How to Run Windows Apps on a Chromebook
It is possible to run Windows apps on a Chromebook, but it's not a project for the faint of heart, and it won't necessarily work flawlessly. But, surprisingly, it doesn't involve wiping the OS and installing Windows.
First, you'll need a relatively new Chromebook that supports Android apps. So, at the moment, that limits you to the Acer Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R11 and the Google Chromebook Pixel. But more Chromebooks will be getting that access soon.
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Next, you'll need to request access to the CrossOver Android app through the Codeweavers site. CrossOver Android is based on Wine, which can run Windows inside of Linux, Mac and Solaris. You'll need to give Codeweavers your email address that's connected to your Google Play account. Do not count on this arriving the day you make the request, based on PCWorld's experience.
When you do receive the link via email, it takes you to the Google Play store so you can opt-in to the beta and click download. The app works by creating a Windows compatibility layer inside Chrome OS. You don't need to install Windows. It actually opens a Windows-like environment with icons for notepad, file explorer, control panel, a start button and a command prompt.
You can install Steam, Office 2007, Office 2010 and WinZip. Note: You'll need installation files for Office. For any other programs to run, the app must consider them "known-good." Apps may run in very small windows, and they may not run at all (dangers of a beta and emulation). But, it's an interesting first step to making Chromebooks even more useful.