I'm the kind of person who runs computer hardware until it's dead, dead, dead.

I mean, I still have a 1984 KayPro to haul that starts. I'm saving this one for nostalgia, but I also own over a dozen Macs and PCs that came out in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and are still doing valuable work.

How? I run Linux on them.

While Linux isn't for everyone, with the release of Google ChromeOS Flex, it's now easy to turn an outdated computer into a useful Chromebook.

It can be really useful.

For example, I know that many companies have rooms full of dusty old PCs. ChromeOS Flex can give them a new life. This, in turn, allows you to significantly reduce IT costs. For example, a new Dell OptiPlex 3000 Small Form Factor business PC will set you back around $1,000. But a 3020 Dell Optiplex 2013 running Windows 7 can be revitalized with ChromeOS Flex for free.

Zero, nothing: that's the price Google charges for ChromeOS Flex. Of course, you still need to install the OS using a USB flash drive or over a network, but it's not hard to do.

On my first effort on the aforementioned 3020 PC, using a USB drive for installation, it only took me half an hour from booting to running my Google Workspace desktop.

Now, I'm an expert at installing operating systems, that's what you get when you're a Linux user, but trust me, anyone can do it.

Once installed, it's very easy to sync user settings and policies with the device. It also takes about a minute. With a small office, you could have your entire staff running ChromeOS Flex in less than a day.

And, since ChromeOS Flex, like Chromebooks, only requires its users to know how to run a web browser, there's no learning curve. As a result, you can increase productivity with no hardware costs and minimal downtime.

ChromeOS Flex is also more secure than macOS or Windows; almost no virus or malware attacks it. And, even if the attacks start showing up (hackers will hack), remember: ChromeOS Flex is updated every few weeks, so there is minimal time for an attacker to attack your users.

In a Google case study, after a ransomware attack shut down their operations, Nordic Choice Hotels used ChromeOS Flex to replace the operating systems of their compromised PCs and bring them back online. “ChromeOS Flex enabled Nordic Choice Hotels to turn a disaster into an upgrade. With a one-page guide and a USB drive, employees at 200 Nordic Choice hotels in Scandinavia were able to convert 2000 computers in less than 48 hours, protecting their business from costly closure.”

As Bjørn Arild Wisth, Deputy CEO of Nordic Choice Hotels, put it: "The implementation of ChromeOS Flex really saved us."

I believe it. ChromeOS Flex is fast, simple, and secure.

You can use Chrome Enterprise Upgrade to manage all of your new ChromeOS Flex boxes. This provides an easy and secure way to manage all your devices in the admin console. (You can try the management tools for free to see if the setup works for you on up to 50 machines for 30 days.)

If you decide to buy it, you must first get a Google Workspace subscription for your devices. It starts at €6 per month per user, with the Chrome Enterprise upgrade MSRP costing €50 per device per year. For all but the smallest businesses, Google recommends working with a Google partner.

By comparison, Microsoft 365 for Business Premium, which doesn't even work on older hardware, costs €22 per user per month. Sure, there are cheaper versions of Microsoft 365, but they don't come with email or calendar. As far as I'm concerned, both are essential for business.

So if you want to save money on PC and your desktop software, I highly recommend giving ChromeOS Flex a try.

Of course, it's not for everyone.

If you're stuck with a critical program specific to Windows or Mac, ChromeOS Flex isn't the right solution.

But if your business just needs basic desktop software features and access to software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs, ChromeOS Flex might be just what you need, especially if you have a bunch of dusty PCs and Macs lying around.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Share This