Chrome OS comes pre-installed on Chromebooks. Hence, the version of Chrome OS that runs on all Chromebooks is not available for download. However, there is an alternative that is close enough. CloudReady, an operating system that converts your laptop into a Chromebook.
I was using Chromium OS on my old netbooks, before CloudReady. Good Chromium OS builds were available initially, but later, all those sources died down. All of them stopped updating. There are still a few, but I recommend CloudReady because they have built a business around it and is more likely to stay. Plus, they work with Google on this.
CloudReady – Turn Laptop into Chromebook
Chrome OS has an open source version, Chromium OS just like Chrome has Chromium, the browser. These two are almost identical. Chrome OS is Chromium OS plus additional features that Google adds.
Neverware, the company that makes CloudReady takes Chromium OS and adds most of the missing pieces including the automatic updates. If you are a school or a business, you can even purchase the Management Console license to remotely administer your fleet of Chromium OS laptops.
If you are worried about giving up Windows, CloudReady even lets you dual boot Windows alongside Chrome OS.
Anyone can download CloudReady free of cost from Neverware’s website here. The download page has instructions on how to install and also a quick start guide.
CloudReady Works on Macbooks Too
CloudReady can convert even your old MacBooks also into Chromebooks (sort of). Instructions are available on Neverware’s website. Chromium OS on a Mac will make a really beautiful machine.
CloudReady is an excellent option for schools and businesses with many old computers around. With CloudReady, they can be turned in to new computers. The Management Console makes it even more attractive.
If you are a regular user, this can be your first experience with Chome OS, before committing to buying a Chromebook. Install CloudReady on an old laptop and make it useful again, and also experience an operating system that was built for the web.