Replace Chrome OS with Windows

I love Chrome OS but I also realize that it’s pretty useless without an internet connection. Okay…maybe not pretty useless but mostly useless.  I can’t game, program or do anything useful on Chrome OS other than browse the web. Luckily, if you are using a Chromebook with an Intel CPU (sorry Samsung Chromebook users)  you can replace Chrome OS with Windows. Previously, I did a tutorial on How to install Windows on a Chromebook. I would recommend that you try that tutorial first because it involves a little less work and you’ll be able to go back to Chrome OS.

Differences between How to Install Windows on a Chromebook and this tutorial:

In the first tutorial, I showed you how to install Windows without completely removing Chrome OS. Yes, Chrome OS was no longer installed but the stock firmware stayed intact. In my opinion, this is the preferable way to install Windows 10 on a Chromebook. However, in that tutorial I (mistakenly) assumed that everyone would have SeaBios installed on their Chromebook. Seabios is what would allow you to type in CRTL + L to boot from other devices after you enabled developer mode and USB booting. To my dismay, only some Chromebook models (such as my Acer 720) come with SeaBios pre-installed. Therefore, the previous tutorial will not work for every Chromebook model.

In this tutorial, we are going to avoid SeaBios altogether. Instead, we are going to flash custom firmware that will allow you to boot Windows in UEFI mode (something seabios couldn’t do). The advantage is that you will be able to use things like the HDMI out, virtualization and other hardware features available to Windows. In addition, your Chromebook will essentially be wiped of any trace of Chrome OS and you can also get rid of that scary OS Verification screen that displays every time you boot your Chromebook. Essentially, flashing new firmware (Full ROM) means that your Chromebook can be used like a normal laptop with practically any operating system, including Mac OS. The disadvantage is that you won’t easily be able to go back to Chrome OS. Got that? Good.

What You Will Need:

  • Chromebook

Step 1: Make Bootable USB Drive

First, you need to make a bootable USB drive of Windows 10. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, you can still download the Windows 10 insider preview straight from Microsoft for free. Now use a program called Rufus to make the bootable USB drive. Make sure to set your partition scheme for GPT for UEFI.

Step 2: Developer Mode

Next, you need to enable developer mode on your Chromebook. You do not need to enable USB booting.

Step 3: Write Protect Screw

This step sounds really scary, but it’s not. Because you will be flashing a Full ROM firmware to your Chromebook, you will need to remove the write protect screw. Do a quick Google search to find where your write protect screw is located. On the Acer C720 it’s located near the SSD.

Step 4: Flashing new Firmware

Now we’re at the fun step. Open up a Chrome window and hold CRTL + Alt + T to go into the terminal window. Type in the following:

That will downlaod the firmware utility script. Once it runs, you should see a main window appear. Press option 3 to install the new firmware. Remember, you will not be able to go back to Chrome OS…easily.

When it ask you for the version of the bios, make sure you type in U. You want UEFI and not legacy (though you could use legacy and still be able to boot Chrome OS and Windows, but then…what’s the point of doing this whole tutorial? If that’s what you want to do, simply read through How to Install Windows 10 on a Chromebook. Ignore that whole statement if your Chromebook does not have seabios installed though).

Once it gets done, turn off your Chromebook.

Step 5: Windows Installation

Now it’s time to install Windows. Make sure the USB drive is inserted. You will also need to connect an external USB mouse and keyboard for the installation. Before you install windows, you must wipe your hard drive. Go to repair your computer.

Go to troubleshoot, advanced and select command prompt. Type in the following:

Afterward, reboot your computer and resume the installation.

Step 6: Drivers

So a developer by the name of Coolstar wrote drivers for many Chromebook modules out there. I am going to link you to his website so that you can download his drivers and use the onboard trackpad and keyboard on your Chromebook.

Before you install the drivers though, open up command prompt and type in the following:

That’s it! You have successfully replaced Chrome OS with Windows 10. Leave your thoughts and comments below!