WebOS Lives, Goes Open-Source

Brad Chacos

When HP named Meg Whitman the new CEO earlier this year, she wasted little time in firmly reversing the course set by Leo Apotheker, her predecessor, and declaring that the company would be keeping its PC business after all. WebOS, however, was a different matter. Whitman’s dragged her feet making a call about the black sheep operating system, leading to intense speculation. Will she sell WebOS? Kill it? Keep it? Turns out the answer as D) None of the above. Today, HP announced that WebOS is going open source.

HP isn’t leaving its mobile baby to the wild wolves of the Web, however; the company still plans on investing in the platform and contributing to its development, though presumably at a drastically reduced rate than before. Whether they couldn’t find a decent buyer or they simply want to try and keep WebOS alive as a mobile option – one without licensing fees, nonetheless – against Android and Apple is unknown. What is known is that soon, anyone will be able to tinker with WebOS’s guts, granting it an unexpected third life in two years after the operating system’s presumed deaths at Palm and HP.

ENYO, WebOS’s application framework, will also be open-sourced before long, the company announced. HP invites devs and users to start leaving feedback at the WebOS Developer Blog starting immediately.

“WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” Meg Whitman said in the company’s press release . “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”

Well, this came out of left field. Any thoughts? Do you think WebOS will thrive as an open-source, licensing fee-free operating system, or is just one last twitch before it dies quietly in the corner of the tech world?

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