Google has built a new version of Chrome OS that can be installed for free on Windows and Mac computers.
Chrome OS Flex will one day become Google’s “free to download” operating system. Interested users will be able to transfer it to a USB drive, which they can then use to install Chrome OS Flex on their desired computer.
“Instead of getting rid of old PCs and Macs, update them with a modern and fast operating system to help reduce e-waste,” Google said. Chrome OS Flex will only need 4 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and an Intel or AMD x86 processor to run.
Google created Chrome OS Flex after its Neverware acquisition in 2020. The free CloudReady installer can help turn an old Windows PC into a Chrome device. “Since then, we have worked hard to integrate the benefits of CloudReady into the new version of Chrome OS,” Google said in a statement.
The current Chrome OS Flex is available as a beta via the Early Access program, so you can expect some bugs. There are also complete instructions on how to install Chome OS Flex on your PC. The software itself has the same basic code as your current Chrome OS, so the experience should be exactly the same as if you bought a new Chromebook.
At the moment, Google markets the operating system primarily to businesses and schools. Both groups typically have large fleets of PCs that can age over time, making PCs slow, unimportant, and even “dangerous” if the built-in Windows operating system is no longer supported.
By contrast, Google says Chrome OS Flex can make devices useful and secure. “Chrome OS Flex starts in seconds and doesn’t slow down in the long run. With background updates happening in the background, there are fewer problems for users and a faster user experience.” IT staff at a company or school can install the operating system on computers via a USB drive or via network in minutes.
“A stable version of Chrome OS Flex will be available in the coming months, at which time CloudReady customers will upgrade to Chrome OS Flex for free,” they wrote.