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Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker said his company has decided to pursue a WebOS-only strategy for tablets and smartphones, meaning that Microsoft's Windows operating system does not, for now at least, factor into the world's biggest computer maker's mobile plans.
Ed. Note: In response to this story, Hewlett-Packard said that it is still committed to Windows-based tablets, namely the HP Slate mentioned later in this article. Apotheker's comments about Windows, a spokesman said, were in reference to the company's forthcoming WebOS-based products.
"HP smartphones and tablets will be running WebOS, only WebOS, at least that's for the near future, that's the plan" said Apotheker, in an interview published Tuesday by Fortune.
HP in February said it planned to introduce a range of products that run WebOS, which the company gained through its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm last year. But it was believed that HP would aim those products primarily at consumers, while continuing to develop mobile products for the enterprise that use Windows.
Apotheker's comments indicate that won't be the case, though he did stress that WebOS PCs would also run Windows.
HP's move could be risky. Businesses looking to add slates to their computing arsenals may be reluctant to adopt an untried mobile platform, and might well wait until Microsoft eventually delivers a true tablet OS with the release of Windows 8 next year. Microsoft has said Windows 8 will include a version that runs on ARM's nimble mobile architecture.
On the other hand, HP may be concerned that it's losing too much ground to Apple and Google in the tablet market to wait for its longtime partner to produce an alternative.
As recently as the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft and HP said they planned to produce a Windows-based tablet for the business market. The companies actually did deliver a device, the HP Slate 500 Tablet PC—but its $800 price tag and lack of promotion from HP doomed it to obscurity.
HP is now pushing its WebOS-based TouchPad to both consumers and businesses, noting, in promotional materials, that the device "includes essential productivity apps right of the box," including Google Apps. The TouchPad also syncs and integrates with HP's WebOS-based Palm Pre phones through a cloud-based technology called Synergy.
HP has said it plans to ship the TouchPad this summer.