Chromebooks do not run Windows software natively. The good thing is that Chromebooks are not susceptible to many of the same problems that Windows machine face. The bad news is that some users need to run Windows software for work or school. Luckily, there are ways to use Windows desktop programs on a Chromebook.
Windows Software Made for Chromebook
It is possible to run some Windows software on Chromebook natively. This would occur when the software developer has created a special version of the Windows software for Chromebook. Some more advanced Chromebook users may want to install Windows on their Chromebooks. Although not the intended purpose of these machines, any Chromebook with an Intel CPU can also run a variety of Windows software via the WINE emulator. This opens up a huge amount of additional software such as Office/Productivity apps, graphics/image editing apps, games and more.
Access Windows Computer Remotely on Chromebook
One recommended way to run Windows software on your Chromebook is to run that Windows software on a remote computer and access it remotely. You can always connect to a remote Windows computer with the help of Chrome Remote Desktop or Chrome RDP.
Install Chrome Remote Desktop on Windows PC
The first step will be downing the Chrome Remote Desktop app with the Chrome webstore. You will need to install this on the Windows computer that you want to remote into. The Chrome Remote Desktop app now automatically appears in the list of apps on your Chrome homescreen.After installing, you will want to select Allow Access to confirm that you are granting the Chrome Remote Desktop app access to several settings and features.
Launch Chrome Remote Desktop App on Chromebook
Now you will want to launch the Chrome Remote Desktop App on your Chromebook. There will be an option to select the PC that you want to remote access into. You will need to enter the PIN that you setup. Then you will be able to access this remote desktop of the other PC. This is not the quickest way to run Windows apps on a Chromebook, but it gets the job done. The performance of the Chromebook remote desktop will be affected by the internet connection on both computers.
How to use Chrome Remote Desktop
You can navigate the remote computer as you would were you in front of it. Note that the Chrome Remote Desktop app will playback audio from the remote computer on the local system. So if you want to listen to audio tracks or watch movies on the remote device and listen in on your Chromebook. You can also copy and paste text between the remote and local computers. Most ChromeOS devices are laptops so they are often offline/sleeping and I think one of the great use cases for Chrome OS is to use it as a thin client to access network resources via VDI/Remote Desktop.
Running Windows software on Chromebook
Although not the intended purpose of these Chromebooks, you can install Windows on most of their hardware. Any Chromebook with an Intel CPU can also run a variety of Windows software via the WINE emulator. Remember, you need an Intel based Chromebook to run WINE and Windows. This will not work with ARM Chromebooks. Also, not all Windows applications work correctly with WINE, but a lot do. You can see some of the best ones here, (includes a lot of games), or if you’re interested in using a specific Windows package, you can check the compatiblity level here.
How to install WINE on Chromebook to Run Windows
To install Wine on a Chromebook, all you have to do is enable developer mode and install Crouton to get a Linux desktop alongside your Chrome OS system. You can then install Wine on the Linux desktop and use it to install Windows programs just as you’d install Wine and Windows programs on a typical Linux desktop. See the following guide on How to Run Windows Software on a Chromebook.
What Chromebooks will run Windows 10?
Windows 10 is now supported with drivers on the Dell Chromebook 13 and Chromebook Pixel 2! Also the Trackpad driver on Windows now supports Pinch To Zoom on all supported models!
Supported Chromebook Models that Run Windows:
- Acer C720 and C720P
- HP Chromebook 14
- Dell Chromebook 11
- Toshiba Chromebook 1
- Acer C740
- Acer C910 and CB5-571
- Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015)
- Dell Chromebook 13
- Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 LS
Have a Haswell model that can’t run Android apps? Now you can run full Windows apps (and if you still want Android apps you can run that too with Bluestacks) 😉
Why Install Windows on a Chromebook?
Because Google has made it abdunantly clear that they have no interest in mantaining support for “older” hardware with ChromeOS. Android support will never be available for these machines. Soon, ChromeOS won’t be updated, either, and as web-based technologies evolve, you will be left out in the cold.
Once a Chromebook is out of support, you are completely screwed. For instance, if a new authentication method replaces OAuth2 in the future, Google will shut down OAuth2 (which is what they did with OpenID last year), and you won’t even be able to log into your computer anymore.
We shouldn’t coerced be dumping computers every three to five years in favor of the new shiny. That old technology has to go somewhere. Recycling electronics to extract the valuable heavy metals is not a cheap or environmentally-friendly process. With a Chromebook, end of support means total end of life.