Google has introduced Chrome OS Flex — a new operating system for older Mac and PC.
The new version is backed by the same Chrome OS code base and will be released alongside the software for Chromebooks and other Chrome OS-run machines. The new operating systems will enable the use of some Chrome OS features such as sandboxing, background updates, Web apps, and Android phone notification syncing.
Google said an early access version of Chrome OS Flex can be downloaded to computers or run from a live USB.
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Google said in a blogpost the new free-to-download Chrome OS Flex was built for schools and businesses. Like the Chrome OS, the new operating system boots up quickly, allows access to Web apps and virtualisation, and is capable of background system updates.
“Built for businesses and schools, it’s fully compatible with Google’s powerful cloud-based management. Chrome OS Flex modernizes devices you already own, allowing you to experience the benefits of Chrome OS on PCs and Macs,” Google wrote in its blog post.
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Chrome OS Flex will also provide proactive security with sandboxing and protection against ransomware, viruses, and phishing. The company said the Chrome OS Flex could be deployed quickly via network deployment pr USB sticks, and cloud profile, settings, policies and bookmarks would sync once a user logs in.
Chrome OS Flex will allow access to Google Assistant and the Chrome browser and take advantage of cross-platform features with Android devices. However, unlike Chromebox, Chromebook, and Chromebase devices, Chrome OS Flex is unlikely to allow access to the Google Play store.
This is Google’s latest attempt to bring a cloud-centric operating system for non-Chromebook users. Neverware developed an operating system using the open-source Chromium OS — CloudReady — for schools and businesses. Google bought Neverware in 2020, and created Chrome OS Flex.
“Chrome OS Flex has the same code base and release cadence as Chrome OS which ensures a consistent end user and IT experience,” Google said.
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Users can try an early access version of the Chrome OS Flex immediately, provided they have a compatible Mac or PC and an empty USB drive.
Chrome OS Flex can be downloaded from the Chrome web store on macOS, Windows, or Chrome OS.