HP Closes Palm Deal, Hints At Ditching Windows 7 For WebOS

Hewlett-Packard completed its acquisition of Palm this week and gave a hint that it could be ditching Microsoft’s Windows 7 Home Premium operating system for Palm’s webOS platform in the upcoming HP Slate tablet PC.

’Palm will be responsible for webOS software development and webOS-based hardware products, from a robust smartphone roadmap to future slate PCs and netbooks,’ Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP said in a Thursday statement announcing that its $1.2-billion acquisition of Palm was a done deal.

HP announced its bid to acquire the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based smartphone manufacturer in late April. After some initial resistance from Palm shareholders, they agreed to HP’s offer price of $5.70 per share in June.

The computing giant has been pretty clear that a key reason it wanted Palm was webOS, the mobile operating system that powers Palm’s critically acclaimed but poorly selling Pre and Pixi smartphones. Now HP has confirmed that its newly acquired mobile OS will have a place in ’future slate PCs.’

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But will webOS be the engine that drives the upper-case Slate tablet that HP first showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January?

The HP Slate demoed at CES was running the Microsoft OS and HP planned to release it sometime in the second half of 2010. In early April, Engadget published what it said was an internal HP presentation listing some of the Slate’s key specs, but just a few weeks later the tech press was reporting that the product had been canceled.

Meanwhile, Apple was demonstrating that the world was ready for a tablet PC with its hugely successful launch of the Apple iOS-powered iPad and HP was moving in on Palm, leaving many to wonder if HP would ever release a Windows-based tablet.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s HP statement doesn’t specifically say that the HP Slate shown at CES is among the ’future slate PCs’ that will run on webOS. CRN asked HP if this was the case, but we had not received a reply as of Friday -- so it’s still possible that we could see both a Windows-based tablet and a webOS-based tablet from HP, even if that increasingly seems unlikely.