It's time to transform that tired Windows PC into a Chromebook with Chrome OS Flex

Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book
Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has debuted Chrome OS Flex.
  • It's a way to transform your PC or Mac into a Chromebook.
  • It also features IT controls and is eligible to be deployed across fleets of PCs right now.

If you're saddled with a PC that's out of date, isn't relevant anymore in the software or hardware game, and is more or less looking like a lost cause, wait a moment before you chuck it in the dustbin (or recycling bin or do something with it that's more productive than wasting old electronics). Because instead of putting that piece of junk out to pasture, you can turn it into a Chromebook!

You can thank Google for this development. With its newly debuted, cloud-managed Chrome OS Flex, old PCs and Macs can be saved from their own deaths, Padmé style, via the power of Chrome. All you need to get up and off to the races is a USB drive and a willingness to convert your machine to Google's operating system.

Chrome OS Flex features IT controls and the essentials for managing fleets of PCs, so in case you have an organization's worth of wilting machines and aren't sure what to do, Google may have just given you a way out.

You can read the full scoop over at Google, where you'll also have the option to give Chrome OS Flex a try.

To warn you: Chrome OS Flex is a lifestyle choice, and if you choose it, it comes with drawbacks. For example: No Google Play, no Android apps, and no ARM PCs allowed. If these items aren't dealbreakers for you, then the house of Chrome welcomes your machine with open arms. It's like that old Google saying that the company never actually said, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free of Mac and Windows."

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • Errr... What's the point? This is for Windows machines that are too slow to run Edge alone, but can run Chrome OS instead? I know the latter is less memory intensive, but there must be only a small opportunity for Google. My guess is this is mostly marketing move to put Chrome OS into people's minds.
  • Say it's 2025, and your perfectly good Surface no longer is supported. You can go full geek and pick some Linux distro, and live the terminal life, gitting and grepping and SUDOing, or you can just slap a little Chrome OS on there and continue to get mail, use Office and surf the web, much like you do now.
  • That about sums it up.
  • No Google Play Store? So you have a web browser and no apps. I guess you could sideload Gapps? This seems pointless to me, though.
  • You mean like most Chrome books until the last few years?
  • Not sure this does, but ChromeOS has a web store of it's own, other than the Play Store for running Android apps. I was downloading applications way before the Play Store showed up.
  • This is the future of CloudReady. And just like CloudReady now, it's for making better use of older h/w that you didn't throw out because it could still be useful. And just because it doesn't do some things Chrome OS does now doesn't mean Google won't add them in later on. This may become the Chromebook OS post-AUE default. Anyway, it's something else to play with, which I'm doing right now.
  • This Google venture is for enterprise and not free as such seems pointless. In fact, this an attempt to compete with windows 365. As soon as enterprise sees the licensing and support cost, here are couple of things enterprise might want to explore.
    1) Thrash and throw those old PC away as originally planned.
    2) Get Windows 365 on them (Fully cloud based, more productive better value proposition, easily manageable)
  • Linux available already for old PC's. No thank you Google 😊
  • or get Bliss OS and get the android stuff Flex is missing