updated 06:15 pm EDT, Thu July 22, 2010
HP vows Win 7 slate soon while addressing Palm
HP at the Fortune Tech conference said its Windows 7-based Slate 500 should arrive in the fall. Executive VP Todd Bradley didn't have details but downplayed rumors that it was dropping the project and said it would focus more on enterprise than the general public. Rumors have put the tablet as late as October, or nearly 10 months after it was first shown at CES.
Jon Rubinstein, former Palm CEO and now head of HP's mobile team, emphasized that webOS tablets like the PalmPad were coming as well but didn't have a similar timeframe to that of Bradley. He did promise that the more touch-friendly OS would be on not just smartphones and tablets but also "webbooks," often referred to as smartbooks. Adobe and HP were also still "testing" Flash 10.1 for webOS, but Rubinstein was emphatic that webOS would have the plugin. The update to webOS 2.0 should arrive before the end of the year as well.
Bradley addressed the seeming "betrayal" of Microsoft by using webOS over a Windows variant but, like Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer, was adamant the two would stay friendly. Both companies are comfortable with having to compete in certain areas and don't see it as a change in commitment, he argued.
Likewise, he was quick to address concerns of too many mobile operating systems. To him, the number of operating systems was dictated by the market and that it was more important to execute well with whichever platforms are in use than to consolidate.
The joint speeches appear to offset concerns that Microsoft may have lost its best tablet customer as companies retool their designs to better compete against the currently market leading iPad. Losing HP would have been considered potentially fatal, but ASUS may have already set Microsoft back by dropping Windows Embedded Compact for Android on one of its key Eee Pad versions.