Does putting WebOS on its PCs mean HP thinks Windows is over?

HP may be the latest partner to distance itself from Microsoft

By now you've heard that HP has decided to put its WebOS on every PC it makes beginning next year.

On the same day, CEO Leo Apotheker was also quoted as saying "HP has lost its soul."

He wasn't talking about WebOS. He was criticizing previous CEO Mark Hurd, who not only sexually harassed a female contractor, but also managed things so badly HP couldn't develop its own intellectual property, according to the man whose previous company admitted stealing software and other materials from Oracle.

That's mostly irrelevant, though still funny.

My question is whether putting WebOS really could be a serious bid to move beyond Windows and at least make room for a different interface (if not replace the core operating system) on standard PCs.

HP has been Microsoft's biggest, bestest partner -- except for Intel, which is also hedging its bets on Microsoft's future -- for more than a decade.

During most of that time, before Microsoft's market power was worn down by Android and iPhones and the iPad and Windows Phone 7 and Windows Vista, Steve Ballmer could reliably be expected to have flown out to HP to punch out any HP CEO who hinted the company would be any less aggressive about promoting Windows than Microsoft was.

Now Microsoft is pretty quiet, even in the face of an announcement that appears to mean HP wants to date other people (well, itself, because WebOS is its own OS, but you get what I mean).

Is it a realistic possibility?

Not that WebOS would flat-out replace Windows. No Version 1.0 operating system is going to displace another one right out the gate. PCs that ship with an option of operating systems will be a new thing for many consumers and mid-sized companies, though.

Is it realistic to think some of them will think about switching, this time around or maybe during their next big hardware refresh? Is WebOS more compatible with the ways users and companies work now

than Windows?

Will it get them thinking about whether they really have to remain standardized on Windows, or maybe they can go do something else?

Does HP's decision open the door further for the vast bulk of the IT industry that has been shut up in Redmond's dank, dark castle because they knew, no matter how terrible it was inside, if they left it, they'd starve?

Is HP really starting to abandon Microsoft, and does it mean the rest of the industry will start doing so as well?

More unlikely things appear to be happening.

The long-awaited flying car may finally be a reality. And it's a Volkswagen.

And this giant freighter is getting part of its power from a kite. A kite!

I have no current reports on whether the temperature has dropped precipitously in Hell, but I'm keeping my eyes on the wire. I'll let you know what I hear.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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