I started to take the step to switch from Windows to Chrome OS back in 2017.
That’s when I bought my first Chromebook, but actually to just test Chrome OS, and got stuck right away.
I was really upset by Windows at the time, both privately and as an employee at work. Long-lasting Windows updates, slow virus scanners, hooky systems, problems with OneDrive like sync errors, etc. You turn on a regular-priced Chromebook, and it just runs. With a Windows notebook, you have to spend a little more money or disable many things and modify the system to make it work. Even then, it still bugs me. Maybe you feel the same way or have other reasons to switch to Chrome OS.
I want to give you a little overview of how to go about it here. More guides follow, e.g., on data migration and aspects such as differences in operation and behavior of the systems. I’ll give you lots of tips on that. This way, you can focus on the essentials, and the starting point from your perspective may be very different from others. This way, you can concentrate on the essentials. From your perspective, the starting situation may be very different from others.
My experiences with Windows
It’s been a long time since I used my first Windows version, and I don’t know it exactly anymore. It must have been around 1998, and give or take a year or two. That’s when I bought my first PC at a computer store around the corner.
Suppose that means anything to you, a 486 DX 4-100 with MS-DOS 6.22. Windows 3.11 was installed in parallel at that time.
Since then, I have used several Windows versions over the years. Partly with pleasure, partly with strong dislike due to bugs and problems. Nevertheless, I was a die-hard Windows fan for quite a long time. Since I caught malware with Windows 7 for the first and last time since then, which encrypted my whole system, being a Fan has changed not only because of that. In this case, a known web page was compressed. No further details.
More anecdotes elsewhere sometime. However, you can clearly see that I have been using Windows for over 20 years and have had my share of experiences with it. I touched on what bothers me about Windows in the introduction. You may have other reasons for wanting to use Chrome OS. I now use Windows 11 partially in a virtual machine on my Apple MacBook Air M1 that I carry alongside my Chromebook on my travels. That way I can bring content, like this article here, to you. In doing so, I prefer not to portray myself as a Windows expert, but rather discuss a switch from Windows to Chrome OS.
Update 2/10/2022 End
Before you start
If you depend, for example, on your favorite tax software or games on Windows privately that you don’t want to part with, neither may be available on Chrome OS. There are online tax applications, and via Stadia, GeforceNow, and especially Shadow, e.g., many games can be played without problems, but possibly not yours. If you are a gaming professional and want to squeeze every ounce of performance out of your system, game streaming is probably not for you either.
If you use your Windows laptop for business and want to switch to a Chromebook, not all of your apps may be available there either. Let’s take Adobe Creative Cloud as an example. You can also use some applications which belong to it on Chrome OS as web or Android versions, but they do not have the same range of functions. If you only use web software, I would even recommend you to switch directly, apart from other factors like special printers, scanners and other devices you use. There can also be hardware limitations. Newer devices like printers are almost always compatible. Your mouse and keyboard should also work on the Chromebook in most cases.
Further important topics to consider
Here I’ve compiled a list of popular Windows software on Chrome OS, which is growing all the time: Link. It’s far from complete. If you want to find out if your software or hardware is available on Chrome OS, your best bet is to search the web for their name with “Chrome OS.” I also keep posting guides about it on my channels. However, on the blog, I focus on the software side, as I am a digital nomad, and can only carry limited devices!
The mapping of special keys is also a bit different on Chrome OS. For example, there are no up and delete keys! Is that an absolute no-go for you?
These are just a few examples. If you are open to new things and get involved, you will find a convenient way to do almost everything under Chrome OS. Maybe sometimes it takes a little more time and patience. I also took my time and now enjoy using Chrome OS daily.
The safest way to switch to Chrome OS is to use a Chromebook parallel with your old Windows notebook, as I already described in the “Switch to Chrome OS” overview. Then you can set everything up at your leisure and, when you’re happy, part with your Windows device or continue using it in parallel.
What does Google have to say about it?
Google provides a little guide on how to switch from Windows to Chrome OS: Link.
I’ll summarize here for you in my own way what Google describes there and give further tips.
Attention: Before you start right away, or you can’t do anything with the description: This is only one possible way! If your files and photos are in OneDrive or Dropbox and you prefer not to switch to Google Drive, then leave them there. You can also continue to work with it in principle. So don’t let that scare you off here. You can also connect your external hard drive to a Chromebook! However, you get the most out of a Chromebook and Chrome OS with Google Drive because it’s more deeply integrated into the system. It’s no different with OneDrive and Windows 11.
Here now is the procedure:
- For example, on your PC, log in to Google Drive, and you need a Google account for that.
- Download and install the Google Drive client from there
- Back up all your important files with the client
- Log in to your Chromebook with the same Google account
- All your files are already available in the Files app of Chrome OS and via the Google Drive website
Furthermore, Google has described what you can do with Chrome OS: Link. I find this collection of tips already not so bad for the start. You can read more about it here. 😉
Where do we go from here?
Here it depends a bit on which Windows version you use.
If you still know Windows 7, many things will seem familiar to you. On the other hand, many Chrome OS elements appear similarly in newer versions of Windows, like 10 and 11. For example, look at the Control Panel in Windows and the System Settings in Chrome OS. It used to be a lot of panels with small controls, and now it’s almost all big switches that you can flip. That basically makes it easier for both camps.
Your files are available to you, but what about the software?
If you’ve been using Windows and the Windows Store for a while and Chrome or Edge is your primary browser, then you should be OK with Chrome OS. It provides the Chrome browser, Google Play Store with Android apps, and the Files app. If you’re used to installing desktop software manually, Chrome OS’s Linux mode might be for you if you can’t find an equivalent on the web, among Chrome browser extensions, or on Android, or if you prefer the desktop variant.
I still owe you an introduction to the use of Chrome OS, and this will follow in the next few weeks.
An important topic is emailing. You are ready to go if you already use Gmail as your main account. If not, you have to decide whether you want to continue using your current service or switch to the Google solution as well. The same applies to the contacts. With Gmail, you can import data from other services under “Settings” ⇒ “All settings” ⇒ “Accounts & import” ⇒ “Import emails and contacts” or “Retrieve messages from other accounts.”
You now ideally have your data such as files, emails, contacts, your software, and hardware basically set up and ready to go.😉
Of course, this was just a quick overview, and I only touched on a few topics, but this should get you off to a great start with Chrome OS if you want to switch from Windows. I wish you a lot of fun with it. 😀
More guides and videos will follow, and I will link those here. I still need some time for my planned online courses and finish my e-book on this topic.
Where do you see problems when switching from Windows to Chrome OS? What do you want me to address in particular?
You are welcome to leave a comment, and we’ll go from there! The community and I will try to help you out. 🙂
More as always on the blog.
2/10/2022: Added a section about my experiences with Windows and tweaked a few things.
Words in italics may be registered trademarks or companies! Examples: Google, YouTube, and Android. Or they are technical terms from the IT world, which are described in various locations in the blog.