ChromeOS Flex could be the solution to the possible Windows e-waste disaster

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It’s been discussed at length that Windows 10's end-of-life could make for a massive environmental disaster for several reasons, but there’s a possible solution hiding in one of Google’s secret weapons.

The first reason is the overwhelming amount of users still on Windows 10, as Statcounter previously reported that by the end of 2023 two-thirds (67%) of all Microsoft OS installs were Windows 10, with only just over a quarter (27%) being Windows 11. The second reason is that even for those who may want to convert over, Windows 11’s strict spec requirements continue to be a major hurdle for older computers. And any of these older machines that lack Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 security functionality most likely won’t be recycled either.

Analyst firm Canalys warned that due to this an estimated 240 million PCs will become e-waste, one-fifth of all Windows 10 devices. And even the one option that could offer an extension to 2028 requires you to purchase a yearly subscription. But ChromeOS Flex could be the saving grace that prolongs the life of millions of laptops for at least a few more years.

So what exactly is ChromeOS Flex?

ChromeOS Flex is a cloud-based operating system that can be installed on either Windows or Mac PCs, effectively replacing that OS with Flex. It’s essentially identical to the current ChromeOS used in the Chromebook and Chromebook Plus line of devices, including a six-second boot time and background updates.

And unlike the security support Windows 10 will lose, Flex offers several safety features including “data encryption, automatic updates, and sandboxing to help protect against malware and other online threats.” There’s also the point that ChromeOS Flex requires less IT oversight due to it being a low-maintenance OS that’s never experienced a ransomware attack.

It’s an excellent choice for those needing a replacement OS when Windows 10 is eventually dropped by Microsoft. However, its biggest weakness is that it’s specifically designed for businesses. Consumers can try out Flex, but all of its best features and tools are tailor-made for the enterprise market.

This, though, is the perfect ‘in’ that Google needs. Windows 10 will still be actively supported until 2025, giving the tech giant more than enough time to fully roll out ChromeOS Flex for the average consumer. And there’s a massive incentive to do so, as it could gain an incredibly large user base and increase its market share.

Hopefully, Google can see the true potential of ChromeOS Flex and act accordingly, not only for its own gain but to help stave off a potential e-waste disaster and prevent an unprecedented environmental disaster.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.