Most Chromebooks are affordable portable laptops that sell for around $150 and up. They ship with Google’s Chrome operating system which is designed to boot quickly, let you get online in seconds, and run web apps from the Chrome Web Store.

But a Chromebook is basically just a laptop that ships with Chrome OS. Most models can also run other operating systems such as Ubuntu Linux. But what about Windows? Yep. You can install that on a Chromebook too.

Users have been installing Windows on the Acer C720 Chromebook for a while, but some hardware wasn’t initially supported. So redditor Coolstar decided to port some Linux drivers to Windows and now he’s got a Chromebook that runs Windows 8.1 pretty well.

acer c720 windows

The Acer C720 Chromebook is available with an Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell processor (or a Core i3 Haswell chip if you opt for a more expensive model) and features an 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display. Acer sells the C720 Chromebook with up to 4GB of RAM and up to 32GB of solid state storage, but Coolstar recommends replacing the SSD with at least 64GB.

The laptop typically sells for around $200 and up, but you can often pick up a refurbished model for much less. Still, there are probably cheaper options if you’re looking to buy a new laptop that runs Windows: HP, Acer, Asus, and others all offer Windows laptops at Chromebook-like prices.

So why install Windows on a Chromebook? Because it’s fun trying to get a computer to do something its manufacturer didn’t really intend for it to do… or something.

As of late May, 2015, Coolstar has managed to get the keyboard, speakers, headphone jack, hardware-accelerated video, and HDMI video output to work. But the trackpad still doesn’t work (you’ll probably need to connect an external mouse), nor does brightness control or HDMI audio.

Here’s a video showing Windows 8.1 in action:

Note that the graphics drivers may not work with Acer C720 Chromebooks with Core i3 chips, and Coolstar hasn’t tested the touchscreen that comes with Acer C720p models.

If you want a cheap laptop that comes with Windows pre-installed, you can buy something like the Asus EeeBook X205 or HP Stream 11 for about $200. But if you already have an Acer C720 Chromebook and want to try running Windows on it, keep an eye on Coolstar’s website and reddit thread for driver downloads as they become available.

via OMG Chrome

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12 replies on “Running Windows on an Acer C720 Chromebook”

  1. This is blasphemy pure and simple. The words Windows and Chromebooks should never be used in the same sentence. We Chromebook lovers can’t run from Windows fast enough.

  2. This is funny to me. The whole reason I love the Chromebook is the LACK of Windows.

    Not having Windows means the Chromebook can run significantly faster with less hardware. It boots up ridiculously quick, its battery life is multitudes longer, there’s no need for anti-virus, and you never have to deal with a bunch of programs constantly running in the background slowing everything down.

    The whole reason there even is a market for Chromebook is because its so dang refreshing to not have to deal with WIndows.

    1. I disagree. I have an Asus C300 (Celeron N2830, 2gb RAM). I have used 2 other devices on Windows 8.1 with the exact same CPU and 2gb RAM (NUC, and Aspire E11), and I found that Windows 8.1 performed some tasks faster.

      I found that loading heavy pages on Chrome OS, the browser was fairly sluggish and non-responsive while loading the page. In Windows 8.1 I found no issues using Chrome or Firefox loading the same pages.

      1. I won’t discount your personal experience, but if you’re suggesting the answer to sluggishness on a Chromebook is to layer Windows on top of it (per the article), I think you’re in for some serious disappointment : )

        1. Windows wouldn’t be running in a ‘layer’ ontop of Chrome OS. It would be running on its own. And yes, my contention is that Windows is a more refined operating system (regarding hardware optimizations), and it will perform better. I have always found web-based HD video to perform better in Windows 8.1, than in Chrome OS.

          This isn’t 2004, when Windows was a bloated monster, and Linux was a lightweight dream for low-spec PCs. Windows 8.1 is a fairly low-resource OS.

          I’m a big Linux/GNU fan. I’ve used many GNU/Linux OS’s, including Chrome OS, and while alot of them have lower memory usage than Windows, they often fail to perform as well as Windows in certain tasks.

          1. How is it not layering? The only way to add Windows to a Chromebook is to put it on the hard drive.

          2. Sure, but ‘layering’ is hardly an appropriate term. You’re implying a loss in performance due to another OS being present?

          3. OK fair enough, but what I was getting at is that your putting more onto the local system which is going to either require more power to run with he same efficiency or will run less efficient.

            And please don’t get me wrong. I am not any Windows. I just think that the primary benefit of the Chromebook is that its essentially a terminal. Obviously that’s not ideal for those that require native apps, but given how many web apps replace most people needs, not having to weight down a system at all is huge benefit, not to mention there’s no cost or know-how required to to continuously have that system updated.

          4. You’re not really adding anything to the “system” (in the sense that the system is whatever is currently running on the hardware). When you boot Windows, the system doesn’t bother itself with whatever is on another partition (especially a partition that it can’t even see due to being a file-system incompatible with Windows).

            Doesn’t require any extra power or resources. It just limits how much storage space is remaining for Windows.

  3. I am running Maxthon Cloud OS on an old XP laptop 256 meg with a Pentium 4 and no harddrive. Boots to just a tabless browser from a floppy.

  4. I did the same thing with Windows XP Pro on the old Acer AOA150 netbook with 160 GB HD. It originally shipped with an exceptionally buggy (Linpus?) Linux distro. Very educational project. Windows XP was always slower than lightweight Linux distros on limited hardware, but was quite usable.

    The old Acer now dual multi-boots Windows XP and the new !#++ Linux distro (fork of Crunchbang and based on Debian Jessie). Previously booted Android x86 but there are compatibility issues with the latest releases that I didn’t care to chase. Dropped Android.

    It is hard to beat Linux or Chrome OS on limited hardware. I prefer my own lightweight Linux and the Chrome browser so that I have more options to work offline.

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