Do you have a dreadfully slow old computer that is sitting in the corner of your office as an over glorified paper weight? Instead of giving up on it, take a break one day and devote a few minutes of your time to give it a new life by installing Google's free operating system, Chrome OS Flex.
Google recently introduced Chrome OS Flex, a new version of Chrome OS that you can easily install and run on almost any computer – even that one you think you will never be able to use. The company introduced Flex as an environmentally friendly way to recycle devices that are too old to properly run Windows or macOS.
Chrome OS Flex: What's that?
Chrome OS Flex is the next-generation development to the CloudReady operating system, which brings Chrome OS to virtually any outdated computer, either Mac or Windows system. Like regular Chrome OS, CloudReady and Chrome OS Flex are based on Chromium OS, the open-source foundation for Google's desktop operating system.
Chrome OS Flex does almost everything that the regular version of Chrome OS is also capable of. The Chrome browser is front and centre, allowing you to browse the web in a lightweight and safe OS environment.
Since it lacks native application support which is usually what enables malware to do the most harm to a computer, you have almost no risk of facing a malware attack. Even with a lack of native apps, you can use all the usual web apps you likely already rely on, such as Gmail, Google Drive, Microsoft Office Online and tons of other great productivity tools.
Installing Google Chrome OS Flex looks similar to installing Windows 11 via installation media on a new PC. You'll need a USB key with 8GB or more. PCs will need at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The CPU restrictions are more lenient: You'll need a 64-bit CPU, period. Which is basically any processor made after the year 2000. There are GPU restrictions, though: Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, and 3650 graphics hardware do not meet Chrome OS Flex performance standards, Google declared.
As you can see, the requirements are minimal. Chrome OS Flex is designed to run on, more or less, any computer built after 2010.
Why should you use Chrome OS Flex?
Chrome OS Flex is probably the most straightforward way to breathe new life into your outdated computer. While these standard operating systems with all the support for native applications can be considered more powerful than Flex, they also create a burden on the hardware. They might simply not run well enough to provide a great experience after your computer has reached a certain age. Since Chrome OS Flex is essentially just a glorified browser capable of running web apps it inherently needs fewer resources.
For a lot of people, web apps are everything they need on the computer they use for basic purposes. If you take gaming, coding, and creative activities like photography or videography out of the equation, a browser is all you need to get all your work done. Word processing, basic image editing, emailing, shopping, and even taxes can all be done through a browser. A lot of web services also offer an installation shortcut, allowing you to pin them to your taskbar and launch them just as you would start a native application.
Undoubtedly, the technically inclined would argue that you could throw a lightweight Linux distribution on your computer, and it's a fine solution for anyone who is fairly good at troubleshooting their devices. But if you're looking for a simple solution that needs little to no maintenance and tinkering, Chrome OS Flex is the way to go.