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Google after the acquisition of Neverware in 2020 has finally announced the Cloudready rebrand, the Chrome OS Flex! This is very similar to the Chrome OS that we see in Chromebooks but there’s one major difference. Chrome OS was only limited to the Chromebooks but now this new version is available for everyone to try. So let’s see how we can Download Chrome OS Flex and install it on our laptops, PC, or Mac.
How To Download Chrome OS Flex?
- Chrome or Chromium-Based Browser (Method 1)
- 8GB and above USB
- 4GB RAM
- 16 GB of Storage Space
- Intel or AMD chipset
- It is compatible with most models. You can check the supported device list here.
Chrome OS Flex Download and Install [Method 1]
Visit the Chrome Extension Web Store and search for “Chrome Recovery Utility Tool” and add it to the Chrome browser.
Chromebook Recovery Utility
So we will be using the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension to download Chrome OS Flex on our USB drive. This extension is mainly for Chromebooks to create recovery media. But it can be used on Windows and Mac computers as well through the Chrome Browser.
Click on get started and then on the Identify Your Chromebook page we need to select a model from the list. Now in the Select a manufacturer, we will choose Chrome OS Flex. And in the Select a product option, we will select Chrome OS Flex (Developer-Unstable). Now continue and select your USB drive.
After this, it will ask for confirmation to format the USB drive so go ahead and do that. It will download the Chrome OS Flex ISO image and then the Chromebook Recovery Tool will write the image on the USB. And lastly, it will verify the files and create the recovery image. We will see a prompt saying the recovery image was created successfully.
Now we will boot our system into the Boot Menu option. I have given a list of keys for various manufacturers. Now when restarting press and hold the Boot key for your system and you should see the different boot menu options. Now just select your USB drive and we will boot into the Chrome OS Flex.
We need to select our language and then it will ask us if we want to install Chrome OS Flex or try it out. If you are using your main computer, then do not install it as it will wipe the primary Windows OS. It is meant for old PCs and Macs that are no longer running at their optimum performance.
Install or Try it Out
So if you click on install Chrome OS Flex, then it will wipe the entire drive of your system. It will install Chrome OS Flex, replacing your existing primary Operating System. For starters, we can just click on the try it out option and continue with the process. Then we can connect to the Wi-Fi network and set up our Google account.
We can keep the OS in the USB and use it when needed. The data will not be formatted if we unplug it from the computer. So it will be like a portable version of Chrome OS Flex. This is a good alternative until there’s a method to install Chrome OS Flex in dual boot mode.
Chrome OS Flex Download and Install [Method 2]
If for some reason the above method to download and install Chrome OS Flex doesn’t work. We also have the traditional method that we use to create a Windows bootable USB drive. This method using Chrome OS ISO will be the most familiar to most.
We can download the Chrome OS Flex ISO image using this link. Download the latest version number from the list. The file extension for the download is (.BIN) instead of an (.ISO) image. But do not worry as the procedure is the same for the BIN file as it is for the ISO image.
Chrome OS Flex Bootable USB
Now to create the Chrome OS Flex bootable USB, we need a program called RUFUS. Open the program and select your USB drive. We need to select the image file that we downloaded earlier.
The partition scheme should be fixed by default. Now we can start the process of creating the Chrome OS Flex bootable USB.
Now after the process is done we need to boot into the BIOS and disable the secure boot, to avoid any issues. While restarting press and hold the BIOS key (from the image below) and you should see your system’s BIOS interface.
After that, we can select boot device options directly from the BIOS. Or while restarting again use the boot menu key (check the image above) to see the boot device menu.
Just select your USB drive from the options and soon the Chrome OS Flex logo will show up. Now we can go through the set-up process. And finally, to install Chrome OS Flex, choose the “install” option. This will wipe out the entire storage drive on the computer.
Chrome OS Flex Install and Set-Up
Make sure to backup everything before proceeding. Once it is done installing, you will see a timer and the system will shut down after it ends. We can manually shut down and then remove the USB drive.
Now power on the system and we need to do the setup again. you can add your Google account, set up Google assistant, and connect your Android phone too.
We can easily sign in with our primary Google account if needed. In the other Chrome OS that we have dual boot previously, using our primary Google account was not considered safe. Because the installation was not through official methods by Google. Read Install Chrome OS in Dual Boot with Windows 10/11 | Best of Both Worlds!
But this one is officially released by Google and they are promising regular updates. Google Chrome OS in general does not need an antivirus as it automatically gets updated in the background quite frequently.
Google Play Store
We knew Google cannot just release a Chrome OS for everyone without a caveat. Yes like Cloudready OS previously, Chrome OS Flex does not come with the Play Store. It does not yet support Android Apps and games.
Chrome OS Flex Best Features
Android Phone Integration
I was able to connect my Moto G 5G to the Chrome OS Flex from the settings. The process is quite simple, just follow the on-screen instructions. Phone Hub allows us to control our phones from our system. We can silence, find the device, and share mobile data using it.
There is an option to enable the notification and media share from the smartphone. We can see our messages and notifications on our system and also reply to them. The phone’s recent browsing tabs and media files are also visible. Clicking on the image or file downloads it on the system.
We can access the “Google Assistant” on the Chrome OS Flex, just like on our Android devices. It can be accessed from the launcher. it can do all the tasks like on any other Android device.
We can type the commands or even use the mic for voice commands. It can even control our smart home devices with just a command which is a great feature to have on a laptop.
Chrome OS Flex mostly uses web apps which is why it is so lightweight. Using Linux apps does make the experience even better. Programs like Libre Office, VLC, and more can be installed and used.
They can be used as a substitute for the lack of Android support. You can even install a Linux apps store to make installing apps even easy and faster.
Nearby Share was a wonder to use. It made sharing files so easy. I am really thankful to Google for integrating this Android feature in the Chrome OS Flex as well. We can easily send and receive files from our Android devices.
Now, this is a very advanced feature that Chrome OS Flex offers. The built-in screen recorder has features that we see on Windows. We can access this feature from the quick toggle or by pressing the “PRT SCRC” key on the keyboard.
We can record or screenshot a particular area of choice. And also capture and record a particular app window. For example, a Chrome tab or settings tab, or any other app. We can also add our face cam on the bottom right side of the screen.
Chrome OS Flex Review – My Experience
I am updating this section after using Chrome OS Flex for months. I have to say for people who use Chrome Browser most of the time for their work. This is just the best Operating system for that.
I have been mainly using the computer for writing articles and uploading videos and posts. My laptop which has a Ryzen 5 2500U is not powerful enough for video editing anyways. Even on Windows I mainly used Chrome Browser.
Chrome Browser Limitations
But I would highly suggest Google provide the same Chrome Browser that we see on Windows and Linux. This Chrome Browser version feels more like the Android counterpart. We cannot add multiple users to the browser. This is a feature that I use quite often.
We can enable Linux and install Chrome Browser which does fix the limitation. But on an operating system that is running entirely on Chrome Browser. I would have expected a more powerful version of Chrome Browser at least.
Look and Feel
The design of Chrome OS Flex is quite amazing. We see inspiration from Windows and Android here. The quick toggles and taskbar shortcuts are quite handy. In my version 104 update, there is a dark and light mode option.
The light mode has a good blurry taskbar, app launcher, and quick toggle design, which looks quite pleasing. The productivity launcher got an update as well and looks and feels much much better. We also see the Google Assistant at top of the launcher.
We can open multiple windows and snap it to either side of the desktop. The app opening animation is nothing new but looks okay. If they implement the Android-like app opening animation. It would look quite sick.
The following experience is for my Asus laptop with Ryzen 5 2500U. This may or may not happen on other devices.
So in my long-term usage, I have experienced multiple system failures and random reboots. This was very frustrating, to be honest. All the apps including Chrome tabs do restore themselves automatically on boot.
After a while, I realized that this issue started after I enabled Linux on my system. Even while using Linux programs I was facing crashes. I decided to turn off Linux development and see if the crashes continue.
Currently, I have been using my device for 2-3 days after disabling Linux and I have not faced crashes yet. This is both good and bad news for me. Bad because I will be losing out on all the amazing features Linux has to offer.
For now, this is the situation for me. It is highly possible that it is a device-specific issue. And may not be true for all the devices out there. I will update this section with future updates.
So lastly, I would suggest anyone who uses Chrome Browser mainly to go ahead and install Chrome OS Flex. Chrome Browser has issues even on Windows but here it runs very smoothly. Progressive Web Apps does a decent job mimicking real apps.
For a complete Chrome OS experience like we have in the Chromebooks, read Chrome OS Install in Dual Boot with Windows 10/11 | Best of Both Worlds!
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system from Google. It is meant to be installed on old PC and Mac, in order to make them usable again. Chrome OS Flex is similar to Neverware’s CloudReady OS, as it does not come with the Google Play Store or Android Support yet.
Yes, Chrome OS Flex comes free of cost from Google. We can use an extension from the Chrome Web Store to download and install the Chrome OS Flex for free.
No, as of yet Chrome OS Flex does not support Google Play Store or Android apps. But we can turn on Linux and install Linux apps.
We can download and install the Chrome OS Flex with a Chrome extension called Chromebook Recovery Utility available on Chrome Web Store.