Google’s tool to turn old laptops into Chromebooks is now widely available

Earlier this year, Google announced ChromeOS Flex, a tool that allows anyone to take an old Windows or Mac laptop and breathe new life into it by installing Chrome OS. After launching ChromeOS Flex in “Early Access,” Google now says Flex is ready to “broadly” scale to more Macs and PCs.

The basics remain the same. You can visit the ChromeOS Flex website to create a bootable Chrome OS installation on a USB drive to ensure your system is working properly, and then you can completely replace your old computer’s operating system with Chrome OS if anything is working. What’s new, Google says it’s tested compatibility with over 400 different devices. That was part of the intention of the Early Access program – it allowed Google to collect a lot of user feedback and fix about 600 bugs that were identified over the last few months.

While anyone can install ChromeOS Flex, Google is primarily positioning this as a tool for businesses or schools to extend the usefulness of older hardware. To that end, IT departments can actually deploy Flex over their networks instead of updating each computer with a USB drive. Google also notes that Flex devices can be managed with the Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, which allows departments to manage apps and policies across an entire fleet of computers.

This all comes about a year and a half after Google bought Neverware, a company that first came up with the idea of ​​letting users take old computers and turn them into Chromebooks. With ChromeOS Flex now in widespread use, Neverware’s CloudReady software will transition to Flex in the coming weeks and the standalone CloudReady product will be retired. That shouldn’t be a huge problem for anyone though, as Flex is now stable and has some features that CloudReady didn’t have, like Google Assistant support.

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