Photo: Ellis Hamburger
Hewlett-Packard launches the TouchPad this week, but expect the company to build Windows 8 tablets once it ships next year.Fast Company asked HP’s PC boss Phil McKinney if they’d ship a Windows 8 tablet. He said he couldn’t say much, but that HP is working very closely with Microsoft on Windows 8. Then he flashed a big grin.
Developer relations head Richard Kerris was vaguer, but admitted Windows 8 tablets are a possibility if customers demand it.
The thing is, HP has long been Microsoft’s favourite go-to hardware partner. The first Media centre PC was from HP. The first Windows Home Server was from HP. The company stuck with Windows XP Tablets long after it was clear they weren’t taking off, and even made a Media centre Extender — a device that connected to a PC and streamed info from a Media centre PC over the air. (That function was later built into the Xbox 360, making the Extenders unnecessary.)
HP is definitely going to ship Windows 8 PCs — it’s still the biggest PC maker in the world. The most interesting feature in Windows 8 is going to be the new tablet interface. So HP would be crazy to take a stance against Windows 8 tablets just to protect the TouchPad.
So why did HP buy Palm last year?
Probably in part to light a fire under Microsoft to come up with a Windows-based response to the iPad, which had just been announced by Apple a couple months before.
And probably in part as a hedge, so HP wouldn’t have to rely on Google’s Android if it wanted to get a tablet out fast while Microsoft took its sweet time. Both McKinney and Kerris went out of their way to slam Android in their Fast Company interview.