back to article Windows is coming to Chromebooks… with Google’s blessing

Google plans to allow Windows 10 to run on its budget Chromebooks, with the Chocolate Factory’s blessing. Chatter has been discovered in the low level source code of a branch of the Google Pixelbook firmware code that would seem to indicate that Google is working on providing drivers that Windows 10 needs to run. The Github …

  1. ratfox Silver badge

    My, my... Cats and dogs living together!

    I wonder whether they are trying to convince people who need windows applications, or if it's a competition thing.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
      Coat

      "Cats and dogs living together...

      "...MASS HYSTERIA!!!"

      Sorry; my mind insists seeing that movie quote (Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghostbusters") finished.

      1. malle-herbert
        Joke

        Re: "Cats and dogs living together...

        Yup... Microsoft has no dick...

    2. WibbleMe

      Musty be project PIGBY for a hybrid this ugly

  2. King Jack
    Thumb Up

    Twice as good

    Double the spyware.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Twice as good

      how long before 'secure boot' blocks attempts to install REAL Linux on a chrome book?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Twice as good

        "how long before 'secure boot' blocks attempts to install REAL Linux on a chrome book?"

        Better ask Google. Presumably they control the BIOS settings of Chrome books.

        1. joed

          Re: Twice as good

          I believe that MS was signing some Linux distros so if Google lets Windows run, Linux is right next

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    It's happening...

    "ChromeBooks have gained the ability to run Android applications, and more recently Linux binaries too."

    Do you think that they'll be executing Windows applications within the ChromeBook ecosystem?

    Sooner or later, the various OSs will just run each others' apps. In the same way that a refrigerator can keep both meat and fruit cool. It just won't matter.

    How? It'll be virtualization all the way down.

    1. hellwig Silver badge

      Re: It's happening...

      Gonna need beefier hardware to virtualize all these things, especially if simultaneously. Chromebooks might not be the best place to start that effort.

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: It's happening...

        Even with virtualization the chromebook has more computing horsepower than mainline desktop systems of 10 years ago. The problem isn't lack of beefy hardware, it is bloated applications.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: It's happening...

          Some chromebooks costs a couple of hundred quid, some cost a grand so hardware will be variable and I wonder if Windows will only support a minimum spec so only the more expensive chromebooks will have it as an option.

          Either way, my aincient chromebook runs linux anyway.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: It's happening...

            Some chromebooks costs a couple of hundred quid, some cost a grand so hardware will be variable and I wonder if Windows will only support a minimum spec so only the more expensive chromebooks will have it as an option.

            They're pretty much going to have too. The 8gb Surface Go costs just over 500 notes, despite the availability of an equivalently specced Chromebook for 300. That's a pretty big different - even if the Chromebook lasts half as long as the Surface (and I know of no reason why it should), you'd be better off with a Chromebook as the 2nd upgrade would be 'free'.

            I say this as a lifelong MS dev......

            It's no good MS looking at Macbook prices and using them to set the cost of a Surface - 3 or 4 years from now I can flog a Macbook for almost half what I paid for it, the 2nd hand Surface won't run anything like that level of residual value.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's happening...

              Many use price as a signal.

              Without the premium price, how else would these Surfaces look "better"?

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: It's happening...

                Without the premium price, how else would these Surfaces look "better"?

                I might pay a premium price for an Aston Martin, but I'd not pay it for a Ford. The brands are different market segments. Apple is, completely unfathomobly to me, "cool"; Microsoft just isn't and it will never be.

                So how would a Surface look better? Well, it'd do more - most apps run on Windows, certainly most professional level apps (I care not how many fart apps your phone has). That's not to say stuff doesn't run on linux, of course it does, but Windows is the desktop/professional user GUI (sorry penguins, it just is). Leverage that for "better", but just making it expensive means I'm not buying one - residual value is a thing if you upgrade every few years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's happening...

      Hey that reminds me of the ambitions of OS/2...

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        OS/2

        "A better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows"

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: OS/2

          "A better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows"

          AKA "damning with faint praise".

      2. WallMeerkat

        Re: It's happening...

        OS/2s latest fork, ArcaOS, is still the best way of running Windows 3.1 software on modern hardware :D

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It's happening...

      "Sooner or later, the various OSs will just run each others' apps."

      And each others' slurping.

    4. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: It's happening...

      Linux already runs many Windows applications through Wine, and has been doing it for years.

  4. hellwig Silver badge

    Can Chromebooks fit Windows 10?

    I'm sure we're talking a pared-down Windows 10 S or something like that, but with Google's "everything in the cloud" mentality, will they be able to fit more stuff on a Chromebook, or will they have to expand the storage?

    I have purchased dedicated Windows 10 tablets before, and even 32GB disappears too quickly.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. steelpillow Silver badge
    Trollface

    Whose side is it not worth being on

    I'll bet Google see this as a way to stave off Surface sales - "We run your familiar Office apps too", meanwhile M$ see it as a way to do the exact opposite and penetrate the Chromebook market, and are busy putting together a suite of crippleware for it - "Our apps work so much better on our own hardware".

    The licensing deals would make interesting reading.

    I am reminded of George Orwell's Animal Farm, in which the rest of the animals could no longer tell the pigs apart from the men they were doing deals with.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: Whose side is it not worth being on

      Really?

      Looking at the vendors, 1984 seems more appropriate to me.

      1. onefang
        Big Brother

        Re: Whose side is it not worth being on

        "Looking at the vendors, 1984 seems more appropriate to me."

        We have always been at war with MicroGoogAppleSoft!

        1. anoco

          Re: Whose side is it not worth being on

          We have always been at war with MicroGoogAppleSoftFace!

          You forgot someone!

          1. onefang

            Re: Whose side is it not worth being on

            We have always been at war with MicroGoogAppleSoftFace!

            "You forgot someone!"

            /me quickly hacks the El Reg comment database.

            But that's exactly what I said the first time, we have always been at war with MicroGoogAppleSoftFace!

  7. ColonelDare
    Linux

    Don't need it, thanks.

    > Windows 10 support adds native printing - an alternative to jumping through hoops with Google’s cloud printing service or an OEM equivalent - and management capabilities to the humble Chromebook.

    I just VNC or FTP into my humble Raspberry Pi (with CUPS etc installed) and I can network print, scan and do loads of cool stuff with no probs - apart from being a bit slow sometimes.

    M$? - no thank you.

    1. FBee

      Re: Don't need it, thanks.

      The big problem is your local Apple-outfitted school that can't print assignments from all those iPads and carts full of Chromebooks with the same issue...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't need it, thanks.

        "The big problem is your local Apple-outfitted school"

        What school has the budget for Apple? Pretty much everywhere in London at least runs PCs / O365.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't need it, thanks.

        can't print assignments

        print? I can't remember the last time my kids have ever printed anything (nor I, for that matter), and they have PCs with working printer drivers.

        The assignments are done on their devices, no need for paper.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't need it, thanks.

      What are these hoops? My Chromebooks recognise the Epson Workforce on the network just fine, thanks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't need it, thanks.

      Yeah, and the average Chromebook buyer is going to do that? Try getting out and see how things work in the real world of everyday users

      1. Sonic531

        Re: Don't need it, thanks.

        Exactly, he just described the hoops you have to jump through to get printing working, and at a slower rate as well. At the same time though I find it hard to imagine that the very people who aren't willing to jump through those hoops are likely to go through the trouble of installing windows on a Chromebook instead of just buying a window laptop.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't need it, thanks.

      " just VNC or FTP into my humble Raspberry Pi"

      Wow what a pain just to print.

      1. Missing Semicolon

        Re: Don't need it, thanks.

        .. oh, and then try cancelling a print. Without hard-resetting the printer afterwards.

  8. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Pulling a freight train with a tricycle

    I bought a little micro computer thingy on Amazon, which was basically equivalent to most Chromebooks: wimpy Atom processor, 32 GB of dog-slow flash storage, 2GB RAM. The plan was to install Ubuntu server, but it came with Windows 10 preloaded. Out of morbid curiosity, I fired it up to see how it ran.

    As one would expect, running 10 on that hardware was excruciating. The only thing it did quickly was get worse, as Windows filled up the meager flash storage with non-declinable updates and then consumed all available RAM and CPU cycles for >8 hrs installing them. Even after the update spasms had subsided, it was an absolute dog.

    Windows 10 should run passably on premium hardware like a Pixelbook, but it will be bitterly disappointing on the zillions of $200 Chromebooks.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Pulling a freight train with a tricycle

      heh, that image only works properly if it's the guy in the yellow raincoat from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Pulling a freight train with a tricycle

      "Windows 10 should run passably on premium hardware like a Pixelbook, but it will be bitterly disappointing on the zillions of $200 Chromebooks."

      No change there then, Win 10 performance wise...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pulling a freight train with a tricycle

        "No change there then, Win 10 performance wise..."

        Windows 10 is faster than Windows 7 - especially on low end hardware, and consistently outperforms Ubuntu in battery life and performance benchmark tests.

  9. Florida1920
    Facepalm

    Advertising Dept In Mass Panic

    There are some new Chromebook ads running on TV over here, and they specifically target Windows error pop-ups and the BSOD. Will be interesting to see how they work their way back from that marketing strategy. "All the power of Google with all the inconveniences of Windows!" Maybe with a photo of Big Brother as the default desktop background image?

  10. a handle

    Can't stop DOCX

    For as long as no one else can open documents and such reliably from other vendors. Only one vendor will prevail.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Can't stop DOCX

      "For as long as no one else can open documents and such reliably from other vendors."

      Can anyone open Office documents reliably? My experience was that MS couldn't reliably open their own docs on different versions of their own application. But at least on Linux the doc that had meant Big Red Switch time with MS Office on Windows only hung LibreOffice and not the entire OS.

  11. skalamanga

    Give me crostini for Windows apps so I can run solidworks on a chromebook, I'll be happy

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corporates

    I suspect that the selling point to corporations is that everybody can have a Chromebook and the management tools, but those who need it can run Windows or Linux on the same hardware. The TCO could be considerably lower than for a Windows fleet with a number of machines running Linux or Macs.

  13. Zakhar

    WinRT?

    GIven that most cheap Chromebooks are ARM powered, When John Doe wants a to install a software he likes, he is going to have a lot of fun when he does as usual on his Redmond's Crapware: download and executable from anywhere on the web and install it!

    Good luck...

    1. Def Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: WinRT?

      Windows 10 will soon be able to run (32-bit) x86 applications on ARM processors.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: WinRT?

        There aren't many ARM chromebooks left. I tried to get one to replace my original Samsung X5

        Now they are pretty much equivalent to all the other 2G Celeron cheap windows 10 home machines

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WinRT?

          "Now they are pretty much equivalent to all the other 2G Celeron cheap windows 10 home machines"

          Except for the ones that run i3 or i7. Of which there are now a fair number.

          Though I prefer ARM ones as I have no intention of running anything Windows. I have a box or two for that.

  14. Vector

    "...executives gave serious consideration to an all-Android strategy."

    My research when I bought my last tablet (which is actually a 2-in-1 Chromebook) leads me to believe that Google has decided that ChromeOS will be the large form-factor OS (ie. tablets and such) while Android gets relegated to the phone world. I could find relatively few choices from major vendors for Android tabbies. Tons of off-brand kit but IIRC, only Lenovo, Samsung and Huawei for recognizable vendors.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still love my Chromebook

    Never slowed down or needed cleaning up. Also runs Citrix for boring work stuff really well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never slowed down or needed cleaning up.

      Course not, that would interrupt the flow of marketable data to your masters.

  16. FelinaErse

    Quick Sand Windows

    Windows (desktops and servers) is build on quick sand. What could go wrong?

    1. ToFab

      Re: Quick Sand Windows

      By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.

      1. onefang

        Re: Quick Sand Windows

        So lay down and think of Microsoft?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quick Sand Windows

        "By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand."

        Amor vincit quicksandia.

  17. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Sigh...

    In my other life I do some education work. I like Chromebooks in the school environment because management is an absolute cinch. All the high maintenance and drama stuff happens on the random kit and OS jungle of the day job. At school I just use stuff and only occasionally have to wave a neuron in the general direction of an admin tool.

    What fresh hell will having a bastardized Chrome/Win experience and associated dependency + patch management introduce?

  18. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    You can guarantee this won't be reciprocal. No chance that MS will want PCs running Chrome OS.

    This is just more "embrace, extend, extinguish" from MS

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "You can guarantee this won't be reciprocal. No chance that MS will want PCs running Chrome OS."

      MS don't have any sway on what goes onto a PC other than OEM deals about what's on there when you buy it. The big problem with getting ChromeOS onto random H/W is that, at least last time I looked, builds of ChromeOS were H/W specific and if you wanted it for something other than a standard Chromebook product you had to build it yourself, always assuming you could get the requisite drivers.

      MS aren't in the frame for this one. Unless Google have a change of heart it's always going to be easier to put a standard Linux or BSD on your PC than ChromeOS.

      1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

        H/W specific ChromeOS

        I have had good results with CloudReady version of ChromeOS on my Thinkpad and HP thin clients (although I nearly choked at Win install to a USB key - eventually got the Mac download and use of dd to work).

        Also ChromeOS from builds on arnoldthebat.co.uk work on my Wyse thin client laptop.

        Perhaps not the "full" ChromeOS e.g. run android apps but they both run fine....(personally I prefer Debian+LXDE on the same hardware but have to think of other family members...)

    2. onefang

      "You can guarantee this won't be reciprocal. No chance that MS will want PCs running Chrome OS."

      Microsoft don't have much say in the matter. Yes, I know that for some PCs you need to have your bootloader / OS signed by Microsoft, but you can turn that off for a lot of them. Or run Chrome OS an a locked down PC under a VM.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "No chance that MS will want PCs running Chrome OS."

      Microsoft already run Linux under Windows 10, so presumably not an issue if they wanted to.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over 30 years of personal computing and printing is STILL and issue!

    Beggers belief.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Over 30 years of personal computing and printing is STILL and issue!

      You know the saying about idiot-proofing and nature building better idiots? There seems to be something similar with printing.

      1. onefang

        Re: Over 30 years of personal computing and printing is STILL and issue!

        The printers heard about the paperless office concept, and have been waging an existential war with us ever since. That's why we now have lots of multifunction printers, they are trying to remain useful.

        On Monday I installed one of them on someones desk, a multifunction scanner/inkjet printer. One that had been sitting unused in another office. It's ink cartridges are dried out already, and are likely to remain that way, coz the user only wanted the scanner. I think they recently threw away the fax/printer, coz they no longer need faxes.

        The big photocopier/printer in a room by itself was recently hooked up to the network so they could use it as a printer as well. The printer forces won that battle at least. So that's Printer Liberation Front 1 v Humans 2. It'll be a long and costly war, but I think we can win it.

        1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
          Flame

          The printer wars

          Good report, soldier! It sounds like you and the men are making progress. Make sure they are rested today and have a man look after their kit. Tonight's mission will be rather special- I want you to figure out why the hell the big HP in HR is doing port scans. Doesn't happen often so make sure someone on point has an eye peeled.

          Bloody sneaky bastards these new printers. Back in my day you could grab em by the Centronics cable and bash their heads into the fscking wall. Now they're wireless. But I've got total confidence in you.

          Now remember, man. Got to keep your spirits up because this game is for keeps. We don't have an "lp0 on fire" error message for the hell of it. You may have to set a couple of the Lenovos on fire to degrade enemy morale. I guess they would do it to you, so make damn sure that any printer you engage becomes a dead 'un.

          I shall report to higher authority that you are executing the mission successfully.

          That is all, you're dismissed.

          1. onefang

            Re: The printer wars

            SIR! Our front line scouts have discovered that the Printer Liberation Front is deploying Canons. They are bringing out the big guns. I suggest we try out those re-purposed LARTS the boffins have been working on. Hit 'em with our PARTs!

            1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: The printer wars

              Aye! CANON. Damn. I didn't see any intel these were coming in.

              OK, I've got some Intel on what we do about these. It's not all bad news

              Without drivers the CANON are immobile. At at present their Win 10 drivers refuse to work, and their Linux drivers are bloated and slow. Other drivers? Generally suck but occasionally the enemy gets a good one. At any rate maybe this buys us enough time for the boffins to get LART tested. Looks interesting but this is an effen battlefield, not a science fair.

              Push your scouts in a bit, we need to know what sort of CANON these are. If its a single function laser CANON, that's a right nasty piece of work. We need to drop back, plan a bit and maybe engage with indirect fires. If its an all-in-one we're in luck - the enemy is almost never able to buy enough supplies for these units. Send 'em a black fax so they shoot their wad. Or if you've got a good man, have him run off 5,000 photocopies of his butt cheeks and leave them by the machine. No one will use it for days - psych warfare, mind.

              The real question is, who the hell is funding the PLF to get these CANON in the first place? Ideas?

              My guess is the purchase card office or contracts have got something to do with it. Fsck'em.

              P-card is pretty small, you can probably reduce it with a couple 'o Javelin. Contracts? We do this the American way ... we're gonna blow it right off the map; I will go to higher authority and get the aircraft - make sure there is an FO team in place to start the music when I get a gig...

              Thanks for the info. Mt regards to the men for a good job. Now we both have work to do...

    2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

      Re: Over 30 years of personal computing and printing is STILL and issue!

      Quite. But remember that 30 odd years ago, men were men; women were women; printers only tried to print.

      Today I've got something on my desk that tries to do a bit much. Its only really solid attribute is getting me to waste $ on ink cartridges

  20. D@v3

    budget?

    As several have noted above, Win10 running on cheap (low powered) chromebooks is going to be, unpleasant at best, but from the article....

    Google plans to allow Windows 10 to run on its budget Chromebooks....

    ..low level source code of a branch of the Google Pixelbook firmware code...drivers that Windows 10 needs to run. (edited for brevity)

    My point is, at £1k+ Pixlebooks are anything but budget.

    Low level firmware code for a Pixlebook, is unlikely to run on a much lower level hardware, budget chromebook.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: budget?

      "Win10 running on cheap (low powered) chromebooks is going to be"

      It could be a smart marketing move. Let the punters make a direct comparison on the same hardware.

  21. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Marketing

    Google is only doing it to prove just how crap MSWin is on equivalent hardware.

  22. Clarksville

    Why this is good idea

    I REALLY like chromebooks (consistently fast, great battery life, secure, economical, easier to manage on scale in enterprise than Windows, OS rarely malfunctions, no drive image cloning needed, google roaming profile between chromebooks is impressive, OS updates are crazy fast, you can call google and get quality help, with google mgmt license). The biggest limits have been that it is largely limited to web based applications and the printing can be sometimes difficult to configure (although much improved), and there are some peripheral device limitations. (I know Android and new Linux apps support will fill some gaps). I'm an I.T. professional. I use chromebook 90% of time and Windows the other 10%. I carry two computers with me most of the time. If I had a chromebook that would dual boot to Windows on the occasions where I need something that only runs on Windows, then I'm got my whole toolset on a single device and don't have to use Windoze unless absolutely necessary. Can't wait for this to be available.

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