This week, Google launched Chrome OS Flex in a test phase with early access: link.
The company acquired Neverware, the provider of Cloudready, at the end of 2020. This system is based on Chromium OS. That’s the open-source core of Chrome OS and can be installed on PCs, Macs, and virtual machines. Cloudready does not include Chrome browser, Play Store, and Linux mode. Furthermore, this OS version always runs a bit behind that of Chrome OS, so the latest features are missing.
Chrome OS Flex now brings a full Chrome browser and Chrome OS core, the same as the latest version. However, it also lacks the Play Store, and Linux mode is only available to several specific computer models. Source: “Differences between Chrome OS Flex and Chrome OS” from Google.
The new system is available for testing now, and one can use it for business and private purposes. Here, Google describes how to install the system using a USB stick or test it first: Link.
It is great that a real Google Chrome browser is now integrated into the system. Moreover, You can also benefit from the latest Chrome OS features. On the other hand, it’s a pity that there is still no Play Store! Therefore, Google thus denies you access to millions of Android apps. Surely, the restriction in the availability of Linux mode to compatible and certified models makes sense so that everything works properly.
In my series “How to test Chrome OS first,” Cloudready is an important part of the variant “Test Chrome OS: with virtual machines.” Chrome OS Flex can and will do this part, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I can’t test it for you on my Apple MacBook Air M1 at the moment. Google doesn’t support that.
Undoubtedly, the ability to make an older PC and Mac usable again with Chrome OS Flex is a great thing. It’s fast, secure, and easy to use. After a malware attack, some companies have done this with its predecessor Cloudready almost overnight to get back up and running as quickly as possible. Source: “Hotel chain converts Windows PCs to Chrome OS using CloudReady after ransomware attack.” Basically, “Instead of spending several hours removing the virus from each device, Nordic Choice decided to speed up a Chrome migration project that was previously already underway. In all, 2,000 Windows laptops, which look to be Lenovo ThinkPads, were converted with CloudReady to a Chromebook-like experience in 48 hours. Google appears to have aided this by letting them ‘jump in the queue to get the project up and running.‘”
However, as long as the Play Store is missing, you’re still looking at a limited Chrome OS version. It’s very easy to install countless apps through it, and I think that’s what has led some people to buy a Chromebook for themselves or kids in the past.