Chrome OS Flex: Everything You Need to Know
Chrome OS Flex is Google’s newly released operating system for Windows and Mac PCs to modernize your old computers. If you have old Windows and Mac hardware lying around in your house, you can install Chrome OS Flex on them to transform them into fast and reliable Chromebooks. We absolutely love this concept to turn your old PCs that have completed their lifespan into Chromebooks.
The operating system has been launched on their new Chrome OS Flex site and is free to download. However, you will have to sign up with your email address to get the download instructions.
Chrome OS Flex is the latest version of ChromeOS, which is a part of CloudReady technology. CloudReady is a Chromium OS-based operating system developed by Neverware, a company that was acquired by Google in 2020.
This operating system lets you transform your computers into a Chrome OS device, and Chrome OS Flex is basically a next-level version of CloudReady that is integrated with the Chrome OS software Suite by Google.
Google is mainly targeting schools and businesses with their Chrome OS Flex as these customers have a lot of old hardware lying around and the mass deployment of Chrome OS Flex is quite easy. However, it is a great way to modernize computers for all people!
Chrome OS Flex can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. According to Google, the computers that have been launched in the last decade or so will work perfectly with Chrome OS Flex. While you can install Chrome OS Flex on many devices, Google only guarantees its functionality on certified models.
Here are the minimum system requirements that your computer needs to meet in order to install Chrome OS Flex.
- 4 GB RAM
- An Intel or AMD x86-64-bit compatible computer.
- BIOS with complete administrator access
- Bootable from USB drive
If you try to install Chrome OS Flex on processors that are older than 2010, you may have a poor experience. Moreover, Chrome OS Flex does not support Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, and 3650 graphics hardware.
If you want to check the complete list of the certified models that are supported by Chrome OS Flex, you can do so by clicking on this link.
Many people think that Chrome OS Flex is just like Chrome OS. However, Chrome OS Flex is just a version of Chrome OS. There are a lot of differences between the two operating systems. Since the distribution of this version cannot be controlled by Google, Chrome OS Flex has fewer features than Chrome OS.
Here are the Chrome OS features that you won’t find in Chrome OS Flex.
- Automated BIOS/UEFI firmware updates
- Android and Google Play apps
- Verified Boot
- Linux desktop environment
- Parallels desktop
- More hardware features including fingerprint readers, CD/VCD drives, Infrared (IR) and face recognition cameras, FireWire ports, stylus and active pen input, Thunderbolt, and proprietary connectors and docks.
Moreover, hardware support is only available for certified computer models. According to Google, any encrypted data can also be at risk if a given system does not have a compatible TPM chip. Therefore, even certified models will not be able to operate at full capacity with features like touchscreens, Bluetooth, automatic screen rotation, keyboard shortcuts, and SD card slots not promised to work. This also applies to older models of Chromebooks that are not supported by Chrome OS Flex.
Overall, you can consider Chrome OS Flex to be a lighter operating system than a traditional Windows or Mac operating system. It just allows you to use your outdated PCs. However, since Chrome OS Flex is made available to Windows, Mac, and Linux devices that don’t support Chrome OS, you won’t find certain functionalities of Chrome OS in Chrome OS Flex, including the features we have mentioned above.
To install Chrome OS Flex on your PC, you will need the Google Chrome browser installed, no matter whether you have a Windows, Mac, or Chrome OS device. You will also need a USB drive with a minimum capacity of 8GB to make your device bootable. Some Sandisk USBs may not be supported.
Follow these steps to install Chrome OS Flex on your PC:
- Launch Google Chrome browser on your PC.
- Go to the Chrome Web Store and install the Chromebook Recovery Utility.
- Find the Extensions option at the top right and hit the Manage Extensions option.
- Make sure that the toggle is turned on, on the Chromebook Recovery Utility window.
- Under Extensions, open the Chrome Recovery Utility extension and click on Get Started.
- Now click on the Select, a model from a list option.
- Under Select a manufacturer, scroll down to locate Google Chrome OS Flex and click on it.
- Now click on Select a product and scroll down to locate Chrome OS Flex (Developer-Unstable).
- Click on this option and hit the Continue button.
- Now insert a USB drive of at least 8GB into your PC when you see a prompt to do so.
- From the dropdown menu, select the USB drive and hit the Continue button.
- Click on Create now and remove the USB drive when you get a notification from the Chrome Recovery Utility that the recovery media is ready.
Now that you have the operating system in your USB drive insert the USB drive in the computer that you want to install Chrome OS Flex in. Make sure that the device is not turned on when you do this. After inserting the USB drive, power the computer on and immediately hit the boot key to open up the boot menu.
For most Windows PCs, the boot key is Delete, F1, F2, F9, F12, or the Esc. key. Whereas for a Mac computer, the Boot key is the Option key.
Now from the list, select the bootable USB installer as the boot device and boot into the drive. Follow all the on-screen instructions to install Chrome OS Flex on your computer. However, you don’t necessarily have to install Chrome OS Flex on your PC. You can also use it from the USB drive itself too.
Google has been positioning Chrome OS Flex for multiple purposes: a way for businesses to figure out how well they can be managed and a way for customers to test the benefits of Chromebooks. For instance, an enterprise can manage a Chrome OS Flex “fleet” by using the Chrome Enterprise Upgrade.
If you are a DIY PC enthusiast, you would love to have this additional option to install Chrome OS Flex on your computer. You can replace Windows on your old PCs with Chrome OS and enjoy its benefits in the form of a streamlined operating system. However, do note that Chrome OS Flex does not allow you to run Chrome OS within Windows. It replaces Windows and all of its files with Chrome OS Flex.