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Report: HP Getting Back in the Tablet Game with Windows 8

May 12, 2012

HP corporate

Hewlett-Packard has apparently licked its wounds from last year's TouchPad debacle and is gearing up to enter the consumer tablet market once again, the Bangkok Post reported Friday.

The computer maker wants back in on "extraordinary growth in tablet sales," HP chief executive Meg Whitman told the audience at the Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai, China, the Thai newspaper reported. But HP won't be using webOS to run its next tablet—in December, the company decided to open-source the mobile operating system it received when it acquired Palm for $1.2 billion.

Citing poor initial sales, HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad, its first and only consumer tablet running webOS, just weeks after releasing it last July. That embarrassing exit from an exciting new market culminated in fire sales of the TouchPad that briefly made HP the No. 2 consumer tablet maker in the world behind Apple, as well as the purging of webOS staffers at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company.

Instead of webOS, HP is turning to Windows 8, Microsoft's next-generation operating system that's optimized for both PCs and tablets. Windows 8 is expected to be released later this year.

Those proposed Windows 8 tablets will lean heavily on the cloud for storage and content sharing between devices, the Post quoted HP executive Todd Bradley as saying. Bradley, who heads HP's recently merged printing and personal systems business unit, also said the company is heavily focused on Ultrabooks this year and is looking to build a new $100 million printer factory somewhere in Asia.

This isn't the first time that HP has indicated it's more than ready to start producing tablets for consumers again (the computer maker already sells its Windows 7-based HP Slate 500s into the enterprise market and verticals like the hospitality and medical industries).

Last October, an HP spokesperson all but confirmed to PCMag that the computer maker would be building a Windows 8 tablet aimed at consumers in 2012.

"We've definitely said we'll continue in the tablet market, though we have discontinued hardware with webOS," HP's Marlene Somsak said at the time.

Meanwhile, before the TouchPad was even released, HP was reportedly working closely with Microsoft on a Windows 8 tablet. In the first few months after HP's consumer tablet crashed and burned, however, it wasn't at all clear whether the company wanted to be in the tablet market anymore—or even wanted to make consumer-oriented PCs and devices at all going forward.



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