Chromebooks Could Run Windows 10

John Lister's picture

Google is reportedly working on an option to run Windows on Chromebooks. It could remove one hurdle to people buying the devices, but won't be suitable for the lowest-spec line of Chromebook machines.

Chromebooks are portable computers than run an operating system called ChromeOS. It's effectively a souped-up version of the Chrome browser, which means most of the processing is actually done by remote servers, rather than on the machine itself as with conventional PCs and laptops. This type of setup reduces hardware demands, meaning it can get by with cheaper components as well as being lighter and thinner than a standard laptop.

For many users, a Chromebook is sufficient for basic tasks such as browsing the Internet, watching videos and editing documents. However, Google has worked on ways to overcome the hesitation some would-be users have about not being able to run every app they need. For example, most new Chromebooks can download and run Android apps from the Google Play Store, albeit with the occasional glitch.

Windows Apps Need Workaround

The lack of Windows program support is still a barrier for would-be Chromebook users that come from a Windows background. There are independent solutions such as one called CrossOver that can install and run some Windows programs, though the Chromebook must support an Intel-based processor. CrossOver  generally works well with less demanding programs, but can be a little fiddly to use.

Now, some third-party developers have spotted code in the ChromeOS called "eve-campfire" and includes the term "Alt OS mode." It appears Campfire is the name of the project to get Windows running officially on Chromebooks, with the name a play on "Boot Camp", which is the system Apple uses for running Windows on Macs. (Source:

Unlike the CrossOver solution, the plan appears to be a dual boot mode. That means that when a user starts up their Chromebook, they could choose whether to run ChromeOS or Windows 10.

No Hassle Installation

The good news is that the plan is to make it simple to add the dual-boot mode, with little user intervention needed. In particular, it wouldn't be necessary to switch on the more experimental "developer mode" that increases security risks on the otherwise relatively secure Chromebooks.

The bad news is that it looks as if including Windows 10 will take up an extra 30 GB of storage space on top of the 10 GB or so needed for ChromeOS. That means it will be impossible to have it on the cheapest devices that have as little as 16 GB storage. (Source:

This, along with the cost implications of licensing deals with Microsoft, mean that at best the feature will be restricted to more expensive Chromebooks and at worst it could be kept exclusive for specific models such as the Pixelbooks that Google makes itself.

What's Your Opinion?

Does the lack of Windows support put you off the idea of a Chromebook? Would a dual-boot model be attractive? Or would the extra hardware demands undermine the point of getting a Chromebook in the first place?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Chromebooks are generally severely under-powered machines and come with little to no storage as it is as a way to cut the cost of making the device. By the time the machine is 'souped up' enough to have the processing power and storage required to run Windows 10, it would cost nearly the same as buying a standard laptop that comes with much, much, much better hardware specifications.

With that in mind, in about 10 years that probably won't be the case because even the lowest spec Chromebook will have the processing power to handle Windows 10 easily enough, with the cost of today's processors (and current specs) having dropped significantly to make this idea actually work. The same can be said about storage space - the prices will have dropped and the current minimum of 16GB of storage will likely be 20 times that.

ehowland's picture

In ten years Windows "20" (or whatever) will be way bigger and use far more resources than it does today.

I bet you (or someone) can get Win98SE working on a Chromebook (maybe even XP) so the "give it ten years" is not going to be vaible on low end hardware even then. Yes they could, in ten years, likely run the Win10 of today, but at that point it would be ten years old and antiquated like XP is...