Chrome OS has been around for more than a decade and in that time hundreds of laptops (and a handful of desktops) have shipped with Google’s lightweight, secure, browser-based operating system. But up until recently if you’ve wanted to install Chrome OS on a computer you already had, then you needed to either rely on the open source Chromium OS or a third-party tool like CloudReady.
Google acquired the company behind CloudReady a few years ago though, and earlier this year the company released an early access preview of Chrome OS Flex as an official method for turning an old PC into a Chromebook. Now Chrome OS Flex is out of beta and ready for wider release.
Officially, Google is targeting businesses and educational institutions by positioning Chrome OS Flex as a solution that will allow them to continue using older PC hardware that may no longer reliably run Windows or macOS. But anyone can create a bootable USB flash drive that will install Chrome OS Flex.
Over 400 computers are officially supported, and the software will most likely work on many other PCs as well. Minimum system requirements include an Intel or AMD 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and the ability to boot from a USB flash drive. Google notes that while you may be able to install Chrome OS Flex on even older computers, you may have a “poor experience” on systems with processors or graphics made before 2010.
Chrome OS Flex is free to use, but Enterprise and Education customers can pay Google for support and management services.
As for extended support though? That will vary by device. While some newer computers qualify to receive free Chrome OS updates through 2030, others may stop receiving feature and security updates as early as this year.