In a nutshell: Chromebooks are not for everyone. Their limited functionality makes them less than ideal for everyday use. However, for those with an old, broken, low-cost laptop or PC, Google’s stable version of ChromeOS Flex could be the answer to getting that hardware back up and running, even for enterprise users.

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On Thursday, Google announced that excited ChromeOS Flex from “Early Access” to “General Availability”. flexible is a fork of the Chromebook operating system that is compatible with most hardware. Google has verified almost 400 devices that Flex can run without problems, including various Apple models.

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Google announced ChromeOS Flex in February. noting that a lightweight operating system can breathe life into old hardware. This can be the perfect solution for reusing an old Vista or Windows 7 laptop that has expired. Google guarantees support for Flex until 2028 on most compatible devices, with few ending support in 2022 or 2023.

Product, Enterprise and Education Director Thomas Riedl said that the developers resolved over 600 reported issues during the early access period, which began on February 15, 2022. It is now stable enough for the general public.

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Riedl says ChromeOS Flex also has the potential for enterprise use. Recently, Nordic Choice Hotels were the victim of a ransomware attack and were able to reestablish functionality on at least 2,000 computers in 48 hours using Flex.

“It was very easy to deploy,” said Kari Anna Fisquik, vice president of technology at Nordic Choice. “We provided employees with a one-page guide along with ChromeOS Flex USB, and they were able to convert 2,000 computers in 48 hours across 200 hotels in 5 countries. And all this with minimal IT assistance.”

Riedl encourages users to try it on anything that meets the minimum requirements. requirements, even if the system is not among the 400 devices certified by Google. While Flex works best after installation, users can test it from a USB flash drive. If they find no problems, it will work safely on the initial install.

Be aware that there are some components that ChromeOS Flex either cannot work with or have not been tested by Google, including fingerprint scanners, optical drivers, IR webcams, proprietary connectors, stylus input, and Thunderbolt features. It can also cause problems with some operations, even on certified models, such as Bluetooth, touch screens, screen rotation, function keys, keyboard shortcuts, and SD card readers.