HP denies Open webOS for existing devices

HP has disappointed and infuriated webOS device owners with the news that its official Open webOS platform – the open-source reincarnation of Palm's ill-fated OS – will not run on any existing devices. The news, confirmed by the Open webOS team, means those with a TouchPad, Pre, Pixi or other Palm/HP device won't be able to use HP's version of webOS moving forward; the company claims that's because of a lack of driver support for the specific hardware used.

"For Open webOS we are aiming for support on future hardware platforms where SoC's support Linux 3.3+ kernel and where open source replacements for proprietary components are integrated. Existing devices cannot be supported because of those many proprietary components, including graphics, networking and lack of drivers for a modern kernel (but of course, there is the Community Edition for those interested in improving the TouchPad)" Open webOS project

Having acquired Palm and its software and hardware assets, HP proceeded to run the platform into the ground and subsequently decided to make webOS open-source. The so-called Open webOS result was thrown open to the developer community and other device manufacturers alike, while a separate Community Edition - currently available for the TouchPad – was released a short while ago.

HP's excuse is that the existing phones and tablets don't support the Linux Standard Kernel and lack open-source drivers for some of the hardware components; moving forward it plans to work only with new hardware, leaving the Community Edition to handle those with earlier devices. Unsurprisingly that hasn't gone down well with the webOS community itself, which points out that HP already has access to the necessary drivers for existing devices, and yet has opted not to release them as open-source or, if it cannot, at least work on variants that could be more freely distributed.

As we've seen with Microsoft and the decision to make Windows Phone 8 not backward compatible with Windows Phone 7/7.5 handsets, sometimes companies decide it's better to cut ties with the past than bring everyone along for the ride. Still, with webOS still with minimal market share and highly dependent on the support of existing owners and developers, HP's strategy could have a significant impact on the platform's future.

[via webOS Nation]