updated 10:05 pm EDT, Thu June 17, 2010
HP hints Windows slate obsolete
HP at the Untethered conference today gave reason to believe it's reconsidering its release of the Windows 7 slate. The company's Personal Systems Group CTO Phil McKinney said that using an existing OS for a new design like a tablet is frequently negative but simultaneously talked up the virtues of webOS. Despite the Windows slate being the primary focus of the company's tablet efforts, no mention was made during the presentation.
Suspicion was raised further when Technologizer asked specifically about the Windows 7 slate and was told the company wouldn't talk about it at all until after HP's acquisition of Palm was completed. The view stood in stark contrast to HP's dialog in recent months, when it repeatedly teased the slate and was willing to talk about numerous features.
The statements don't automatically confirm rumors but support the increasing belief that HP is axing the Windows slate in favor of a webOS model. Opposing rumors have questioned this, but there has simultaneously been murmurs of a tablet nicknamed Hurricane that would carry Palm's software as soon as the summer. As a webOS tablet would have to switch from Intel's Atom to an ARM processor, it would likely gain hours of extra battery life, carry lower performance and storage requirements, and have faster graphics for gaming or video, all the while costing less.
An end to the slate would be a symbolic defeat for Microsoft. Company CEO Steve Ballmer hailed the HP slate at his CES keynote as proof Windows 7 would win in tablets, but a premature end would validate beliefs from Apple, Google and now HP that the category needs a mobile-oriented OS, whether iOS, Android or webOS. One of ASUS' future tablets, the Eee Pad EP101TC, will use ARM and Windows Embedded Compact 7 as a hedge against Microsoft's bets on its desktop OS as a foundation for tablets.