When Hewlett-Packard purchased Palm in order to secure the rights for the WebOS operating system, it seemed to gum up the works a bit, since HP was already committed to build and sell a Windows-powered tablet. Still, since HP clearly has no interest in the cell phone market, it must have made the Palm purchase with a WebOS tablet in mind. Of course, there is no reason that this should be an either/or situation, and as it transpires HP will be building one tablet for each of these operating systems.
Perhaps because its commitment to Windows and Microsoft was in place before the Palm purchase, giving them more lead time with that operating system, HP says that their Windows tablet (or “slate” as they insist on calling it) will be out the door and into the marketplace first. Phil McKinney, HP’s vice president and CTO for the personal systems group, says “There is a Windows 7 slate that is coming out, that will begin shipping by the end of the year,” he said. “What we found with that slate is that it’s the item that the enterprise users want. We have a number of customers in retail and health care that have specific Windows 7 applications, yet they want that portability.”
According to McKinney and a CNET article, the company’s WebOS tablet will be introduced a bit later, “early 2011” to be imprecise. Presumably, HP was already working on a Windows slate to compete with the iPad when they bought WebOS, and they already had a lot of Windows experience, so that one is coming out first. It will naturally take them longer to get up to speed with a new operating system. Still, with so many iPads already sold, it looks like HP is going to be a bit late to the tablet/slate party.