So you want to run Windows 8 on your Chromebook? Well congratulations, you clicked on the right link. Let me first ask you a question. Are you looking for a fully responsive, practical and reliable Windows 8 chromebook system? If so, then go out and buy a Windows netbook. While running Windows 8 on your Chromebook is feasible, there are a lot of driver hurdles and hardware limitations (depending on your Chromebook model) that you will have to overcome before this becomes a practical solution. This (rough) guide will show you how to get everything setup to the point in which you can actually install Windows 8; but because of the limited disk space available on my Chromebook, I couldn’t actually install Windows 8, but more on that later. So here’s how to install windows 8 on Chromebook:
What You Will Need:
- An Intel/AMD powered Chromebook (Sorry, no ARM Chromebook)
- Windows 8 ISO
- If you don’t have a windows 8 iso don’t worry because you can download a free evaluation trial of Windows 8 enterprise right from Microsoft here.
Step 1: Getting Windows 8 on a USB
Before we can get started, the first thing which needs to be address is how you will get Windows 8 onto your Chromebook. You have two options when it comes to this.
Option 1: Installing Windows 8 from USB
This is the option which most of you probably are familiar with. You can take a generic USB (preferably 8GB or larger) and use a program such as the Windows 7 USB DVD tool (yes it works with windows 8) and install the Windows 8 setup files to your USB drive. The program will unpack the setup and run the installation on the target machine.
Option 2: Installing Windows 8 to the USB
This method only works if you’re using a USB 3.0 stick. You can use a program called WinToUSB that will install Windows 8 to your USB drive. Essentially, you will be booting and running Windows 8 from your USB. Unfortunately, when I tried this I couldn’t get passed the Windows 8 loading screen. I figured it was because the read speeds from USB are just too slow. But your mileage may vary.
Step 2: Enabling Developer Mode
Before you can install Windows 8, you will need to put your chromebook in developer mode. Developer Mode allows you to get root access to the command shell. Be aware that activating developer mode erases all of your information. Of course, due to the nature of Chrome OS, you won’t really have to worry about backing up apps or anything.
The instructions for entering developer mode will differ for each chromebook. On the Acer C720, hold the the ESC and Refresh (F3) keys and tap the Power button. This will put your chromebook into recovery mode.
Once you are inside of the recovery, press Crtl+D to activate developer mode. Your chromebook will reboot and you will hear two beeps, don’t panic. After the beeps, your chromebook will reboot again. It will erase your data and reboot you in developer mode.
While developer mode is activated, whenever you reboot your device it will show the recovery screen for 30 seconds before entering into Chrome OS. Just press Crtl+D on the recovery screen if you don’t feel like waiting for 30 seconds. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to plug in your USB with Windows 8 on it. You’re going to need it soon.
Step 2: Enabling Legacy Bios
In order to boot from your USB device, you will need to enable the legacy bios. On the Chrome login screen press Crtl-Alt-F2 to enter the shell window.
Once you are inside the shell window type in the following: (source https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Acer_C720_Chromebook)
chronos (for the username)
sudo bash (for Superuser privileges)
crossystem dev_boot_usb=1 dev_boot_legacy=1
Your chromebook will reboot. Now, on the OS verification (recovery) screen, hit Crtl-L to bring up the legacy bios, then Esc to bring up the boot menu. Finally, choose your USB device and if everything goes well, Windows 8 should be booting.
In order to navigate the install menu, you will need to connect an external mouse because there are no trackpad drivers.
Unfortunately, this is where I must leave you on your own. As I mentioned in the introduction, I lacked the available hard disk space to actually install Windows 8. My Chromebook only has a 16 GB SSD, with only 10 GB available after Chrome OS. In addition, I was having no problem getting to the install screen the previous 3 times I was trying this out. However, on the 4th time around (when I was taking photos for this blog post) for some reason it kept freezing on the setup screen. So hopefully you will have better luck than I had. Definitely try this out and report back how far you were able to go.