebook — it’s built from the same code base and follows the same “release cadence.” It did caveat that some features may be dependent on the hardware of the PC you’re using. In fact, it said this for every specific feature I asked about, including always-on Google Assistant and Android phone syncing. So, if you’re going to try this, keep an eye out.
This won’t be the first time Chrome OS has shown up on devices it didn’t ship with. Google recently bought Neverware, which previously sold an application called CloudReady that allowed users to convert old PCs into Chrome OS systems. That set off speculation about where we might next see Chrome OS and its future in the PC space.
Since that acquisition, Google notes, “we have been hard at work integrating the benefits of CloudReady into a new version of Chrome OS.” This appears to be Google’s first step.
If you want to try out Chrome OS Flex yourself, you can learn more on the Chrome Enterprise website. Note that the OS is still in early access mode, so you may encounter bugs — you can boot it directly from a USB drive if you’d rather poke around before installing it on your machine.