When HP abruptly announced it was discontinuing the TouchPad and ceasing work on any future devices running webOS, we took that to mean the underdog operating system had died a premature death. But when the company ousted bumbling CEO Leo Apotheker and replaced him with Meg Whitman, we had to wonder if webOS might have some life in it yet. Well, HP just came back with a final verdict: the company will continue to develop webOS, as promised, but with the help of the open source community. In other words, webOS as a platform will live on, and developers both inside HP and out will spruce up the OS for interested OEMs (whoever they may be), along with people who already own webOS devices. Says Sam Greenblatt, CTO of the outfit's advanced technologies division: "We looked at all the various options we have on the table. We think this option is the best for the tech industry and HP."

Nonetheless, if you were hoping Whitman would resurrect the TouchPad and Pre 3 beyond just another fire sale, we hate to be the bearer of disappointing news. The bottom line: HP's webOS hardware lineup is still dead -- for now, at least. Greenblatt emphasized that HP might later choose to build devices running webOS, the same way any other OEM would evaluate any other operating system. In an interview, company representatives were also quick to say that with the help of developers outside HP, webOS could become a more attractive choice for devices other than phones and tablets (printers, anyone?). Still, though Greenblatt says there has been a "great deal" of interest from companies eyeing the software, it remains unclear which manufactures, if any, will decide to give the OS a more immediate home.

Update: TechCrunch got a copy of Meg Whitman's memo to the troops, find after the break.

From: CEO – Meg Whitman
Sent: Friday, December 09, 2011 2:03 PM
Subject: webOS to be contributed to the open source community

Meg Whitman
CEO

TO/ All Employees

SUBJECT/ webOS to be contributed to the open source community

Today, we announced that HP will contribute our webOS software to the open source community and support its development going forward. We believe that this is the best way to ensure the benefits of webOS are accessible to the largest possible ecosystem.

Since we announced the discontinuation of our webOS devices last August, the executive team has been working to determine the best path forward for this highly respected software. We looked at all the options in the market today and we see a clear need for a platform that is both open and has a single integrated stack.

webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected, and scalable. By providing webOS to the open source community and other hardware vendors we have the potential to fundamentally change the landscape.

HP engineers, partners, other developers and hardware manufacturers will be able to contribute to the development of webOS. Together, we have an opportunity to make it the foundation of a new generation of devices, applications and services to address the rapidly evolving demands of both consumers and enterprises.

I would like to thank the webOS team for continuing your efforts under very difficult circumstances during these last couple of months. Your dedication is very much appreciated.

This is a very positive move for the development of our people, our software and HP overall.

We strongly believe that the best days for webOS are still ahead.

Best,

Meg

Show full PR text
HP to Contribute webOS to Open Source
HP to enable creativity of the community to accelerate the next-generation web-centric platform

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 9, 2011 – HP today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community.

HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience.

"webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. "By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."

HP will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.

HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:

- The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the
webOS platform
- HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
- Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
- Software will be provided as a pure open source project

HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space.

Beginning today, developers and customers are invited to provide input and suggestions at http://developer.palm.com/blog/.

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HP: webOS to live on through open source, hardware lineup still dead (for now)