How to install Windows 10 on a Chromebook.
Updated: Jan 14
Chromebooks are amazing computers, no doubt about it, however many people feel that they are restricted by the Chrome OS operating system, especially since it is basically just a browser. In this post, you will learn how to fully wipe out Chrome OS and install Windows 10, turning your Chromebook into a general purpose laptop. While there is no official method for installing Windows 10 on a Chromebook, and the Chromebook BIOS won't even boot Windows 10, this method works for those who don't mind getting their hands dirty.
- MrChromebox for developing the firmware & script.
- CoolStar for basic install guide + Windows hardware drivers.
Is your Chromebook compatible?
In order to make this work, your Chromebook must have:
- An Intel 64-bit processor. You can find this by hitting CTRL+ALT+T, and typing uname -m and the crosh prompt. If it returns x86_64, then you are good.
- Minimum 32GB storage. Windows itself needs 20GB to install, and that is not counting the numerous apps and updates Windows pile on. If you have a 16GB Chromebook, this will not work.
You should also make sure your Chromebook is listed at CoolStar in order to make sure you get the correct drivers. Simply follow the link, then find your Chromebook by it's manufacturer's name and it's processor. You can look up for a full specification of your device online to find what processor your Chromebook has (most are Intel Celeron).
Warnings / Disclaimers:
- Doing this will void your warranty.
- This carries a (small) chance of permanently bricking your device.
- You will also lose all your Chrome OS files, data and applications that are not backed up. It is highly recommended you use Google's free 100GB Google Drive storage for Chromebook owners if you have a lot of files to back up.
What you need:
- A small screwdriver.
- Another Windows computer (to create Windows installation media).
- A USB flash drive of 8GB or larger (for Windows installation media).
- A USB mouse during Windows installation - the built-in trackpad will not work (although we will install a driver for it afterwards).
Create Windows 10 installation media:
1. Download Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. Save it to your other computer and run it with the USB drive inserted.
2. Accept the terms:
3. Chose the option to "Create installation media".
4. Select your desired language. Edition should be "Windows 10" and architecture should be "64-bit (x64)" (32-bit is unsupported by the firmware).
5. Chose "USB flash drive", then select your desired drive from the list that appears. For example, ours would be "E: (ESD-USB)".
6. Wait while the Windows installation media is being made. It can take up to 30 minutes.
7. When it is done remove the USB from your computer, it is now ready.
1. Ensure your Chromebook is completely backed up to your satisfaction.
2. Turn off your Chromebook completely (until all lights are off (disconnect the charger if it is connected)).
3. Flip the Chromebook over, remove the screws with your screwdrivers until the back cover comes off. Some Chromebooks it pops off easily, others you may need to use some degree of force to prise it off.
4. Locate the write-protect screw and remove it. You may need to do some research to find it's location. For example, on the Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431, it is located here:
5. Place the back panel back on, and put the screws back in. Ensure the entire panel is clicked in correctly before proceeding.
1. Press and hold ESC+REFRESH(F3)+POWER keys simultaneously for 3 seconds. Your device will display a scary warning screen.
2. Press CTRL+D here.
3. Press ENTER here. Your device will reboot to this screen:
4. Press CTRL+D once more to enable developer mode.
5. After waiting about 30 seconds, your system will begin to switch to developer mode. This takes about 5-10 minutes, so be patient!
6. Press CTRL+D when you are returned to this screen again, and Chrome OS will boot:
Setup and flash firmware:
1. You only need to complete part of the Chrome OS setup - connecting to Wi-Fi and accepting the terms. When you get to the Google sign-in prompt, select "Browse as guest" in the bottom corner.
2. Press CTRL+ALT+T to enter a Crosh prompt. At this prompt, type shell.
3. Issue the following command and then hit enter (note that the second curl parameter is a capital O, not the number zero):
cd; curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh && sudo bash firmware-util.sh
4. Enter "3" when you reach this menu. If the option is greyed out, then your device is not supported or write-protect is not disabled.
5. Answer "y" at these two prompts:
6. If you have a spare USB stick, you may take a firmware backup, however it is usually not needed since if you ever want to return to stock Chrome OS, they provide stock shellballs for you. We answered "n" at this prompt:
7. Now it will begin downloading and flashing the firmware. As stated here, it can take up to 90 seconds so be patient and do not turn off your device.
8. Now you will be returned to the script's main menu. From here, chose "p" to power off your device.
Install Windows from USB:
1. Plug in your Windows bootable USB stick, then turn on your Chromebook and allow it to boot the drive (first boot may take a long time, be patient!). You'll also need to plug in your USB mouse now.
2. You'll be presented with the Windows install screen. Confirm your initial settings, then select "Next" > "Install now".
3. You'll want to activate Windows with a product key, but if you don't have one, you can use it without activating, by selecting "I don't have a product key".
4. Select "Custom: Install Windows only".
5. You'll now see that none of your partitions are big enough to install Windows on. This is because you need to delete all the Chrome OS partitions (including EFI system partition) first, then select to install Windows to the unallocated space.
6. Now Windows will begin to install. This will take around 15-30 minutes, so once again, be patient. Once it is done, your system will reboot.
7. Windows will reboot automatically, so you don't need to do anything apart from sit patiently (again) while it "Gets ready" and "Starts services".
8. After a while, you'll be greeted with the initial Windows setup. You should complete this.
9. After finishing the setup, you'll need to wait once more :).
10. Once it is all finished you'll be greeted with the Windows 10 desktop!
Install hardware drivers:
This is necessary because lots of your hardware (including trackpad and sound) will not work yet.
1. Head back to the CoolStar website and find your device again.
2. You should see links for the drivers here. Save them all to your computer.
3. Now you can go ahead and run each of the installers. Once finished, all hardware should be functional without needing a reboot.
Windows is now installed!
That's pretty much it and Windows should be fully functional on your computer now! If you run into any issues, feel free to drop a comment below. Hopefully this helped you unleash your Chromebook's full potential!
If you need additional support, check out the project's handy subreddit: r/chrultrabook. Here you can get help directly from the project developers themselves!