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Chrome OS Flex By Google Can Rejuvenate Your Old PC And Mac
Google has released a cloud version of Chrome OS -- the Chrome OS Flex, which claims to rejuvenate old PCs, Mac, or even a Chromebook. According to Google, Chrome OS Flex is a cloud-first operating system that is easy to manage and is also secure.
Just like Chrome OS, the Chrome OS Flex is available for free and is currently in the beta stage. Google said that Chrome OS Flex has been designed for schools and businesses, and it is fully compatible with cloud-based management tools.
Chrome OS Flex Features
With Chrome OS Flex, a user can get all the features of regular Chrome OS on any computer or laptop. It is said to boot in seconds and Google also claims that the OS will not slow down over time. On top of that, as this is a cloud-first operating system, all the software updates will happen in the background with minimal downtime.
Google also claims that a computer running on Chrome OS Flex does not need anti-virus, as the OS itself will get regular security updates alongside the built-in protection against viruses, ransomware, and phishing. It also uses sandboxing technology, which will keep the threads limited to a single tab or software.
Chrome OS Flex also supports Google Safe Browsing technology, which warns the users when visiting a malicious website. There are also tools, which will allow the IT team to prevent data loss on stolen or lost devices with Chrome OS Flex.
How To Install Chrome OS Flex?
According to Google, an IT person should be able to install Chrome OS Flex via a USB stick or via the network within minutes. Once the user is logged in to a device, all the data, settings, bookmarks, and policies will automatically be downloaded to the device.
As Chrome OS Flex is built on the same platform as the regular Chrome OS, it offers an identical end-user and IT experience. The Chrome OS Flex also comes with features like Google Assistant and Google Chrome. On top of that, the Chrome OS Flex can be managed from a device running Chrome OS using the Google Admin console.
Boot Directly From An USB Device
Google allows users to boot the Chrome OS Flex directly from a USB device. Users can then replace the operating system on their old PC once they are ready to make a switch.
Do note that, the Chrome OS Flex is still in beta state and it might have some bugs. Google has confirmed that the stable version of the Chrome OS Flex will be available in the next few months and CloudReady customers will be upgraded to Chrome OS Flex for free.
Chrome OS Flex Vs Chrome OS
Although Chrome OS Flex and Chrome OS use the same technology, there are still a few features, which are only available on devices such as Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebases that run ChromeOS.
Chromebooks running on Chrome OS come with a Google security chip, which enables verified boot technology and this feature won't be available on Chrome OS Flex. However, Google has worked with Microsoft to implement support UEFI Secure Boot, which will offer boot security, which is similar to Windows OS.
The firmware and BIOS updates on Google Chrome devices happen automatically. When it comes to BIOS updates on Google Chrome Flex devices, the BIOS update and UEFI firmware are managed by the OEM and the update procedure will vary from device to device.
The same also applies to TPM (trusted platform module). While all the Google Chromebooks come with a TPM module and offer hardware-level encryption, the same cannot be said about Chrome OS Flex. If the device has a TPM module, the Chrome OS Flex will support the same, else it will use regular encryption technology which might be vulnerable to attacks.
While you can get run ChromeOS Flex on devices with Intel or AMD processor, the OS does not support ARM processors. Similarly, it also does not support running Windows in VMs (virtual machines) and it also does not support Android apps and the Google Play Store.
Additionally, some of the ports and I/O options on Google Chrome OS Flex such as CD, DVD drive, fingerprint readers, infrared face recognition cameras, stylus or pen input, and thunderbolt functionalities might not work. While some of these features might work on some devices, they are not tested or maintained on Chrome OS Flex.