HP Will Ship WebOS As An Addition To Windows, Not A Replacement

hp touchpad

Photo: Gizmodo

This morning’s introduction of the HP TouchPad and other new WebOS devices lasted more than two hours, but it was worth sticking it out for the interesting news that came toward the end: later this year, HP will begin shipping WebOS on new laptop and notebook PCs.That means that WebOS developers will suddenly have a potential market of about 100 million devices per year — more than iOS, Android, or any other mobile platform.

It also seemed to spell bad news for Microsoft, whose Windows operating system still powers more than 90% of all personal computers (Apple’s OS X has most of the rest). HP is Microsoft’s biggest Windows reseller.

But in fact, WebOS won’t be replacing Windows. After the event, a spokesperson explained that WebOS would probably ship as a customised user interface running on top of Windows, very similar to HP’s TouchSmart today. So Microsoft will still get its Windows revenue — for now.

In the long run, though, HP’s move is still bad for Microsoft. Developers build for the platform that lets them reach the most users. Five years ago, Windows was the only native platform (that is, not including Web platforms like JavaScript) that could make developers a lot of money.

Now there are at least three — Windows, iOS, and Android. With HP’s announcement, there’s yet another. And where developers go, consumers and businesses eventually follow.

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