After a period of deliberation, HP has finally come to a decision about what to do with its seemingly ill-fated webOS: it’s going open source, meaning any hardware developer that would like to take a crack at using the OS on its devices is free to do so.
That’s not to say that HP is abandoning any of its own hardware efforts with regards to webOS. In an interview with The Verge earlier today, HP CEO Meg Whitman confirmed that the company will continue to make new webOS hardware, specifically tablets. Whether or not that will take place in 2012, said Whitman, she could not say. But the company did welcome others to do the same, stating in a press release that today’s move to open source creates “an opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.”
And though the operating system will now become open source, HP will still have a hand in its development. In HP’s press release, the company stated that its goal is to accelerate development and that it will be an “active participant and investor in the project.” The press release makes no mention of what parts of webOS won’t be contributed to open source, nor does it provide a specific release timeframe of when webOS will actually go open source. But it did mention that the Enyo app framework that supports webOS 3 and the TouchPad will be the first part to be contributed, and it’s coming in “the near future” in conjunction with “the remaining components of the user space.”
Patents related to webOS, however, will remain under HP’s control in an effort to “protect developers,” according to PreCentral. This would seem to be a move in an attempt to avoid the patent lawsuits that Google has faced with its open source OS, Android.
As for those who currently possess webOS devices like the TouchPad, HP has some good news for you. In an FAQ section that the company posted about webOS going open source, HP maintains that current webOS users will “continue to receive software improvements and updates in the future.”