HP webOS: Open Source Software Reaches 1.0, Marks New Life

By Jonathan Charles | Oct 03, 2012 10:59 AM EDT

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As webOS failed to become a competitive mobile operating system, HP acquired now defunct-developer Palm. The former recently announced that webOS would become open source, and the first release of the new software is available.

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Steve Winston, webOS Chief Architect according to HP's video (below), demoed the open source software. Running on an emulator in Ubuntu, the demo lags, but looks like webOS from mobile devices. That may be a negative for some users as the platform does not look optimized for larger screens.

The software is pitched as providing, for example, a simple internet-ready device for hotels. Sensitive information can be wiped, yet basic functionality like accessing the internet remains available. Winson demoed webOS on a HP TouchSmart computer.

"We have completed our initial roadmap and are releasing Open webOS 1.0 on schedule, as promised. Our combined efforts with the community and hard work have paid off, and we are now ready to move on to the next phase together. With this release we have affirmed our commitment to meet our goals and create a vibrant open source community," reads HP's blog.

HP added that going open source means that webOS can work on non-HP devices, like Google's Samsung-built Galaxy Nexus. Combining the functionality of webOS and the app store of Android may be the perfect combination for some users. Open source software may mean that users will develop new features for the platform.

webOS was seen as a forward-thinking mobile operating system, notably for its "Cards" multitasking interface. Apps were displayed as small cards, and could be grouped together. It presented a thumbnail of the instance; tapping on the card resumed an app. RIM seems to be expanding on the functionality in BlackBerry 10, its reboot of the BlackBerry OS, with open apps represented in thumbnails. Microsoft also offers a card-esque multitasking view in Windows Phone.

The downfall of webOS came when key personnel, like design chief Matias Duarte, moved to Google. HP said it will continue to "innovate and develop for webOS" in the coming months.

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