Google's new Chrome OS can turn your PC or Mac into a Chromebook

Google Chrome
(Image credit: Monticello / Shutterstock)

Chrome OS is coming to PC and Mac devices for the first time after Google unveiled a new platform that it hopes can extend the reach of its software to even more devices.

The new Chrome OS Flex is designed to run on older machines, and looks to offer businesses and schools in particular with more flexibility on their software choices.

The "cloud-first" software looks similar to the equivalent already seen on Chromebook devices, offering a stripped-back way to access Google Workspace tools such as Gmail, Meet, Google Docs, with thousands of apps available from the Play Store.

Chrome OS Flex

"End-user computing is complicated. And it’s even more complicated for businesses and schools," Thomas Riedl, Google Cloud Director of Product, Enterprise and Education, wrote in a blog post announcing the news. 

"Slow boot times, intrusive updates, security add-ons, and burdensome management of legacy devices take valuable time away from employees, students, and IT."

"Chrome OS Flex modernizes devices you already own, allowing you to experience the benefits of Chrome OS on PCs and Macs."

Chrome OS Flex home screen

(Image credit: Google)

Google says that Chrome OS Flex "boots up in seconds", meaning there's no long wait times for your device to get ready, with system updates downloading in the background.

Admins can install Chrome OS Flex across business or school devices via USB or network, allowing for a speedy roll-out, with user profiles downloaded through the cloud, automatically syncing their settings, policies and bookmarks.

Chrome OS Flex will also benefit from Google's regular security updates against the latest threats, and Google also notes that due to its un-demanding specs, using Chrome OS Flex means you can keep your existing devices for longer, helping cut down on e-waste.

Riedl noted that the launch had been helped by Google's 2020 acquisition of Neverware, whose Chromium-based CloudReady OS helped businesses around the world shift onto the company's software.

Google says that Chrome OS Flex is not a finished product yet, but users can try the new software as a free trial now ahead of a wider release later this year.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.