HP announces plans to add webOS to its Windows PCs

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
Almost lost at the end of its more than two hour long webOS event was the news that HP plans to apply its webOS experience on new PCs it sells, initially augmenting rather than replacing Windows in a bid to greatly expand the new environment's installed base.



Previously, HP's John Rubinstein had noted that the company has plans to use webOS in its line of printers. But near the end of today's event, executive VP of Personal Systems Todd Bradley reportedly added, "our commitment is to extend the WebOS experience across devices for our customers, and creating the broadest ecosystem to our partners," explicitly including HP's PCs as a target for webOS, according to the SAI live blog by Matt Rosoff.



The point of mentioning the potential for a webOS layer on its PCs did not appear to be a threat to further distance itself from Microsoft's Windows. Instead, Bradley appeared to be making the case for a large enough installed base to matter, something that had been a serious problem for webOS at Palm, and which continues to threaten the relevance of yet another mobile OS today.



HP hopes to make a webOS splash



"Do the math on two PCs per second," Bradley said. "You easily exceed 100 million devices with WebOS deployed annually. That's the start of something pretty big."



By adding a webOS layer to its PCs, HP could greatly expand the visible presence of its new platform, potentially even creating a large enough audience to rival the development interest in Apple's iOS App Store. Such a move would essentially give HP the opportunity to run the equivalent of Apple's iOS App Store and its Mac App Store combined into one storefront serving a combined audience of smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.



In addition to rocketing webOS into the mobile big leagues next to Apple and Android, and likely ahead of both RIM's separate BlackBerry and PlayBook platforms and Microsoft's fledgling WP7, moving webOS to the PC desktop would also give HP, for the first time in more than two decades, the opportunity to take back its software destiny from Microsoft.



This all happened before



Back in the late 80s, HP floated an object-oriented graphical desktop environment named NewWave for its PCs. The layer ran on top of Microsoft's Windows 2.0 and 3.0 and was intended to be ported to IBM's OS/2 and the company's own HP-UX distribution of Unix, facilitating a consistent platform for business apps.



Apple sued HP over NewWave, along with Microsoft's Windows, for copying elements of its Macintosh desktop. But the real demise for NewWave came in 1995, when Microsoft added portions of the functionality of HP's NewWave and made enough other changes in Windows 95 to require significant work by HP to continue to maintain the environment.



HP decided to drop NewWave instead, in part to avoid antagonizing Microsoft, which had announced plans to deliver its own object oriented development platform named Cairo, which Microsoft hoped to aim at HP's NewWave, IBM's OS/2, and Steve Jobs' NeXSTEP.



Cairo never materialized, leaving HP to play the subservient hardware partner following Microsoft's platform lead over the next decade and a half. Last year, HP's embarrassing role in Microsoft's Slate PC fiasco prompted the world's largest PC maker to buy Palm and build its own unique tablet and mobile strategy.



Putting webOS back in the game



By also layering webOS across its PC offerings, HP could reclaim the role of developing an application layer that not only holds the potential to add unique value to its PCs, but also to chart its own future independent of Microsoft, even as it attempts to build a credible alternative to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.



HP appears to have a limited opportunity to make this happen, with Apple having built up an installed base of millions of iOS users surrounded by an enthusiastic development ecosystem, while Google seems to have effectively replaced JavaME as the common software platform for the majority of other smartphone vendors outside of the top three makers globally: Nokia, Apple and RIM.



The prospect of HP being able to leverage its vast PC sales, many of which are tied to enterprise users, to resurrect the webOS as a viable contender in the smartphone arena is an interesting turn of events. At the same time, HP will also face new competition from RIM's PlayBook, a series of new Android tablets running 3.0 Honeycomb, and Apple's own iPad 2.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    I think HP's webos is a valiant attempt...but I don't envy them working with the Windows OS! Uggggh!



    Best
  • Reply 2 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    I think HP's webos is a valiant attempt...but I don't envy them working with the Windows OS! Uggggh!



    Best



    Then what the hell are they supposed to work with? Certainly not OS X. I hope you you realize there aren't many choices out there.



    I'm looking forward to this. Maybe Apple will do something similar, allowing iPhone apps to run on the Mac.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    z3r0z3r0 Posts: 230member
    Out of all the companies out there HP has the most potential to develop a platform that closely mimic's Apple's. HP looks like its trying to go vertical and concentrate on user experience. Its something they have to do in order to survive. Look at Dell and how they are quickly becoming irrelevant.



    HP has both the hardware and the software and are recruiting former Apple employees. WebOS has the potential to morph into Cloud OS, not just power mobile devices and printers. HP also has the business edge and is established in the enterprise market.



    Its too bad Apple is trying to leave the enterprise when they should be making a push into it. After all server hardware has to powers the cloud.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Looks like everyone is gunning for Microsoft.

    The Enterprise will be have to be wooed by WebOS enough to side step Windows. Apple's BootCamp bridge to Windows accommodates both platforms. Perhaps WebOS and Windows can coexist.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I’d say the two biggest chances at a credible iOS alternative (meaning: one that’s truly great, not just “good enough” to move banner ads) are, in no particular order:



    * A future evolution of WebOS. (And HP is keeping it moving, clearly; although they’re not moving as fast as anyone would like.)



    * Something derived from Android as a base, but taken in a new and incompatible direction, under a new name, by a single big vendor who uses Android only as a stepping stone for something better—something more focused on the user experience and less in pleasing carriers and handset makers.



    Either would be an Apple-like approach (in a good way).



    All three (iOS, WebOS, Android) have actual (Mac) or potential routes to the desktop. And iOS-alikes (touch OS’s) ARE the future, long-term. Not the current 80s-style mouse-and-windows useful-but-problematic specialized “trucks.” (I’ll always love those, and they’ll stick around, but they won’t be the norm in the end.)



    I’d add Microsoft to the list, since Windows 7 Home Phone ET (or whetever the name) shows some actual originality; but I think they’re too slow to move and too far behind to catch up. Microsoft is huge (and Nokia too if they work together) so it may be a “success” in numbers, but not in the sense that I mean. They’ll still be good to have in the market, for competition and variety.



    RIM could surprise me with a great and widespread OS, but... I’d be surprised! I think they’ll get too much wrong for the stuff they get right.
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by z3r0 View Post


    Out of all the companies out there HP has the most potential to develop a platform that closely mimic's Apple's. HP looks like its trying to go vertical and concentrate on user experience. Its something they have to do in order to survive. Look at Dell and how they are quickly becoming irrelevant.



    HP has both the hardware and the software and are recruiting former Apple employees. WebOS has the potential to morph into Cloud OS, not just power mobile devices and printers. HP also has the business edge and is established in the enterprise market.



    Its too bad Apple is trying to leave the enterprise when they should be making a push into it. After all server hardware has to powers the cloud.



    They don't have the Engineering talent of Apple's core with all the experience since the days of NeXT. Those guys aren't leaving Apple for HP.



    Sure there are a few underlings who have come and gone and come and gone at Apple and have either worked at Palm or elsewhere, but they aren't key members.



    This strategy is going to cost HP a fortune in both resources, time and pure cash to ultimately flop.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    Jesus H.... NewWave? Are you kidding me? HP dropped the ball back when Steve Wozniak showed them his Apple I and they said, "Why would anyone buy a personal computer?" and with that, walked away from a huge new business. Know who had the vision to turn Woz's creation into a business? Yup. Steve Jobs. HP has gotta be getting used to playing catch-up.



    And yes, this is the last dying gasp of webOS. Java tried and look how it replaced native PC applications with rich active content on the web. Oh wait, Java is practically forgotten. As will be the case with webOS.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    I think webOS probably makes a lot of sense on netbooks. It ought to run more efficiently than Windows and it currently can run on ARM chips. Did they make any announcements about their development environment? I can't see them getting many sophisticated applications unless they give developers something more than just HTML and JavaScript to develop with.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member
    As a layer on top of Windows, I think this will fail totally. As a standalone environment, I think it would have a chance, but if users have to manage Windows to run it, there's absolutely no simplicity advantage, it's actually more complicated. As a special Windows environment, I don't think developers will support it either, and apps designed to work on touchscreen systems won't work well in a keyboard and mouse environment. This is a waste of time and resources for HP.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    penchantedpenchanted Posts: 1,070member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    They don't have the Engineering talent of Apple's core with all the experience since the days of NeXT. Those guys aren't leaving Apple for HP.



    Sure there are a few underlings who have come and gone and come and gone at Apple and have either worked at Palm or elsewhere, but they aren't key members.



    I have always been curious about what percentage of the NeXT engineering staff has stayed on with Apple. It's been my belief that the number is substantial and that they are the people truly driving OS development forward (in the background as everyone assumes that all the ideas come from Jobs).
  • Reply 11 of 29
    First of all I think augmenting Windows PCs with WebOS is a bad idea. It sounds like the BeOS idea that failed in the 1990s. This also makes me feel like the WebOS guys are reaching for straws to keep WebOS alive.



    I think the TouchPad is an awesome device. It appears to be ready to go. HP should have had pricing and should have been selling the TouchPad within a week. I am disappointed that HP does not appear to be 100% behind the TouchPad probably because of Microsoft and their bullshit tablet plans. Reading between the lines, I think HP cares more about using WebOS in their printers than the TouchPAD and phones.



    Time will tell.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by HahaHaha321 View Post


    Then what the hell are they supposed to work with? Certainly not OS X. I hope you you realize there aren't many choices out there.



    Linux. After all, Linux is 'open', so it is clearly going to win the OS wars.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Here's where it gets interesting. It seems pretty clear that touch tablets are the next phase of personal computing, taking their place as personal desktops and laptops did in the years before.



    But there was no problem migrating from desktop to laptop, because they ran the same software. MS wanted to move to the tablet using their desktop OS but it didn't work, because the shift from keyboard/mouse to touch is too fundamentally different to be able to simply replace mouse clicks with taps.



    So Apple showed how its done: a lighter weight OS specifically designed for touch, that can preform well on power and cpu constrained hardware. And everyone else is following suit.



    But as we move further into this revolution, at some point we're going to need to merge the old worlds of desktop computing with the new touch-centric universe. Since MS couldn't figure out how to touch-ify Windows, it's been left to Apple to be the only player in this space who has an OS codebase that spans both worlds. The competition (Android, RIM, and HP/Palm, at the moment) is left to figure out how to expand their phone and tablet operating systems back toward laptop or desktop systems, so they can control a complete range of computing environments. But they're either going to have to rely on MS and make their mobile OS a grafted add-on (as HP/Palm is doing), or offer "cloud centric" quasi operating systems that use remote servers to make up for limited local OS (as Google has done and RIM appears to intend).



    Apple, meanwhile, can use its OS X technologies simultaneously on iOS and the desktop, bringing them into alignment however it pleases. They don't have to rent, purchase, borrow or graft anything, and they don't have to jump through hoops to establish the link between their mobile devices and their traditional computing devices. The unification of OS X and iOS is just a matter of nomenclature and UI deployed as is appropriate.



    I'm thinking this is an enormous strategic advantage that hasn't shown itself yet.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    They're going to do WHAT???



    MS allowing this is basically an admission of what we all knew already: Windows sucks. So hard, in fact, that you have to hide it.



    Windows is already a pain in the ass, and now some also-ran box-assembler is introducing another interface "layered" on top of it?



    This has disaster written all over it.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    Is HP reacting to Lion in terms of PC level "experiences"? Sort of looks that way. Maybe someone figured out that this summer Apple will deliver some stronger ties between iOS and OS X.



    That would also tie in with the rumors of an iPad3 in 6 or so months. A new iOS version linking to Lion and some new mobile devices (iPhone, iPad and touch) to go with this updated OS Duo.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Article Clarifications:



    Microsoft's Cairo was vapor ware to counter... Steve Jobs NeXT Inc upcoming version of their operating systems code named MECCA. Mecca was scaled back and ultimately became OPENSTEP.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,469member
    I expect Apple will provide an iOS environment with Lion (for normal users, not just developers), or maybe sooner for SL.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Here's where it gets interesting. It seems pretty clear that touch tablets are the next phase of personal computing, taking their place as personal desktops and laptops did in the years before.



    But there was no problem migrating from desktop to laptop, because they ran the same software. MS wanted to move to the tablet using their desktop OS but it didn't work, because the shift from keyboard/mouse to touch is too fundamentally different to be able to simply replace mouse clicks with taps.



    So Apple showed how its done: a lighter weight OS specifically designed for touch, that can preform well on power and cpu constrained hardware. And everyone else is following suit.



    But as we move further into this revolution, at some point we're going to need to merge the old worlds of desktop computing with the new touch-centric universe. Since MS couldn't figure out how to touch-ify Windows, it's been left to Apple to be the only player in this space who has an OS codebase that spans both worlds. The competition (Android, RIM, and HP/Palm, at the moment) is left to figure out how to expand their phone and tablet operating systems back toward laptop or desktop systems, so they can control a complete range of computing environments. But they're either going to have to rely on MS and make their mobile OS a grafted add-on (as HP/Palm is doing), or offer "cloud centric" quasi operating systems that use remote servers to make up for limited local OS (as Google has done and RIM appears to intend).



    Apple, meanwhile, can use its OS X technologies simultaneously on iOS and the desktop, bringing them into alignment however it pleases. They don't have to rent, purchase, borrow or graft anything, and they don't have to jump through hoops to establish the link between their mobile devices and their traditional computing devices. The unification of OS X and iOS is just a matter of nomenclature and UI deployed as is appropriate.



    I'm thinking this is an enormous strategic advantage that hasn't shown itself yet.



    I absolutely agree. As mobile devices (smart phones, tablets) get more powerful there will be a need and desire to tie everything together and Apple is the only company that has already has all the core pieces in place to pull everything together with their iOS OS X codebase.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    HP have plenty of engineering talent - don't forget they still have one of the major Unix distributions, and a lot of engineering talent in the ARM/mobile and embedded device space too. They are not Dell.



    They've never been strong on client/desktop software though (which was Sun's weakness) but it's evident they've got some of that with buying in WebOS itself.



    The thing that strikes me, though, is that most of those PCs being sold, are being wiped and re-installed with a standard image by business IT - so shipping WebOS wouldn't be a huge advantage.



    (It's also very similar to the Chrome App store/ChromeOS - WebKit as platform)
  • Reply 20 of 29
    I have been insulted on this site and the moderators don't give a stuff.

    These people who insult should be banned, instead I am being ignored or belittled.

    If these moderators cannot do their job properly, I think they should step down.

    Come one ban me, this will be just like censorship, because you don't like criticism right.
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