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HP inching away from Vista's bad rep?

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With Apple's expanding Mac sales and other OS efforts suggesting to PC vendors that flogging non-Windows boxes isn't the kiss of death in the consumer space, Hewlett-Packard may be considering a life less dependent on Microsoft's operating system.

BusinessWeek cites anonymous sources at HP claiming the tech giant is developing software to bypass certain features of Vista. A separate team is even reportedly working on HP's own flavor of Linux to avoid Windows altogether.

The first rumor may hold more water. The weekly business journal seems to have created and knocked down the idea of a consumer HP-tailored Linux in the very same breath. From, Phil McKinney, HP's chief tech officer for the PC division:

"Is HP funding a huge R&D team to go off and create an operating system? [That] makes no sense. For us it's about innovating on top of Vista."

At least its feasible that HP is considering rolling out from under Vista.

Despite the denial of spending any significant time or resources on such a project, BW says HP's PC unit is toying with the idea of an operating system based on Linux that's "simpler and easier for mainstream users."

The yet-to-be substantiated threat of Apple releasing a notebook at a competitive price to HP's low-cost mobile wares - combined with Vista's reputation being as good as mud with many consumers - is apparently spooking the HP crew to take action.

IBM and Dell have also already seen some success offering Linux-based alternatives in select desktops and PCs. Then there's the rising popularity of netbooks running a lightweight versions of Linux. HP itself has its hand in the market.

It all seems to indicate consumers are slowly warming up to Windows alternatives. True or not, HP weighing its options isn't good news for Microsoft.

Looks like it's time to put Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates on double-duty pitching for Vista. ®

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