Google announced in a blog post today that ChromeOS Flex, a version of the Chromebook operating system suitable for most hardware, has moved from early access to general availability. It also said it certified “more than 400” devices, including systems from Apple, Dell and HP, to run the OS smoothly and stably.
Google announced ChromeOS Flex in February, based on its 2020 acquisition of CloudReady (CloudReady now becomes ChromeOS Flex, the latter being stable). Cloud OS Flex is downloadable for free to a USB drive, so you can install it on a Mac or Windows PC.
The most obvious use for ChromeOS Flex is to bring new life to a dated machine that may be too old to receive software updates for its native OS. Our ChromeOS Flex beta review found that the OS is an interesting option for those who are doing most of their computing in a browser and can get a budget-level Chromebook experience from systems that are 8 to 9 years old.
In his blog post today, Thomas Riedl, director of product, enterprise and education at Google, also highlighted the enterprise potential for ChromeOS Flex, detailing 200 Nordic Choice hotels that reportedly sold 2,000 in about two days after the ransomware attack. Used ChromeOS Flex to reinstall computers.
In his blog, Riedl claimed that Google used the early access period of ChromeOS Flex to resolve “over 600 issues” and that the company would continue to certify more devices to run the OS. He said hundreds of devices have already been certified—including the Apple Mac Mini 7.1; Apple MacBook 7,1; Apple MacBook Air 5,1; And the first-generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon—will deliver a “consistent and high-quality experience” when running ChromeOS Flex.
You can still install ChromeOS Flex on a device that hasn’t been certified by Google, assuming it meets the minimum requirements (for example, Arm chips aren’t supported), but, according to Google, The machine is to be certified for the following functions. Guaranteed by Google:
- System UI and Graphics
- Internal display (if applicable)
- At least one method for each of the audio inputs and outputs
- sleep and start again
- Non-infrared (IR) webcam (if applicable)
Even with ChromeOS Flex certification, however, there are some functions that Google says they tested but “not necessarily guaranteed to work on every certified model.” they are:
- Touch Screen
- automatic screen rotation
- Keyboard Shortcuts and Function Keys
- sd card slot
And there are several features and ports that Google says aren’t tested or supported on the ChromeOS Flex, including fingerprint readers, optical drivers, IR webcams, proprietary connectors, stylus input, and Thunderbolt functionality.
In general, according to Google, the performance of non-Chromebooks running ChromeOS Flex couldn’t be lower, including boot speed, battery life, and power savings.
ChromeOS Flex’s certified devices list shows a wide range, but for those used to a different operating system, the transition won’t necessarily be seamless. Still, it remains a viable option for those who would rather have a low-power, makeshift Chromebook than would rather have more e-waste.