Chrome OS is solely meant for usage on Chromebooks, however, various initiatives have attempted to bring the operating system to regular PCs throughout the years. CloudReady OS, for example, is a derivative of Chromium OS created by Neverware with the goal of providing an updated software experience for current PCs in schools and businesses. Google bought Neverware in late 2020, and the company is currently rebranding CloudReady OS as “Chrome OS Flex.”
Google said in a blog post on Tuesday “To assist even more enterprises to adopt a modern computing solution, Google purchased Neverware in 2020. They’ve helped countless organizations and schools, like Nordic Choice Hotels, ABN AMRO, and MyGate, modernize PCs and Macs as the makers of CloudReady, a Chromium OS-based operating system. Since then, we’ve been working hard to incorporate CloudReady’s benefits into a new version of Chrome OS.”
Chrome OS Flex, like the original CloudReady product, is a customized version of Chrome OS that can be installed on most PCs and Macs and provides the same user interface as a Chromebook. Chrome OS Flex, according to Google, has “the same code base and release cycle as Chrome OS,” and PCs running it can be remotely managed much like Chromebooks, which is a big plus for schools and companies. Google Assistant, support for Family Link accounts, Smart Lock, Instant Tethering, and Nearby Sharing are all included in Chrome OS Flex.
How to turn your PC or Mac device into a Chromebook
In a recent support post, Google clarified some of the distinctions between Chrome OS Flex and CloudReady. Command-line access and the ability to disable rootFS verification are available in CloudReady Home Edition (which is accessible for free download), however, neither of these features are available in Chrome OS Flex. However, it appears that you will be able to use the same Linux virtual machine that is available on normal Chromebooks. “Future changes are planned to allow users to optionally re-enable these dev-mode style features,” according to one portion of the support website, but the same item also says “Linux environment can be installed if approved by admin policy,” so it’s unclear if that functionality is read. Google is also consolidating all previous CloudReady editions into a single downloaded image.
There are still minor differences between Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex. Android app support and Parallels Desktop aren’t available, and secure boot isn’t as solid as it is on genuine Chromebooks, according to Google. Google also does not support ARM PCs currently, so Surface Pro X and MacBook Pro 2021 won’t be able to run Chrome OS Flex.