Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex share underlying technology and management tools. When you install Chrome OS Flex on Windows, Mac, or Linux devices, you get most of the features and benefits of Chrome OS. However, Chrome OS Flex has some important differences compared to Chrome OS, which is only available on Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebases.
- Verified boot and Google security chip: Chrome OS devices contain a Google security chip that helps to protect the system and verify that hardware and OS are trusted. Because Chrome OS Flex devices don’t contain a Google security chip, the Chrome OS verified boot procedure is not available on them.
As an alternative, Microsoft reviewed and approved Chrome OS Flex’s bootloader to optionally support UEFI Secure boot. Secure boot can’t provide the security guarantees of Chrome OS verified boot, but it can maintain the same boot security as Windows devices, preventing unknown third-party operating systems from booting on Chrome OS Flex devices. See Microsoft documentation.
Google recommends that you turn on Secure boot on all your Chrome OS Flex devices
- Firmware updates: Unlike Chrome OS devices, Chrome OS Flex devices do not manage and automatically update their BIOS or UEFI firmware. Instead, device OEMs provide updates. Update procedures vary by model and need to be managed by device administrators.
- TPM and encryption: Like Chrome OS, Chrome OS Flex automatically encrypts user data. However, not all Chrome OS Flex devices have a supported Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to protect encryption keys at a hardware level. Without a supported TPM, data is still encrypted, but might be more vulnerable to attack. Review the Certified models list to check if your models support TPM on Chrome OS Flex. Learn more about TPM on Chrome OS Flex.
Supported VMs and apps
- Google Play and Android apps: Chrome OS Flex does not support Android apps or Google Play.
- Parallels Desktop: Chrome OS Flex does not support running Windows virtual machines (VMs) using Parallels Desktop.
- Linux development environment: Support for Linux development environment on Chrome OS Flex varies, depending on the specific model. Review the Certified models list to check if your models support Linux on Chrome OS Flex.
Hardware support and performance
- Only certified models are supported: You can run Chrome OS Flex on most computers with Intel or AMD processors. Chrome OS Flex does not support ARM architecture. To provide a reliable and predictable experience, Google has tested and optimized many of the world’s most popular models of Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. Check the Certified models list to see all the models that are maintained by Google for Chrome OS Flex. Learn more about Chrome OS Flex certification.
While many non-certified devices might work, Google guarantees only those on the list. Learn more about installing Chrome OS Flex on non-certified devices.
Only certified models that you enroll in the Google Admin console are eligible for support.
- Keyboard differences: Chrome OS Flex devices don't share the Chrome OS keyboard layout. Instead, they have their original OS layout and shortcuts. So, on Chrome OS Flex devices some keyboard shortcuts or function keys don’t work the same as Chromebooks. For details about how to change the function of keys, see Shortcuts on external keyboards.
Some keyboard shortcuts or functions printed on Chrome OS Flex keyboards might be irrelevant, especially if they are specific to another OS. Or, keys might act differently than what is printed on the keyboard. Review the Certified models list for notes on unexpected behaviors for your particular models.
- Ports and features not tested or supported on Chrome OS Flex: Some hardware capabilities on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices are not officially supported for Chrome OS Flex. They might not work as expected, or even not work at all.
Even if these ports or features work on devices, they’re not tested or maintained on Chrome OS Flex. Unsupported ports and features include:
- CD and DVD drives
- Fingerprint readers
- FireWire ports
- Infrared (IR) and face recognition cameras
- Proprietary connectors and docks
- Stylus and active pen input
- Thunderbolt functionality
Note: Although Thunderbolt functionality is not supported, Thunderbolt ports using USB-C or mini-Displayport can still be used for any USB3, USB4, and Displayport functionality the port is capable of.
- Differences in performance guarantees and standards: While you get many performance, power, and reliability benefits by installing Chrome OS Flex, we cannot guarantee the same performance as Chrome OS devices.
Some factors that might vary by model on Chrome OS Flex include:
- Boot speed
- Battery life
- Power savings
- Zero-touch enrollment: Chrome OS Flex doesn’t currently support zero-touch enrollment. You can enroll Chrome OS Flex devices in the same way you enroll Chrome OS devices in your organization. For details, see Enroll Chrome OS devices and Mass enroll Chromebooks.
- Forced re-enrollment: Because the Chrome OS underlying firmware and hardware were not originally designed for Chrome OS Flex, devices don’t support forced re-enrollment. Instead, we recommend that you prevent unauthorized users from wiping devices. For example, use a secure BIOS or UEFI administrator password, and be sure to disable external bootable media after you install Chrome OS Flex.
- Verified access and verified mode: Because Chrome OS Flex devices lack a Google security chip and are unable to use verified boot, you might find that the Verified access and Verified mode policies don’t behave as expected. Even if turned on, services that require verified access or verified mode might fail or have errors.
Sometimes, you might need to configure Verified access and Verified mode specifically for Chrome OS Flex devices. If so, move Chrome OS Flex devices to an organizational unit that does not contain Chrome OS devices. That way, security for your Chrome OS devices is unaffected by changes that you make.
- SCEP is supported: Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) is supported on Chrome OS Flex. When you add and configure a SCEP profile, for Security, select Relaxed. For details, see Set up SCEP certificate profiles for Chrome OS devices.
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