‘Chrome OS’ on any device: Deploying CloudReady in the enterprise

While devices running CloudReady OS aren’t true Chromebooks, they offer an attractive option for enterprise use. Here’s how to deploy and manage CloudReady devices at your organization.

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Whether you’ve been transitioning applications to the cloud over the years or were forced there quickly in 2020, you might be considering deploying Chromebooks to your users. Their lower cost is especially attractive if you’re trying to provide devices for a boom in remote workers.

But before you settle on Chromebooks, consider all your options. One alternative is to use the CloudReady OS from Neverware, which is now part of Google itself. You can use all CloudReady devices, or mix them with official Chromebooks.

To back up a bit, CloudReady is a Chrome OS-like operating system that you can install on any computer, basically allowing you to turn old devices into de facto Chromebooks. CloudReady is built on Google's open-source Chromium OS, so it offers a very similar experience to what users get on Chromebooks, with a few notable exceptions: you cannot access the Google Play Store or run Android apps, as you can within the official Chrome OS.

CloudReady has a few strong advantages over Chromebooks for enterprise use. While Chromebooks have a notoriously short support window, devices running CloudReady get software updates more or less indefinitely. And with CloudReady you have freedom to choose the device: install it on brand-new machines, bring life to older devices where the lower specs can still easily run the lightweight OS, or even employ the OS for other custom needs like digital signage, kiosks, and point-of-sale devices.

Like Chromebooks, CloudReady-based devices are likely not a good option if your users need quick native access to Windows applications on the device, although there are some workarounds like using virtual machines inside CloudReady or connecting via remote desktop to a Windows machine. CloudReady is designed for users who primarily need access to the internet. It’s like having only the Google Chrome web browser on a device — which is all some workers need.

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