Phone 7/Nokia merger excitement, buzz surrounding Hewlett Packard Co.'s big
of upcoming devices, including the Pre3 has largely died
out. But last week HP made headlines not for its smartphones or tablets,
but for an unusual announcement -- it would be putting webOS on PCs. A
slide from last Wednesday showed both desktops and laptops sporting webOS.
And just like that HP and Microsoft's relationship headed into Apple-Google
love-hate territory. And that's pretty significant, given that HP is the
world's largest manufacturer of personal computers.
In an interview with
the Seattle Pi, Phil McKinney, (left) chief technology officer
of HP's personal systems group, offers some insight into why HP is giving
Microsoft Windows the boot on a number of its devices.
Asked if HP is "dumping" Windows entirely, Mr. McKinney remarks,
"No, there's a huge user base that still wants the PC. The key is that
even on their PCs, people want to have it integrated with their devices. We
have our PCs, you have your pads, you've got your phones. How do they work
together? In today's world they all act as individual information islands. What
WebOS does is bring all that together."
Asked whether the webOS PCs would merely be virtual machines within Windows,
Mr. McKinney denied this. Apparently the webOS PCs will be exactly what
they sound like -- a full-fledged webOS operating system on a personal computer. Mr. McKinney comments, "No,
it's not virtualization. It's an integrated WebOS experience we're looking to
Asked why HP didn't merely work with Microsoft to include the missing features
it wanted in Windows 8,
Mr. McKinney replies, "We have a great partnership with Microsoft. You
think about the number of PCs we sell, we're Microsoft's largest customer. We
have a huge installed base of Microsoft platforms. We're working with Microsoft
on the future of Windows and we're very optimistic on what that future is, but
what we think is we can bring an enhancement to that."
Asked if the introduction of webOS tablets and other mobile devices in the
consumer market will cause confusion among business purchasers, Mr. McKinney
states, "With WebOS on a PC, you won't have to make that choice. You can
develop your WebOS app that'll run on your phone, your slate and your PC."
Overall Mr. McKinney's talk makes it clear that HP is taking webOS PCs
seriously, and hints that the company may be moving away from Windows.
That leaves Microsoft and HP with a pretty awkward relationship. In the
IT market HP will sell Windows products. But in the consumer market, it
will be pushing webOS competitors to Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 products.
At the end of the day, one of the interesting things about this development is
that it represents the personal computing/mobile computing industry's division
into two camps -- one who makes an OS and shares it with a number of hardware
partners (Google, Microsoft), the other who makes both the OS and the hardware
on a single proprietary platform (HP, Apple, RIM). Both strategies are
backed by some of the tech industry's biggest names. Time will only tell