Windows Apps on a Chromebook?

Category: Laptops

Microsoft seems to be very scared of the Google Chromebook, judging by the disingenuous TV commercials the developer of Windows is running. “You can’t run Windows apps on a Chromebook” is the message, and it’s simply untrue. Here are several ways to run Windows apps on a Chromebook...

Yes, You Can Run Windows and Office on Chromebooks!

The loudest criticism I hear about Chromebooks is that because they don't run the Windows operating system, you're stuck in a world without Microsoft Word, Excel and other Office tools. But that's not true. Here's how to prove those nay-sayers wrong. (For a bit of background, see Why Do Chromebooks Worry Microsoft?)

Business users are Microsoft’s bread and butter; they rely on Windows and Microsoft Office. The Windows-based Office suite cannot be installed on Chromebooks, but who cares? All you really need is the use of MS Office, and you can get that from Microsoft Office 365, the cloud service.

Windows Apps on Chromebook

Up to five members of a household can use the Home Premium version of Office 365 for $9.99 per month. But there's also a completely free version of Microsoft Office, called Office Online, which provides web-based access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Read about Office Online in my article Free Microsoft Office Online? to find out how it compares to the paid Office 365, and a similar free offering, Google Docs.

Here's another alternative that brings a full-fledged Windows desktop experience to your Chromebook. The Chrome Remote Desktop app will let you tap a Windows computer and run any software residing on it. Your Chromebook basically acts as a dumb terminal, displaying the remote computer’s screen and transmitting your commands to it.

I’ve written about other web-based remote desktop access services that serve this purpose just as well as Chrome Remote Desktop.

Other Options for Chromebooks

So what if you don't have an Internet connection? Even an offline Chromebook can run Windows apps with a little help from two open-source programs. The Chromebook must be running an Intel processor; ARM processors won’t support this trick. You will have to be geeky enough to enter Chrome’s “developer mode” and do some down-and-dirty hacking. Here are the details:

First, you’ll need to install Crouton to create a Linux desktop alongside your Chrome OS system. You can then install Wine in the Linux environment and use it to install and run native Windows apps. The good geeks at have very nice tutorials on these subjects. See Install Linux with Crouton on Chromebook and Install Wine on Linux and run Windows apps.

Business users generally seek the reassurance of a well-known, established business to support their IT needs. VMWare’s Horizon Desktop-as-a-Service solution fits that bill, and now the company is providing business Chromebook users with software and services to bring Windows apps to Chromebooks just as the open-source Crouton and Wine programs do for home users.

Bottom line, there ARE ways to run Windows and Office apps on your Chromebook. More and more software is becoming web-based, which means you don't have to install it or worry about updates. It also means that your operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux or Chrome OS) doesn't matter as much. That's a positive trend for users.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Windows Apps on a Chromebook?"

Posted by:

21 Apr 2014

Question is- does Google want people to run Windows apps on their Chromebooks?

EDITOR'S NOTE: That would only be a win for Google, right?

Posted by:

23 Apr 2014

Wine isn't so easy to use.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2014

"That would only be a win for Google.."
Really? I think, it's the opposite! ;-)

Posted by:

Danny G
28 May 2014

What about Virtual machines like Virtual Box and VM ware, would they work on Linux for Chrome?

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