When Google first launched Chrome OS, it was basically an operating system built to support a single app: the Chrome web browser. The idea was that you could use Chrome to access thousands of web apps and millions of websites… but early Chromebooks were often criticized for being virtually useless if you didn’t have an internet connection or if there wasn’t a web app that could do what you needed.

In recent years web apps have gotten more powerful (often adding offline capabilities, among other things), and Chrome OS has gotten a lot more useful thanks to the addition of support for Android apps and the Google Play Store. There’s also beta support for running Linux apps. And soon you may be able to install Windows 10 on a Chromebook too.

According to a report from xda-developers, it looks like Google may be planning a new feature called Campfire that allows you to install Windows on a Chromebook and switch between Chrome OS and Windows by rebooting.

The feature would sort of be Google’s answer to Apple’s Boot Camp feature, which makes it possible to dual boot macOS and Windows on a single Mac computer. Apple added the feature for folks that want to use Mac hardware and software… but who may need to run some applications that are only available for Windows. It’s likely that Google’s Campfire feature would serve the same purpose.

Technically Chromebooks are just laptop computers that happen to run Chrome OS instead of Windows, Mac, or another Linux-based operating system. But since they’re designed for Chrome OS they tend to have keyboards with some Chrome-specific keys and they tend to have some security features that keep you from doing things like loading an alternate operating system and dual booting unless you enable developer mode (which also disables some of those security features).

Xda-developers says Campfire will allow you to dual boot Windows and Chrome OS without switching to developer mode, which means you get all the benefits of Chrome OS and Windows.

There is one major catch though: Windows takes up a lot more disk space than Chrome OS. There are a lot of cheap Chromebooks on the market with just 16GB or 32GB of eMMC storage. You won’t be able to install Windows 10 on any of those devices.

According to xda-developers, you’ll need a computer with at least 40GB of storage space (10GB for Chrome OS and 30GB for Windows), and you’ll probably want even more than that.

It’s not clear at this point if Google plans to make Campfire available for every Chromebook with more than 40GB of storage or just for specific models. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the feature included in upcoming Google PIxelbook laptops or to be rolled out as a software update for previous-gen Google Chromebooks with 64GB of storage or more. But there’s no word on whether you’ll be able to install Windows on existing or upcoming Chromebooks from companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, or Lenovo.

I also wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Windows support for Chromebooks with ARM-based processors. While Microsoft has developed a version of Windows 10 that runs on computers with ARM chips, you can’t currently buy Windows 10 on ARM and install it yourself. You need to buy a computer that comes with it pre-installed, and I somehow doubt that Microsoft is going to want to encourage PC makers to ship computers with Windows 10 and Chrome OS pre-loaded.

A couple of years ago a handful of PC makers wanted to ship tablets that could dual boot Windows and Android, but Microsoft pressured them to drop those plans.

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22 replies on “Would you dual boot Windows on a Chromebook if you could?”

  1. If I can get ruggedized Chromebook for cheap and expand its RAM and SSD and it came with quad core i5/i7, why not?

  2. I absolutely would. The important thing to remember is this feature is optional. Users that would like it will use it, and users that don’t want it will never need to know or care about its existence. With that in mind I’m not sure why anyone would be upset about or against this feature. If you don’t want it then don’t use it.

  3. 30 GB isn’t anywhere near enough for a Windows 10 installation. I have one of those 32 GB eMMC laptops just for a cheap beater laptop. I don’t have enough storage space to install 1803 and it won’t let me restore to factory because the Windows install has been upgraded. If I want to upgrade, I’ll have to get an empty flash drive to use as extra storage. 64 GB is the absolute minimum for Windows 10 unless you want to go through a hassle every time they push a big update. I’m planning on upgrading it to Linux. Much less hassle, plus it’ll run faster. 100 GB or more would be the minimum for a dual boot. Really, the only reason I would want to dual boot a Chromebook is if Google has end-of-lifed the Chromebook and I wanted to continue using the hardware.

    1. Very good point. A new OS should be allowed to be installed if ChromeOS for that device is end-of-life. This is the reason why I would only buy Intel chipset chrome devices (I am choking as I say that)… that they have very good linux support for their chipsets.

  4. I have no interest in running Windows. It’s an ecosystem I have long abandoned. I can, however, see the value in Campfire for general desktop users – many of them gamers. It’s a good move by Google… for now.

    Although ChromeOS is positioning itself to be able to run Linux Apps directly, I would have loved to see Linux (Debian-based for me) supported as a clean boot option alongside ChromeOS. The idea that future Chromebooks (of which there are so many) would be coming out in all kinds of configurations all being pure-Linux out-of-box compatible on the hardware side… that would have been amazing!

    As it stands… Campfire will simply produce more Windows laptops – as if the industry doesn’t already do enough to support Microsoft and keep them viable.

    1. I agree with John. I’d probably buy a Chromebook that could dual boot with Ubuntu or Debian Linux. But I’m not interested in a Chromebook that runs Windows.

  5. There’s no way Windows would run on a Chromebook with only 16gb of storage. Even running Windows with 32gb of storage is questionable. There aren’t many Chromebooks with 64gb+ storage available, and they are very expensive. Besides storage, Windows may require higher end graphics chips than most Chromebooks come with. And what about Drivers for graphics, Wifi, audio, touchpads, USB and SD cards? Trying to run Windows on a Chromebook sounds like an incompatibility nightmare. No thanks!

  6. No, that is not my use case. I already have a desktop running Win 10. My HP Chromebook X2 is due to arrive tomorrow. I will use Android apps, but probably not use Linux on it. I can see certain people needing multiple OS’s on one device for work purposes, but that’s not me.

  7. Sure. Why not?! I’ve got a Pixelbook and a copy of Windows 10. Not sure how often I’d use Windows 10, since I really enjoy ChromeOS, and I can do most of my work with it. Yet, for those times I need a Windows 10 computer, I’ll not need to take my Surface Book 2.

  8. Linux maybe yes (i.e. without hacks and without virtualisation), windows maybe not!
    Don’t get me wrong but why pay the license full price instead of the deeply discounted version you get from OEMs? I would find it more interesting if we could easily install ChromeOS on a regular PC.

    I have still to find a decent and reasonably priced Chromebook on this side on pond (east side of the Atlantic :)…

  9. Nope.
    Want to make a Chromebook something I must have? Make is so I can run programs designed for Windows without having the Windows operating system. A Chromebook that can run Linux, Android and Windows programs would be awesome! Actually having to install Windows, not so much.

  10. Yes! Love the Pixelbook hardware. Have hesitated to buy one because of the software limitations. One that runs both Windows and Chrome OS? Why not? Would likely have to go with the 256GB version though.

  11. Would you dual boot Windows on a Chromebook if you could?
    No. Never. I got a Chromebook when I got sick of windows 10 constantly running windows update when I took my laptop on my lunch break. Not being able to use my windows laptop when I wanted to was a deal breaker. I know it’s gotten better and the end is in sight for that particular windows ‘feature’, microsoft is going to fix the forced updates, but I broke up with windows for mobile/laptop purposes and I’m not going back for more abuse.

    As for 40GB, that’s not enough space for windows 10, forget about windows and another operating system. I happen to have a Cube iWork10 with Windows 10 and Android installed with 64GB total storage. Windows gets something like 44GB or so and Android gets whatever is left over. I think it has Windows 10, Chrome, and Teamviewer installed, and that’s it. It’s choking on the 1803 Windows update. It has enough space to download the update, but not enough space to do the installation. I don’t really care though. That device makes a much better Android tablet/2 in 1 than it ever did as a Windows laptop. I guess at some point I might consider putting Chromium OS on it though.

  12. I would love to dual boot ubuntu from a usb drive. Have the chromebook make the bios and local disk read-only or non-accessible to keep the security high for the ChromeOS operation. Just give me legacy boot from usb.

    1. Agreed – The hardware feature set of Chromebooks is adequate for my needs, but I don’t need to worry about whether X blog post about Y Crouton install will (still) enable (adequate performance on) Z ‘real’ software I need for photo editing.

  13. Yes. Absolutely. One productive OS to actually get sh*t done, and another sandboxed OS to use when I need to use a browser without torjans/keyloggers/etc (especially for online banking and other data sensitive tasks).

    1. I already do this with a VM within Windows or Linux… no need to dual boot. One can actually setup the hypervisor to keep the image immutable to prevent changes from within the guest OS.

  14. If my hard drive were bigger, then maybe. With as little storage as Chromebooks come with though? No.

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