HP to put WebOS on personal computers

The PC maker, which picked up WebOS in its purchase of handset maker Palm, plans to bring the previously mobile-only OS to desktops, printers and other devices
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

In a largely unanticipated move, HP has said that it will bring its WebOS operating system — currently used to run its Pre and Pixi Plus smartphones — to desktop computers.

HP TouchPad tablet with WebOS

HP has announced plans to extend the range of WebOS, as it launched its TouchPad tablet (above). Photo credit: HP

Todd Bradley, head of HP's personal systems group, revealed the WebOS plan at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday, held to introduce the hardware maker's upcoming smartphones and TouchPad tablet. The new hardware extends the number of devices running WebOS, and Bradley said the company is looking to add even more.

"We have a commitment to [take] the platform to other connected devices, including printers and other form factors that you haven't seen before," Bradley said. "I'm excited to announce our plans to bring the WebOS to the device that has the biggest reach of all: the personal computer."

HP picked up WebOS in July 2010 when it purchased Palm for $1.2bn (then worth £788m). At the time, the PC manufacturer said that in addition to using the operating system for the Palm-developed Pre smartphone range, it would develop WebOS for a variety of devices, including "slate PCs and netbooks".

With the move, HP shifts to giving developers the opportunity to develop on one operating system for a range of devices, like rivals such as Android or iOS.

The Enyo development framework, which was released for download on Thursday, supports this shift. The framework, available for people in the WebOS Early Access Program, enables developers to create apps for vastly different screen sizes.

I'm excited to announce our plans to bring the WebOS to the device that has the biggest reach of all: the personal computer.
– Todd Bradley, HP

In addition, it allows WebOS apps to run in a standard browser without the installation of any software or the need for an emulator. However, HP has not said whether the Enyo framework will play any role in getting the WebOS platform on to PCs.

In another shift, HP said that the Pre3 and Veer smartphones introduced on Wednesday will drop the Palm branding.

The Pre3 will run WebOS 2.2, while the TouchPad tablet will run WebOS 3.0. All three have a new feature called Tap-to-Share that will allow a user to transfer open URLs, documents, music, SMS messages or even calls from one device to another. This feature will work with any device running WebOS 2.2 and higher.

The HP TouchPad and Pre3 are both scheduled to launch this summer, with exact pricing to be revealed closer to the release. The Veer is expected to launch a little before that, in the spring.

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