What if you could give your janky old laptop PC a fresh-faced Chrome OS-inspired makeover? That's the promise of CloudReady, a free operating system based on the open-source Chromium OS that essentially converts legacy Windows, Macs, and even older Chrome OS devices into brand-new Chromebooks. Now Neverware, the company behind the endeavor, has announced that it's officially joining up with Google — but there may be some unwanted consequences for consumers.
Up until now, anyone with an aging device that's slowing down (and supported) has been able to download and install CloudReady Home edition for free. Especially in our current times when kids and grownups alike need solid computers to get work done at home, Neverware offered a reliable and relatively easy solution at no charge. We even created a guide to the process earlier this year.
For Windows users, installing CloudReady is as simple as starting up its automated USB installer.
Now that the company is a part of Google, the future of the Home Edition is clouded. According to a support page answering questions about the transition process, Neverware states that there are "no changes to the Home Edition at this time," but that's only discussing the short term — leaving the door open for things to change later on.
Neverware sells Enterprise and Education editions of its software, too. The company says that existing multi-year license agreements will be honored by Google, and that there are no other changes to plans or pricing to announce at this time. CloudReady will continue to be supported as usual for the foreseeable future, with the goal of becoming an "official Chrome OS offering" in the long term. As that occurs, existing customers should be able to seamlessly switch over to Google's implementation of the software solution.
While there are valid concerns about Google's reputation for shutting down projects, there are also some positives that could come about due to the merger. Android apps and the Play Store have never been supported on CloudReady, but now that it's an official branch of Google, it seems plausible that this could change sometime down the line.
Additionally, this news could open up the possibility for Google to extend the EOL dates for existing Chrome OS devices — Neverware supports its certified hardware for up to 13 years from the original release date, which would make for a solid step up. And since CloudReady runs on Windows and Mac machines, Google might even unveil an official way to easily convert those devices into Chromebooks — which, given a proper marketing campaign, could help skyrocket the success of Chrome OS overnight.
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