Installing Windows On a Chromebook – There’s a lot you can do on Chromebooks with web apps and Android apps in Chrome OS. However, for those who have always used Windows-based products, the transition may be difficult. Some Windows features may be missed. Perhaps you miss the familiarity of Windows.
You might not have believed it was possible, but there are a few ways to bring some of that Windows goodness to your Chrome OS machine. There are numerous ways to make this work — and we can point you in the right direction. Here’s how to put Windows on your Chromebook.
A word of caution
Installing Windows 10 on a Chromebook is complex, and the results may be disappointing. To begin, manufacturers select specific components that complement Google’s lightweight, web-centric operating system. The majority of mainstream models have less than 64GB of storage space, around 4GB of memory, and no dedicated graphics chips.
Furthermore, neither Google nor Microsoft supports Windows 10 running on Chromebook-specific hardware. That means you might not be able to find Microsoft-certified drivers and will have to rely on third-party solutions.
The most significant issue with Windows 10 on Chromebooks is the process of installing Microsoft’s platform. On the motherboard of most Chromebooks is a write-protect screw that prevents you from installing any operating system. To install Windows 10, you must first remove the bottom shell, then remove the screw from the motherboard, and then flash new firmware.
Finally, your Chromebook may lack the necessary hardware to run Windows 10. Check CoolStar’s list to see if your Chromebook is compatible.
With that in mind, if you don’t want to hack your Chromebook completely, it’s always worth considering our list of alternatives further down this article.
However, if you still want to learn how to install Windows on a Chromebook, keep reading.
Before you start,
Before embarking on this grand hacking adventure of installing Windows on your Chromebook, make a backup of any critical data on the system. Changing your operating system, firmware, or BIOS can have severe consequences for your system, and you risk losing anything that is not otherwise protected.
If something goes wrong and you cannot use your Chromebook, you can try to recover the system by creating a USB drive from another computer. This will, however, erase all of your data, so backups are essential. If you don’t have an external drive, use Google Drive.
Installing Windows 10 on a Chromebook
To begin, you will require the following tools:
- A screwdriver is needed.
- 1 x USB drive containing Windows 10 installation media
- 1x USB flash drive for backing up Chromebook firmware and storing downloaded drivers
- A second PC is necessary to create the Windows 10 USB installer drive and to download drivers.
- A USB-based mouse and keyboard.
A mouse and keyboard that is powered by USB.
Next, conduct an online search to determine the precise location of the write-protect screw in your specific Chromebook model.
Step 1: Press and hold the Power button until the Chromebook shuts down.
Step 2: Turn the Chromebook over and take off the bottom shell.
Step 3: Identify and remove the write-protect screw.
Step 4: Replace the Chromebook’s bottom shell and plug in the power adapter.
Step 5: To enter Recovery Mode, press the Esc, Refresh, and Power buttons simultaneously.
Step 6: Press the Ctrl + D keys when the screen says “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.”
Step 7: To disable OS verification, press the Enter key.
Step 8: Reboot the Chromebook into Developer Mode. To boot into Chrome OS, press the Ctrl + D keys when the screen says “OS verification is OFF.”
Step 9: After booting into Chrome OS, simultaneously press the Ctrl, Alt, and T keys. This activates the Terminal.
Step 10: Type shell and hit the Enter key.
Step 11: Enter the following command and press Enter to download and run a script file as root:
sudo bash firmware-util.sh && curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh
Step 12: Enter three (3) and press the Enter key. This option selects Install/Update Full ROM Firmware.
Step 13: To proceed, type Y.
Step 14: Press the U key to install the UEFI firmware.
Step 15: Insert a USB drive to create a backup of the current firmware on the Chromebook.
Step 16: After the new Windows-friendly firmware has been installed, turn off the Chromebook.
Step 17: Switch to your second PC and follow the instructions in our separate article, How to legally download a Windows 10 ISO file and install Windows 10 from it. Another USB stick is used to create a bootable drive that will install Windows 10 on the Chromebook.
Step 18: On your second PC, navigate to CoolStar’s website to determine which Windows-based drivers you’ll need to install on the Chromebook. Find them and save them to the USB drive you previously used to back up the original firmware of the Chromebook.
Step 19: Connect your Chromebook to a mouse and keyboard and install Windows 10 from the bootable USB drive.
Step 20: After installing Windows 10, remove the installer USB drive and insert the USB with the downloaded drivers, then update as needed.
Here are some methods for getting a Windows-like hack-free experience without opening the Chromebook and installing new firmware.
Make use of Microsoft’s free apps.
If you only want to use Microsoft’s office apps and don’t care about the rest of the Windows 10 apps, this is by far the most straightforward option.
Step 1: Open the Chrome web browser and go to the Office website.
Step 2: Access your Microsoft Account. To use these free web-based apps, you must first create an account.
Step 3: Choose the web app from the list on the left. It opens in the same tab — no downloading is required.
Use Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop is software that allows you to connect to another desktop while using your Chromebook. In this case, it streams a Windows 10 PC to your Chromebook while allowing for remote interaction with a mouse/trackpad and keyboard.
Read also: Easy ways to recover your ATM pin
The key to this method — and the caveat — is that the second Windows 10 machine must be connected to the internet. That is the only way this will work.
Step 1: Open Chrome on the Windows 10 PC and type remotedesktop.google.com/access into the address bar.
Step 2: Under Set Up Remote Access, click Download. The host software is downloaded and installed as a result of this.
Step 3: Enter a six-digit PIN and then press the blue Start button.
Step 4: Wait for the Windows 10 PC to read the phrase “online.”
Step 5: On the Chromebook, make sure it’s logged in to the same account, and open Chrome, and navigate to remotedesktop.google.com/access.
Step 6: Select the shared Windows 10 PC from the Remote Access list.
Step 7: On the Windows 10 machine, enter the PIN you created and press the Enter key.
Step 8: Because screen sharing in Chrome isn’t ideal, click the square icon with the angled-up arrow in the address bar to switch to the Chrome Remote Desktop app.
Step 9: Locate the blue and white button on the app’s right (or left) edge.
Step 10: Make the necessary changes, such as selecting Full Screen and enabling clipboard optimization, among other things.
You should now be able to access the Windows 10 PC remotely. You can use the trackpad on the Chromebook to move the cursor and type on the keyboard as usual. On the Windows 10 PC, a small pop-up will appear with a Stop Sharing button.
Although this is an excellent remote desktop app, remote desktop solutions are not without flaws. They rely heavily on internet connections, which can cause delays at times. This works best if both computers have a high-speed internet connection.
Make use of CrossOver.
CrossOver is a software solution developed by CodeWeavers that allows you to run specific OS apps on other operating systems. This includes the ability to run Windows software on your Chromebook.
CrossOver is not available to everyone due to the software requirements. It can only be used on Chromebooks that are Intel-based. Any Android devices or apps you want to use must be compatible with Android 5.x or later. Furthermore, certain functions, such as mouse locking (common in FPS games), will not work.
Then there’s the fact that CrossOver isn’t free. The current full version is $40, but you can get it with 12 months of updates for $60. If you have the cash, you can spend $500 on software that includes lifetime updates. However, at that price, you might as well buy a Windows 10 PC.
What you must do is as follows:
Step 1: Enable Linux by going to the Chromebook settings and choosing Linux (beta). Follow the instructions on the screen.
Step 2: To access the free trial, go to the CodeWeavers website and enter your name and email address.
Step 3: Select the Download Trial Now option from the drop-down menu. Chrome will download a DEB file from the website and save it to your preferred download location.
Step 4: Locate and double-click the downloaded file, then click the blue Install button.
Step 5: To confirm, click the blue OK button. The app is installed using Linux.
Step 6: Launch the Launcher, then the CrossOver app. It’s most likely in the Linux apps folder.
Step 7: Select Install Windows Software from the drop-down menu.
Step 8: A new window appears. To see what you can install, go to the bottom and click the Browse Available Applications link. Alternatively, if you already have an installer, select it by clicking the Select Installer tab.
You can confirm the software you want in many cases, and CrossOver will start the installation process without issue. You may be required to select the appropriate installation file from a list in some cases, so pay close attention to file names and ensure that you are selecting the correct one. You may also be required to sign License Agreements and other similar contracts at this time.
After the installation is finished, you should be able to launch it directly. Keep in mind that large programs will take up a lot of space, which not all Chromebooks have. Fortunately, there are other ways to use Android apps on Chromebooks while saving space.
Project Campfire from Google
We have the impression that Google jumped on the idea of Windows-compatible Chromebooks several years ago. This connection would allow users to load and run Windows 10 in a dual-boot configuration. Chromebook users with a keen eye for code may have noticed subtle references to “Alt-OS” in Google Chrome’s OS code. The “Project Campfire” promised to combine the two operating systems on a single device.
Google allegedly halted this project in 2019. We believe that Google has shifted its focus to perfecting Android and Linux in Chrome OS, but recent reports indicate that the project may not be dead after all. In the Chromium Gerrit repository, Chrome provides some hints to Campfire running on Eve—nickname Google’s for the Pixelbook. That code refers to an “Alternate OS mode,” which is similar to what we’ve seen before, as well as “HID for Eve sensors Alt-OS.”
One of Chrome OS’s most notable features is its excellent source of scarce system resources. Unfortunately, Windows 10 requires significantly more horsepower to boot up and run than any Chrome OS, so only higher-end Chromebooks, such as the Pixelbook, are likely to be capable of meeting that OS requirement.