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Just as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) unveils an early look at Windows 8, its next-generation operating system, it faces the prospect of renewed competition from another operating system: Hewlett-Packard’s webOS, which the manufacturer apparently intends to port onto devices other than its own.

"I happen to believe that webOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system," HP CEO Leo Apotheker told an audience at AllThingsD’s D9 conference in San Francisco, according to a June 2 Reuters report. "It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices."

HP inherited webOS when it purchased Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010. While Palm has limited use of the operating system to smartphones, HP’s intentions are much more broad-based, extending to tablets, laptops and desktops. Previous reports indicated that HP will run webOS alongside Windows in a dual-boot configuration.

HP’s move stands to reap substantial benefits for the company, according to some analysts. "webOS is HP’s Trojan horse to marry cloud, mobile and social," Ray Wang, principal analyst of Constellation Research, wrote in an email to eWEEK after HP first announced its plans. "It’s a smart move in leveraging an underused asset."

The first PCs dual-loaded with webOS will apparently begin shipping in 2012. This summer, the manufacturer plans to release its TouchPad tablet, featuring a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and integration with webOS smartphones.

"webOS will be adopted by many partners who provide services to small and medium businesses," Apotheker reportedly said at the conference.

For more, read the eWeek article: Microsoft’s Windows 8 Could Have HP WebOS Competitor.