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Hewlett-Packard isn’t exactly shying down from a fight.

In a March 14 press conference, freshly minted CEO Leo Apotheker has made it clear he intends to take the manufacturer in some new and radical directions, ones that will bring his company in direct and aggressive competition with not only its longtime rivals, but also a few partners.

Microsoft and the webOS Question

In mid-2010, HP completed its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm, whose new breed of smartphones—including its flagship Palm Pre—had attracted some critical praise but comparatively little consumer and developer interest. As part of that deal, HP now had control of Palm’s webOS mobile-operating system.

Almost immediately, analysts and pundits began speculating that HP would port webOS onto both smartphones and tablets. In a Feb. 9 announcement, however, the company suggested it would take the platform one step further, installing it on laptops and desktops in addition to mobile devices.

“The webOS is an unbelievably attractive piece of technology in that it can interconnect seamlessly a number of various devices,” Apotheker said in response to eWEEK’s question at the March 14 press conference. “It is simply an outstanding Web operating system.”

HP eventually hopes to sell 100 million webOS-enabled devices per year. “You will see us put our webOS on our Windows PCs,” Apotheker added. “We see this as a massive, very global platform.”

But Microsoft could take a dim view of another operating system trying to carve out some market share. Windows currently occupies some 89.95 percent of the operating-system market, according to analytics firm Net Applications, and Windows 7 continues to generate substantial amounts of revenue for the company.

For more, read the eWEEK article: HP Cloud, webOS Plans Face Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle Challenge.