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HP claims great relationship with Microsoft, cryptic about WebOS PC plans

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Yesterday, HP unveiled a solid WebOS product lineup and revealed that it plans to bring WebOS to regular PCs and laptops as well. Naturally, this news had us all wondering what will happen to Windows. Well, Windows lovers, this may still be a bad dream, but it isn’t your worst nightmare. In a clarification video on HP’s TheNextBench blog, Phil McKinney, HP’s chief technical officer, laid to rest any fears that HP would abandon Microsoft.

“HP’s got a phenomenal relationship with Microsoft,” said McKinney. “We’re the largest OEM shipping Microsoft’s platforms. Microsoft is HP’s largest partner from a technology partnership perspective, so we’ve got a longstanding, great relationship and nothing in the announcements today changes that. We’ve got, you know, our PCs and our laptops going out with Windows operating platforms; we’ve got teams working together on future versions and giving feedback to Microsoft as they continue to work on future iterations of the operating system. So nothing about the announcement today changes what we have as a great relationship with Microsoft.”

Regardless, putting a new operating system on a laptop or desktop computer is something that just hasn’t happened in years. It is a shakeup, no matter how you spin it.

Bridging the PC with other devices

Speaking with PC Mag, Steven McArthur, senior VP of consumer applications at HP, spoke of WebOS as a way to connect the PC and other devices. “The way I would think about it in the vein of what a couple of the other majors are trying to do – Apple and Google,” said McArthur. “They have a world where they’re bifurcated between their mobile apps, with thir portable systems and their desktop systems. We think it’s possible to do that in a much more elegant way, and deliver this ecosystem on a PC.”

This, of course, leads us to wonder if HP will simply preload all of its PCs with WebOS as a pre-booting OS (WebOS starts up with your computer and you can launch Windows from there if you’d like) or if it will sell some PCs with Windows and some with WebOS.

Synergy

McArther clarified his statements a bit and talked a bit about synergy between devices, something HP began mentioning yesterday.

“We think about [synergy] very much – and I don’t think we’ve talked about this before – HP is very focused on creating compelling and very consistent language to interact with customers with,” said McArthur. “WebOS affords us the opportunity to do that. In the past HP has done stuff like TouchSmart, with overlays, and very frankly the attach rate, the usage rate has always been disappointing. But think about an ecosystem…now combine that interface with the set of services that makes all your information available to you instantaneously, whatever device you’re on. All of your content, all of the various other pieces of the puzzle that are there, i.e. your home PC, available to you in a seamless way and available to you a way that any changes you make on an endpoint, like a smartphone tablet, instantaneously sync back to your home portfolio. Nobody else can do that, by the way.”

Hopefully, HP will more clearly outline its vision in the near future.