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HP: webOS will still run PCs and printers

'We killed it. But it's not dead'

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After killing off its webOS hardware division last Thursday, HP has been working to assure the world – read: webOS developers – that there's "a dance in the old dame yet".

"We have opened the next chapter for webOS," developer relations headman Richard Kerris wrote in a blog post, putting a forward-looking spin on the mobile operating system's future.

"We will focus on the future of webOS as a software platform but we will no longer be producing webOS devices," he continued, insisting that athough dumping hardware production "was a difficult decision, it's one that will strengthen our ability to focus on further innovating with webOS as we forge our path forward."

On Monday, HP's webOS boss Stephen DeWitt continued the happy talk in an interview with AllThingsD. "At the end of the day, webOS is going to be a popular platform on a variety of connected devices," he predicted.

Exactly how that might be accomplished, however, remains unclear. Will HP license webOS to all comers? Partner with a single hardware vendor? Partner with different hardware vendors in different product areas? Sell the damn thing off and license it back for whatever uses it might find for it?

The oracle is silent.

You might chalk up DeWitt's indecision to a wee bit of shell shock. After all, he has been head of HP's webOS business unit for just over one month, having moved over from the company's Personal System Division – which is now also facing an uncertain future.

But DeWitt has faith. "We are continuing with our webOS-on-Windows work," and saying that HP still plans to put the operating system on PCs and printers.

Earlier this year, HP told The Reg that webOS-on-PC would appear in beta form in "coming months". Whether that time frame has been altered by last week's developments remains to be seen.

DeWitt also says that despite the fact that HP is backing away from webOS hardware, the Pre3 smartphone "is being launched in very selective areas," though he made it clear that "We're not broadly launching Pre3."

In addition, the Pre3's little brother, the compact Veer, will continue not only to be sold, but also to be supported and updated.

Although AllThingsD accompanies their article with a video of King Arthur's battle with the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, saying "webOS may look mortally wounded, but HP insists it's just a flesh wound", we fear that another well-known scene from that glorious retelling of the Arthurian legend might better describe the future of that spunky operating system. ®

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