Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dual-boot Chromebooks that run Windows 10 may be coming soon

Would you want the ability to run Windows 10 on your Chromebook?

Dual-booting — AKA having two operating systems on the same computer — might be landing on a Chromebook near you.

As spotted by the online software development community XDA Developers, it appears the software team behind Chrome OS has been working on "Campfire," a feature that would enable dual-booting with Windows 10. Google has not spoken about this in any official way, but on a open Chrome OS forum run by Google, sometimes future tools are worked on in the public eye. 
Campfire wouldn't just support higher-end Chrome OS devices like the Pixelbook but also Chromebooks from Acer, HP, and Lenovo. While these code snippets don't outline all the specifications, it would be a safe bet that only Intel-based Chromebooks (like the Pixelbook) could handle the dual-booting.

The big caveat is that you need a substantial amount of storage, thanks to the size of Windows 10, and there aren't that many Chromebooks with large storage, since most of Chrome OS runs in the cloud. According to the code, the minimum size of the Windows partition is 30GB. For any apps that need large amount of space (e.g. Quickbooks, Photoshop, Fortnite, etc.), you'll probably want more.
Let's not forget that a copy of Windows 10 doesn't come cheap either; Windows 10 Home is $139, while Windows 10 Pro costs $199. A manufacturer Windows license is generally cheaper, but Chromebooks tend to undercut Windows laptops on price, and having Windows pre-installed would certainly raise the cost of a Chrome OS device somewhat.
It's unclear if dual-booting could support a build of Linux, like Ubuntu. 
Dual-boot Chromebooks would be a weird move on Google's part, as Chrome OS is an alternative to Windows to some degree. A dual-boot system would be meeting some users in the middle who want both a Windows and Chrome OS experience on the same device. It's similar to Boot Camp on a Mac — it gives you the best of both worlds, just for a very specific use case. 

Recently Google brought the Play Store to Chrome OS, which allows Android apps to run natively on Chromebooks. For some Windows users, it might be attractive to be able to run Android apps on their Windows machine. That's a better selling point than bringing Chrome OS to Windows users, since they can already run the Chrome browser.
Will Campfire ever be released? And when? Those are unknowns, but several posts on a Chrome OS forum imply it's being worked on by a number of forrm users. While it's unclear if all those users work for Google, only users with a '@google.com' or '@chromium.com' are supposed to be able to edit Chrome OS code.
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