HP is planning to release the full open-source version of WebOS in September, while also offering a road map of key milestones along the way.
The company has just released the source code for Enyo 2.0, its WebOS development environment, which allows developers to write applications that run on both mobile devices and PC Web browsers. It will open its Enyo version 2.1 in April and version 2.2 in July.
Enyo was one of the key assets HP gained in its $US1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in July 2010, and HP Chairman Ray Lane has referred to it as "the leading web app development environment today."
HP will distribute both WebOS and Enyo under the Apache license version 2.0, which is also the predominant license for Android and OpenStack.
These are the first concrete details HP has provided since December, when it first announced its intention to release WebOS under an open-source license. But HP actually has a long history of contributing to open source projects, including significant technology that had once been proprietary.
HP shopped WebOS before choosing the open-source route, but despite numerous rumored suitors, it was unable to find a buyer. CEO Meg Whitman spent her first six weeks at the helm deliberating the best course of action for WebOS, noting on numerous occasions that any decision to keep would be part of a long term strategic initiative.
In the meantime, however, some of HP's WebOS sales and engineering talent has jumped ship for Apple, Intel and other mobile vendors.
HP last year had grand plans for WebOS, declaring that it would run not only on tablets, but also on Windows PCs, home appliances, printers and a range of other devices.
But in HP's now-infamous Aug. 18 third quarter earnings call, ex-CEO Leo Apotheker announced that the TouchPad would be discontinued, casting the future strategic importance of WebOS into doubt.