Google Announces Software to Turn Old PCs and Macs Into Chromebooks

It’s in early access and free

If you have an office filled to the brim with ancient laptops, Google has a new way to squeeze a bit more life out of them. 

The company just unveiled a service called Chrome OS Flex, a software suite that transforms old Macs and PCs into Chromebooks, as announced in an official Google blog post

Chrome OS Flex

Solen Feyissa

If this sounds familiar, Chrome OS Flex is a rebrand of CloudReady, a Chromium-based operating system that Google purchased in December 2020. CloudReady’s original purpose was to extend the life of old PCs that were no longer receiving official updates. Chrome OS Flex offers a similar purpose, just wrapped up in a new version of Chrome OS.

Chrome OS Flex offers much of the same features as the original flavor Chrome OS, including a built-in Chrome browser, cross-device integrations, cloud sync, quick boot times, background system updates, and the same Google Assistant found on modern Chromebooks. 

However, the OS will not allow access to the Play Store or run Android apps. Additionally, your old laptops likely do not feature a built-in Google security chip, so a verified boot is out of the question. 

Chrome OS Flex is available now in early access. It’s free and allows for booting directly from a USB drive, so you can try it out before wiping your computer’s hard drive. As for minimum specs, make sure you have 4GB of RAM and a device with an Intel or AMD x86-64-bit compatible chipset. 

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