How to Get Windows on a Chromebook: A Simple Guide

You have some Windows apps that you need to access, but you’re using a Chromebook. Since Chrome devices run ChromeOS, you may think that the easiest solution is to find a way to install Windows, effectively turning your Chromebook into a Windows laptop.

But let’s approach that problem from a different angle.

If you have Windows apps that you want to run on a ChromeOS device, switching your entire operating system from ChromeOS to Windows OS is like trading in your sports car for a snowmobile when winter hits instead of simply putting on snow tires. The most straightforward and sensible solution is to get seamless access to all of your Windows software within ChromeOS, without having to install and run the apps locally.

Cameyo’s Virtual Application Delivery (VAD) is a proven solution for doing just that. It’s the only Windows OS-independent method of delivering native Windows apps to ChromeOS, enabling users to work with the desktop-class software they’re used to without having to overcome the technical challenges required to install Windows on Chromebooks.

And it’s extremely important to note here that the technical challenges of running Windows OS on Chrome devices are many. During the process, you’dl need to fiddle with secret key combinations like having to press CTRL + ALT + T and ESC + Refresh. You’ll have to make hardware changes like removing the write-protect screw. Furthermore, Windows only runs on certain versions of Chromebooks to begin with.

You would also need to replace the BIOS on your ChromeOS device with UEFI firmware that’s compatible with Windows, a process that might mean giving up the ability to revert back to ChromeOS. It could even brick the device entirely.

What Are the Tradeoffs of Installing Windows?

But before we get into the specifics of Virtual Application Delivery, maybe we should back up a little to provide some context.

If, for the sake of argument, you had the time, skill and energy to do an operating system swap, why wouldn’t you want to run Windows on your Chromebook? In other words, what would you be sacrificing in order to use Windows?

Chromebooks are popular with enterprises and for several reasons, and many of those reasons stem from the ChromeOS operating system itself. Here are just a few of the important ones:

  • Better security: Although modern iterations like Windows 10 and 11 have emphasized security, the simple fact is that those operating systems are inherently more exploitable than ChromeOS. Even restricted Windows users have more scope for installation processes, for example, which makes those OSes broader targets for malicious software.
  • More cost-effective: Equipping every one of your users with a Windows PC or laptop can get pricey. Those devices have to have the specs to run Windows in the first place. ChromeOS, by contrast, is a much more streamlined operating system and can run smoothly on much less powerful (and less expensive) machines.
  • Easier to manage: Unlike Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS, ChromeOS was designed for rapid deployment and centralized management. Admins don’t need to enable specialized BIOS settings or remote desktop capabilities to control an entire fleet of ChromeOS devices down to the user level.

Taking a ChromeOS device and installing Windows on it—which, keep in mind, is a warranty-voiding hack, not a sanctioned use—means giving up all of these advantages for an assumed gain in functionality. And “assumed” is an important qualifier here, because Virtual Application Delivery provides that end functionality without jumping through all kinds of technical hoops.

Okay, you might say, what about a dual-boot scenario where you run both Windows and ChromeOS on the same devices?

Well, for starters, Google put Project Campfire on hiatus in 2019. That was an initiative that would have officially allowed ChromeOS devices to run both operating systems. However, even if it had been released, a dual-boot solution would still have involved many of the tradeoffs above and would require users to reboot just to toggle between OSes.

It’s Not Windows You Want, It’s Windows Apps on ChromeOS

When your Chromebook users need to work with Windows apps, the optimal solution is to deliver those apps to them in a way that takes the OS out of the equation.

That’s exactly what Cameyo’s Virtual App Delivery platform does. It makes native Windows software available to users directly within the ChromeOS environment. There’s no need to go into developer mode and mess with the Windows installer, ISO files, USB drives or other installation media, product keys, UEFI firmware and the like, because Cameyo turns desktop-class software like Microsoft Office or Quickbooks into progressive web apps (PWAs) with just a few clicks. 

In fact, because VAD transcends the traditional limitations of the operating system, you can give everyone in your organization access to all of their Windows apps—not to mention Linux apps, SaaS and internal web apps—regardless of the machine they’re using. Whether the end device is a high-powered Intel desktop running Linux or an ARM-based mobile device running Android, Cameyo can make business-critical software accessible through any modern web browsing client like the Chrome browser.

And that’s why Cameyo is the sensible, enterprise-grade alternative to large-scale OS migrations and deploying fleets of expensive new machines. Cameyo is dead simple. It’s recommended by Google. Plus it doesn’t come with any of the caveats of, say, trying to shoehorn Windows onto a Chromebook.

ChromeOS + Cameyo: Secure, Straightforward & Cost-effective

Although Cameyo is designed to be a universal solution, it integrates especially tightly with ChromeOS, so, for example, your users can access Windows apps right from the launcher. Cameyo also has file system integration with ChromeOS, which means users can open, edit and save as they normally would — even though the virtual apps aren’t stored or run locally.

With the combo of Cameyo and ChromeOS, users and their organizations get a native app experience with responsive, desktop-quality performance on even the most basic Chromebook or tablet. They also get an ultra-secure cloud desktop experience, since Cameyo’s VAD platform is built around a Zero Trust security model and leverages the inherent strengths of ChromeOS.

Likewise, Cameyo is transparent and intuitive to your IT team. Admins enjoy complete control over which apps are available to which users, and they can update those apps systemwide with a couple of clicks via the Cameyo admin console. Compared to the massive resource investment that goes into managing fleets of Windows PCs or costly and complex legacy virtual desktops, Cameyo is an absolute cakewalk.

All those factors explain why Fortune 500 companies like Sanmia choose Cameyo to facilitate Chrome enterprise adoption or why entire school districts leverage Cameyo to deliver resource-hungry design software to Chromebooks.

But why not just experience Cameyo firsthand in your own environment? Sign up for your free trial of Cameyo and discover why VAD is a smarter, simpler and more secure solution than wrestling with the questionable process of installing Windows on Chromebooks (or running costly and insecure legacy virtual desktops). And if you’d prefer one of our experts to take you through Cameyo’s functionality step-by-step, feel free to schedule a demo today.