You don’t have to put a computer out to pasture when it gets too old to competently run Windows. For the last few years, Neverware has offered the tools to transform old PCs into Chrome OS devices. However, this process wasn’t official until now. Google has just acquired Neverware, and its CloudReady installer is becoming an official Chrome OS offering.
Google’s Chrome OS doesn’t require as much horsepower as Windows or a full Linux distro, so you can install it on modest hardware and still get a good feature set. Chrome OS is fully open source, but Google doesn’t provide tools to install it on unofficial hardware. That’s where Neverware comes in — its CloudReady software installs on a USB drive, allowing you to boot and install Chrome OS on your machine (PC or Mac).
Currently, Neverware offers a free home tier and two paid tiers that come with support and remote management. The company says Google will honor all multi-year subscriptions, but there are no changes planned to the tiers right now. According to Neverware, Google’s acquisition of the company means this product will be officially supported in the future. It promises to seamlessly transition customers to whatever model Google decides to pursue. There are no details on that right now, but the company does say that the release cadence of CloudReady will be realigned to match Google’s Chrome OS release cycle on devices that ship with Chrome OS.
Neverware’s customers will see tangible benefits from the Google acquisition. Because the CloudReady install wasn’t supported by Google, some of the more advanced features of Chrome OS are missing. For example, you can’t run Android apps on CloudReady installations. The Google admin console also doesn’t work unless you get the enterprise CloudReady add-on. Those shortcomings should go away with Google in the driver’s seat.
This deal is a win for Google, as well. Google’s goal with Chrome OS is to get as many people using it as possible, and it’s easy to boost those numbers if you can convert old Windows PCs into Chrome devices. Schools and businesses will also be more likely to undertake the conversion when it’s officially supported by Google. It could also mean fewer computers in the trash, which is good for everyone.
Neverware promises to give advance notice of any changes in the product or pricing, but Google seems content to leave everything the way it is for now.
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