Hewlett Packard has announced that it will contribute the WebOS operating system to the open source community rather than kill off the software.

The long-awaited announcement on the future of WebOS comes as somewhat of a surprise, with many observers expecting HP to would simply shut down or attempt to sell it.

However, the company said is passing the responsibility to developers and hardware manufacturers to continue the legacy and improve the software with new versions and applications.

This means that, just like Android, any manufacturer that wishes to use WebOS can build gadgets using the software without paying for a license.

Unleashing the creativity

HP CEO Meg Whitman said: "WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable.

"By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."

In a statement released to the media, HP says it will continue to be an active partner in the development of the WebOS platform.

The company also says it will provide "good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation," which means that, unlike Android, it doesn't want lots of versions floating around on multiple devices.

Stay of execution

The announcement represents yet another stay of execution for the Palm-built operating system, which HP acquired for a whopping $1.2 billion in April 2010.

This summer the company announced that it would be ceasing all WebOS operations following the abject failure of the HP TouchPad and HP Pre 3 smartphone to gain traction in the marketplace.

HP currently employs 600 people in its WebOS division and their fate remains to be seen. For now though, WebOS lives to fight another day.

Via: Engadget