Chrome OS Flex brings new life to old Macs and PCs

Turn your outdated machines into fully functioning Chromebooks with Google's new version of Chrome OS

Chromebook stock
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Chrome OS can run on the most basic of hardware, thanks to its cloud-based structure. This has made the best Chromebooks a popular option for students and budget home computers.  

But what if you didn't even need to buy a new machine? Google is releasing a new version of Chrome OS that is designed to work on old PC and Mac machines. Aimed at businesses and schools, the Enterprise solution allows you to simply install the operating system on your outdated machine to replace the MacOS or Windows platform. 

This is ideal if you have machines that can no longer be updated to the latest Mac or Windows OS. It could save hundreds or at least mean that you could pass on the machine to someone else to make use of. 

Google Chrome OS Flex

(Image credit: Google)

Chrome OS Flex is completely free to download from the Chrome Enterprise page. The OS is still officially in development though, so expect some bumps along the way. The file has to be downloaded onto a USB drive and then used to boot your machine to install it.

Unlike with dedicated Chrome OS devices that have a Google Security chip, the Chrome OS verified boot procedure is unavailable on Chrome OS Flex. Google Play and Android apps are not supported and some hardware connected might not work properly. However, if you just need basic functionality, you're set.

There are still some minimum requirements. It must be an Intel or AMD 64-bit device (no ARM machines) with 4GB RAM and 16GB of storage. You can find a full list of certified models on the Chrome OS Flex help page. Remember that installing a new OS will completely erase all of your files, applications and settings, so don't try it on a current machine.

Google Chrome OS Flex

(Image credit: Google)
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.