Google releases Chrome OS Flex for use on any Windows or Mac PC

Chrome OS Flex is a new version of Google’s operating system for PCs. It has just been released and is designed to run on Windows or Mac personal computers. Although it’s in beta and primarily aimed at businesses and schools that want to reclaim and maintain old PCs, it’s a promising development that may end up becoming a major threat to Microsoft’s dominance of desktop computing.

When Google acquired Neverware, the company responsible for CloudReady software that allowed Chrome OS to be installed on any PC beyond Google’s own-brand hardware, speculation was sparked about the company’s future strategy to occupy a greater space in the PC ecosystem. Google didn’t clarify the actual goals of the Neverware purchase, but it was clear. White and bottled”.

Their engineers have been busy ever since and the first result we see now. And it is that yesWhile CloudReady offered much of the value of Chrome OS, the feel of a native operating system, some key features, and official support from the internet giant were still missing. “We have worked hard to integrate the benefits of CloudReady into a new version of Chrome OS”they explain from Google.

Chrome OS Flex fills in the gaps for CloudReadystarting with Chrome browser integration. Features like geolocation, which were handled differently in CloudReady’s Chromium browser, will now be handled the same way Chrome does on a Chromebook. Another important feature is support for Google Assistant and Family Link accounts.

It also includes Phone Hub, which offers complete synchronization with Android devices, to access the last tabs that were opened on the mobile, see its battery level, the strength of the wireless connection or receive notifications from chat applications. Although it is not a priority due to the system approach, it is expected to add the ability to run Android apps in the near future.

And it is that Chrome OS Flex, when it is fully developed, it will look, feel and work the same way Chrome OS does on a Chromebook. It is created under the same code base (Linux kernel and Chromium OS), will follow the same release cadence and will have the corresponding version, quality and security updates.

The operating system is completely free for anyone and can be installed “in a matter of minutes” on any PC, although some of its functions may depend on the hardware used. It can also be run from an external USB drive in ‘Live’ mode without touching the installed operating system. You have more information and access to the download in Chrome Enterprise.

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Chrome OS Flex, a threat to Microsoft?

Chrome OS has been the only operating system capable of beating Windows in market share in some market segments and specifically in education. In 2020 it was the platform that grew the most when the confinements due to the COVID pandemic forced the acquisition of infrastructure for telecommuting, online study and leisure at home. And Chromebooks were the personal computers that grew the most in the boom of sales produced due to the need for new infrastructure due to the COVID pandemic.

The Google platform for PCs It has improved a lot since its launch. as an operating system that replicated the Android model, a commercial derivative of the Chromium OS open source project, which was based on the Linux kernel, the Chrome web browser and the addition of software such as media player, file manager and native Google Apps applications.

However, the initial conception as an operating system focused entirely on the cloud complicated its use for most users. The system depended almost entirely on servers and the Internet to run web applications on the Chrome browser, its main work tool. It was soon found that was a highly limiting factor and that offline support needed to be improved.

In addition, the very execution of web applications from Chrome and a graphical interface consisting of browser windows based on WIMP distanced it from more traditional desktops such as Windows or macOS and the truth was that in its beginnings it was simple and unattractive. It also did not offer support for other applications such as Android.

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A decade after the release of Chromebooks, everything has changed for the better. Maintaining its initial advantages in simplicity, security, ease of use, management and operation on hardware of all levels, Google has transformed Chrome OS into a modern desktop system, offline support, the new graphical environment and the ability to run Android apps and even Linux apps.

A few months ago we reviewed the Acer Spin 514 to see how far improvements in Chromebooks went, and the truth is that we really liked it. And the best we can say is that they are today a very real alternative to Windows or macOS computers. Chrome OS Flex goes one step further, with the ability to install on any PC. At the moment in the preview phase and with a clear focus on companies and schools, but do not lose sight of it. It can be a big threat to Microsoft if Google extends it to the consumer segment.

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