Differences between ChromeOS Flex and CloudReady

With the upcoming stable launch of ChromeOS Flex, we will automatically upgrade CloudReady users across all editions to ChromeOS Flex using our standard background update processes. ChromeOS Flex will no longer have separate editions. All CloudReady devices will update to the same new ChromeOS Flex image.

There are differences between ChromeOS Flex and CloudReady that you can share with your users.

CloudReady Home edition

  • System access reductions: To improve security, ChromeOS Flex will not allow some system-level access currently available on CloudReady Home Edition, including:
    • Command line access via shell
    • Command line access via teletype (TTY)
    • The ability to disable rootFS verification
      Note: To align with ChromeOS, future improvements are planned to allow users to optionally re-enable these dev-mode style features
  • Enrollment allowed: Enrollment into a Google domain for device management will no longer be restricted. ChromeOS Flex devices will require Chrome Enterprise Upgrade or Chrome Education Upgrade in order to enroll. You need to purchase a standalone upgrade for each device that you want to manage. For details, see Order options for Chrome Enterprise.

CloudReady Education and Enterprise editions:

  • my.Neverware: As previously announced, once updated to ChromeOS Flex, devices will no longer interact with Neverware endpoints or send updated info to my.neverware.com. All data management controls will be via the Google Admin console. Some noteworthy changes:
    • Some hardware data might be different, or no longer be available
    • Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment will no longer be available
    • For additional information on my.Neverware deprecation and actions you can take, see Neverware documentation.
  • Licensing: Unlike the Education and Enterprise editions of CloudReady, ChromeOS Flex will not carry any standalone license cost.
    • No minimum number of licenses to purchase
    • Chrome Education Upgrade or Chrome Enterprise Upgrade purchase and enrollment are required for support eligibility
  • Serial numbers: Like Chromebooks, new ChromeOS Flex installs will use a device’s serial number as its primary unique identifier, if one is available and valid.
    • If a valid serial number cannot be detected, a fallback value will be used such as a MAC address.
    • Current CloudReady devices that update to ChromeOS Flex will not change their unique identifier for continuity’s sake. They will continue to report CloudReady-XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX in the Admin console.
    • Unlike CloudReady, new ChromeOS Flex devices will not prepend a device’s serial value with CloudReady or ChromeOS Flex. ChromeOS Flex devices can be identified using the Model field of the device in the Google Admin console.
  • USB live booting: ChromeOS Flex will allow sign in and system use while running from USB, in addition to the opportunity to permanently install.
    Note: Enrollment and OS updates are only possible once fully installed to disk.
  • Linux development environment: On compatible hardware, Linux environment can be installed if allowed by admin policy.
  • Support: ChromeOS Flex support will adjust to align more closely with how device support works for ChromeOS:
    • Support only available for certified models that are enrolled. See Certified models list
    • Support reachable using Admin console.

All CloudReady editions:

  • OS improvements: ChromeOS Flex improves upon CloudReady and draws closer to ChromeOS in a number of exciting ways, including:
    • Official Chrome browser: Official Chrome browser, colors, and logo
    • Update cycle: Updates match ChromeOS release cycles
    • Google Assistant: Google Assistant is supported, same as on ChromeOS
    • Geolocation: Geolocation accuracy, settings, and policies now match ChromeOS
    • Family Link Accounts: Managed Family Link accounts can be created and used
    • Connected Devices: Settings and integrations for connected devices like Smart Lock, Instant Tethering, and much more now work
    • Nearby Sharing: Files and web pages can be shared with nearby devices
    • Remote Desktop from Admin console: Remote control of managed devices is possible from the Admin console
  • Simplified install experience: ChromeOS Flex will be simpler for individuals and organizations to deploy, with changes like:
    • Single downloadable image: ChromeOS Flex has a single image to replace Home, Enterprise, and Education editions of CloudReady for all users and customers.
    • USB installer via Chrome Recovery Utility: ChromeOS Flex installer USBs can be created quickly and simply using only the Chrome Recovery Utility browser extension. Neverware's Automatic USB Maker will be retired.
    • Learn how to download and install ChromeOS Flex.
  • New terms of service: After updating from CloudReady, new Terms for the management and use of device data will apply to ChromeOS Flex devices.
    • Owners, the first/primary user profiles, of unmanaged devices will need to review and acknowledge these terms the first time they sign in.
    • Administrators of managed CloudReady devices will receive separate communications via email that include these updated terms, and will have an opportunity to stop updates if they do not want to accept these changes.
    • Neverware terms, including privacy policies, terms of service, or end user license agreements, will no longer apply to ChromeOS Flex.
    • See Google Terms of Service and Hardware data collection.
  • Data and metrics: Whenever ChromeOS Flex devices will communicate hardware data or metrics, data will be sent directly to Google servers, including:
    • Feedback logs—at user discretion
    • Metrics, crash reporting, and hardware info—if opted in
    • Hardware data to manage and filter updates
    • URLs listed in Neverware documentation are not relevant to ChromeOS Flex

What will stay the same between ChromeOS Flex and CloudReady?

  • Certified models: Like CloudReady, ChromeOS Flex will manage hardware support by certifying, testing, and maintaining a list of the Windows, Mac, and Linux models most requested by our users and customers.
    • ChromeOS Flex will continue using a Certified models list to document supported models and the most important details about them.
    • Only models listed on the Certified Models list that are enrolled in the Admin console with a purchased Chrome Education Upgrade or Chrome Education Upgrade will be eligible for support
  • Features not present: Some important features missing from CloudReady are also not supported on ChromeOS Flex. These include:
    • Play Store / Android apps
    • Zero-touch enrollment
    • Forced re-enrollment
    • Parallels Windows virtual machines
    • Verified boot

To see a full list of differences between ChromeOS Flex and ChromeOS, see Differences between ChromeOS Flex and ChromeOS.

What if I don’t want to update from CloudReady to ChromeOS Flex?

We’re excited to bring ChromeOS Flex’s improvements, and many more in the future, to all existing CloudReady devices. However, if you prefer not to accept the changes and update, you have the following options:

  • Unmanaged devices: To prevent the update to ChromeOS Flex, you will need to stop using your CloudReady devices, or block all network communication with CloudReady update URLs listed in Neverware documentation
  • Managed devices: Administrators can use the Admin console to turn off updates.

Note: Turning off or blocking updates will quickly result in your device running out-of-date software, which might result in broken, malfunctioning, or insecure behavior. We recommend that everyone updates to ChromeOS Flex as soon as stable updates become available.

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