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Chrome OS Flex: Google’s OS To Resurrect Our Old PCs

Google launches a free, scaled-down version of its Chrome OS designed to revive long-standing computers. Who is it for? Google is serious. As Chromebooks begin to engage in the PC world, Mountain View is preparing to launch a version of its operating system suitable for installing old Windows, Mac, or Linux machines. Chrome OS Flex will give the possibility to transform old PCs into Chromebooks, bringing them back to life by installing a light, fast operating system for free and with a user experience as close as possible to the basic version of Chrome OS. 

What Is It About

Chrome OS Flex is a simplified version with some compromises of the standard Chrome OS. It will be completely free and will work thanks to the cloud. Google promises a quick and fast user experience, specifically designed for the business world and schools and with more than an eye to security, given that the system will receive constant updates and patches to make it as secure and stable as possible. 

Its “flexible” structure is suitable for computers designed and developed to run other software and, above all, for those devices with outdated technical specifications that could thus return to work quickly and effectively. All these thanks to an OS that, according to the promises of its creators, never slows down, starts quickly, and gives quick access to apps.

Thanks to your Google account, the installation will be easy and free, possible via USB or internet, and with fast synchronization. Just start it via USB key to test it, while with the complete installation via the network, the system will be installed on the machine and become the default one.

Who Is It For?

Chrome OS Flex already fully supports all the apps developed by Google and is already present in the basic version. There will be various Documents, Pixlr, Meet, Skype, and all the web apps that are the basis of the functioning of the system, Instagram, Messenger, Youtube, Spotify. For now, the version is only available in early access and is considered somewhat unstable, a sign of a product still to be built and which will find stability with the passing of versions and tests.

There are many compatible PCs and Macs, but the list is likely to grow as the months go by and with the arrival of new updates. To install this currently available version of Flex, you need a key with at least 8 GB of space and a PC with at least 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of free space. The processor will have to be a 64-bit from Intel or AMD, which covers a good list of products but inevitably excludes others.

Being designed for machines of a certain age, Flex cannot, for example, be installed on Macs with a proprietary M1 processor. However, the Google compatibility list is quite exhaustive between certified working models, others that will become so in the future, or those that run Flex but with some problems or instability.

From CloudReady To Flex

To bring Flex to life, Google leveraged the work of a US company that recently became part of the Mountain View galaxy. This is Neverware, which had created CloudReady, which allowed users to transform old PCs and Macs into Chrome OS devices. Google has done nothing but take advantage of Neverware’s work and use it to launch its version. All devices that already have CloudReady installed will soon receive an update to Flex, a sign of the total continuity between the two realities and Google’s work, which is a direct consequence of the one already developed by the purchased company.

For now, all the CloudReady functions will not be present in Flex, but it is undeniable that the work done will be reused to create the final and complete version of the new virtual operating system. Google has thus ready a showcase of visibility for its computers, a way to show the world the potential of its machines and its proprietary system. It, therefore, has every interest in creating a stable version and as close as possible to the standard one. There will be compromises, but the goodness of the operation seems total.

Some Renunciation

First, Google pointed out the security difference between Flex and the OS mounted on Chromebooks. The same level of coverage cannot be guaranteed with different native hardware components. There will be no support for Android apps, and virtual machines will not run Windows on future Chromebooks. It will also be challenging to install Flex on Linux devices.

All the keyboard shortcuts implemented on regular Chromebooks will also be different due to machines designed for other operating systems. The performance, autonomy, and energy savings will also be different from the primary operating system. There shouldn’t be any virtual assistant listening features and sync options with Android phones. Small sacrifices that can be easily overlooked have given the excellent opportunity to restore luster to devices that we would perhaps have thrown away.

The Objectives

The great strength of this operation should be underlined once again. Google is not moved by pure goodness of mind and a desire to favor the user. The goal is to get its operating system and computers on the market as much as possible. To do this, decided to exploit one of the peculiar characteristics of his OS: lightness in terms of memory and consumption of resources.

Chrome OS is a fast and fast system that does not get lost in useless functions and complications and which, for this reason, does not require too powerful hardware resources to work efficiently and quickly. These features will certainly have sparked a spark among the minds of Mountain View, which have found in Flex the best weapon to spread Chrome even on products not specifically designed to host it.

It is the same principle that moves Linux-based software such as Ubuntu, capable of running and being installed on any system, giving new life to old machines or not able to work better with much heavier and more expensive systems from the point of view. Resources such as the various latest Windows or macOS.

The “Advertising Demo”

The philosophy of the projects is naturally different. Ubuntu has always had an open-source soul based on collaboration between users and professionals. Google’s goal is to give maximum diffusion to its product and a consequent and much broader push to Chromebooks. The thought behind all of this is to provide users who can’t change their computer a working and cost-free alternative. With extreme simplicity, the user is given the possibility of not spending anything and continuing to use a product that perhaps it would have thrown away. 

At the same time, he approaches the world of Chromebook, its simplicity, and ease of use. Google is investing in a showcase of significant impact and in people who may decide to open up to Google’s proposal even on a new PC after using it for free and having found themselves well. Flex has all the air of being an advertising demo of the Chromebook project, a very well-orchestrated marketing choice, and in its way brilliant.


Beyond the real reasons for this choice, Flex could represent an essential possibility for many users. PCs cost more and more and last less and less, and finding a way to let them work for a while longer is an unmissable opportunity that should be given to everyone. You are not always willing to change your device when it starts to malfunction, so we use slow devices, which often freeze and no longer have the performance they just bought. With a project like Flex, the life of these devices is extended, bringing them back, on paper, to a once again decent level of performance. 

Machines that we will have considered unusable could thus resume making sense, and products that we have thrown away will continue to perform their function for a long time to come. With some compromise of options and functionalities, you will have a complete operating system able to perform all the actions that belong to it. Extending the life of your computers finally seems possible. When Chrome OS Flex reaches maturity, we’ll see if the project has the success it deserves.


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