updated 05:55 pm EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
HP leans on Microsoft again for tablet strategy
HP during its conference call discussing a decision to keep its PC group dashed hopes of a webOS tablet revival. CEO Meg Whitman wanted HP to compete against the iPad, saying the company needed to "be in the tablet business," but put the hopes for the company's Personal Systems Group strategy back on Microsoft. The company was "certainly going to be there" when Windows 8 shipped sometime next year, she said.
The PSG group's head Todd Bradley also rejected the idea that HP would be a latecomer to truly mobile tablets. It was the "beginning stages" of a new category of personal computing, he said, and a "couple months" wasn't going to be too late. While he wouldn't divulge hardware plans, he believed that work with Microsoft so far had been "extraordinarily compelling."
Whitman acknowledged a consumerization of technology, where staff were bringing in devices like iPhones and iPads to work, and saw HP as trying to take advantage of it even while assuaging "leery" CIOs and CTOs who had to manage them. HP would make devices that were "highly desirable" to both employees and CTOs alike, she said.
A small element of hope was given to webOS supporters. The company was still "evaluating" what it would do with the team and would decide in about two months, according to HP. With no mobile device plans and tablets only returning with Windows, its position nonetheless hadn't changed.
HP has had a rocky experience with Windows tablets. Its Slate 500 running Windows 7 was once held up by Microsoft as a preemptive iPad killer and was focused all on home use but, within months, was quietly relegated to enterprise users in favor of the webOS-based TouchPad. Windows 8 will be much more oriented towards tablet use with a truly finger-optimized interface and slimmer, longer-lasting designs through the use of ARM processors. Without a release until mid-2012 or later, however, it will leave Apple several months to go without a Microsoft answer.