Chromebooks are, by definition, laptops running Google’s Chrome OS. But this does not mean that you are limited to running web applications as in their origins and the support has been extended so much as to also facilitate Windows on Chromebooks.
In recent years, Chromebooks have increased their potential in an extraordinary way and today they are a serious alternative to Windows and Mac in almost all cases of computer use. The improvement has come from the hardware side and also from the software side. Forget the first models that hit the market at the beginning of the decade. They were necessary to open the market due to their low cost, simplicity of use and ease of administration, the keys to their enormous success in the educational segment.
Today they are something else. From a total approach to the cloud and web applications from Chrome, Google has been expanding support with the execution of applications Android thanks to the arrival of the Google Play Store on Chromebooks. And then it came Linux. The company announced at Google I / O 2019 that Chromebooks “would be Linux laptops.” They do not pre-install a distribution to use, but they allow you to run Linux applications as if they were native running on virtual machines. An improvement that adds muscle to Chromebooks and makes them much more interesting.
And now Windows on Chromebooks
Last July Google announced a partnership with Parallels to further increase the capabilities of its machines. Parallels offers virtualization software hardware with hypervisor technology that provides the necessary division between the virtual machine operating system and the host machine hardware. Essentially, Chromebooks could run Windows applications.
Unfortunately, the official announcement only mentioned enterprise Chromebooks and not consumer devices outside of a managed environment. As the issue is more commercial than technical, some have tried to install Windows on Chromebooks on consumer machines in another way.
Developer Mace Moneta Last weekend, he posted a picture of Windows 10 running inside a virtual machine on his ASUS Flip C436. According to Moneta, this works because Chrome OS already supports virtual machines that run inside containers and this is how Linux apps can run on Chromebooks. He was able to install Windows inside a container in the space where a GNU / Linux distribution would normally be installed.
Moneta also points out that there is support for hardware acceleration Because the Chromebook Flip C436 uses a Linux kernel that supports KVM or kernel-based virtual machines. Very interesting, but this does not necessarily mean that this experiment can be replicated on any old Chromebook.
The Flip C436 is a relatively recent and powerful device by Chromebook standards, with a tenth generation Intel Core «Comet Lake» processor and at least 8 GB of LPDDR3 memory and 128 GB of PCIe NVMe solid state storage.
The Verge He took an early look at the official Windows 10 Chromebook experience for business users and already stressed that the function will require relatively powerful hardware that -at least- must have Core i5 processors and 8 GB of RAM.
These are not the first efforts to bring Windows apps to Chromebooks. CodeWeavers has been offering a version of its CrossOver tool that allows it on some machines. But CrossOver is not a complete installation of Windows. It is a compatibility layer that allows you to install and run some programs.
Google’s idea with Parallels is to offer a full Windows 10 environment within Chrome OS, pero will also allow users launch individual applications Windows in its own windows instead of displaying an entire desktop. That way, you can easily switch between Windows, Linux, Android, and Chrome applications. A very complete support that will require the highest possible level of hardware.