Yesterday, Google surprised by announcing Chrome OS Flex, an operating system derived from that of Chromebooks but that can be installed on an old PC or Mac. And although the main purpose of this new software is to implement it in the business and educational fields, it has already caught the attention of many people who see it as a good alternative to give new life to their old computers.
A very interesting point to keep in mind is that, although both OSes start from the same base, Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex are not the same. Logically, various aspects of both platforms are identical, but the differences are also many and well marked.
Below we will tell you which are the most notorious and, therefore, you should take into account if you plan to install Chrome OS Flex on a computer that is no longer in use.
Chrome OS Flex is not compatible with Android apps or Google Play
This point can be decisive for those looking to bring the Google operating system experience to a PC or Mac. Unlike the version available on Chromebooks, Chrome OS Flex is not compatible with the services that the Californian firm provides to through Google Play. This means that, among other things, you cannot install Android apps from the Play Store, nor can you get and run them outside of it.
But incompatibility with Android apps is not the only crucial factor in deciding whether to install this OS. Chrome OS Flex also does not support running Windows in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine.
Some ports, sensors and components are broken or not optimized
Another key aspect to keep in mind when differentiating the experience between Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex is that the latter is not optimized to take advantage of all the ports, sensors or accessories that may be present in your old Mac or PC. . This means that if you install the new software on your computer, you may notice that certain features do not respond properly or do not work at all.
Chrome OS Flex doesn't yet support proprietary connectors and docks, fingerprint readers, FireWire ports, infrared and facial recognition cameras, light pens, or CD or DVD drives. For their part, the Thunderbolt connectors do not work with this operating system either, although that does not completely annul the possibility of taking advantage of the USB-C or Mini DisplayPort ports, even though their functional capacity is limited.
Those who install Chrome OS Flex on a computer will not be able to use the keyboard shortcuts that Chrome OS offers on a Chromebook. This is because Google's new operating system keeps the keyboard mapped to the software that originally ran on the computer it was installed on. Thus, if you have a PC you will have the same shortcuts as in Windows, and if you use a Mac you will find the same combinations as in macOS.
Chrome OS Flex obliges us to make concessions
The ones we mentioned in previous paragraphs are not the only differences between Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex. In this support article you will find the complete list, which also mentions the changes in boot security and data encryption. And although they are important data, they end up being a few more concessions than we are already accepting when installing it on an old computer.
It is more than clear that potential users will be more annoyed by not being able to install Android apps than the absence of the verified boot procedure, just to mention an example. At the end of the day, we are talking about software that, at most, will allow us to squeeze a few more drops of life out of a piece of equipment that we would surely have discarded under other circumstances.
It will be up to each user how to proceed, of course. If you want the closest possible experience to Chrome OS without buying a Chromebook, and you don't mind its limitations, Chrome OS Flex may be a good option for you.