Why the Windows Store Could be the Future of WebOS


While some attention is given to Windows 8’s locked bootloader,  somewhat less is paid to the Windows Store, the  coming exclusive channel for Metro apps. Other types of apps will still run on Windows 8 without Microsoft’s approval, so it does not quite have the Apple level of control over the apps that run on iOS.  But Metro style apps will get reviewed and approved before appearing in the store.

What’s that got to do with WebOS? Well, remember last month when HP executives told us that WebOS is more of a platform than an operating system? Well, that actually sounds a lot like how Microsoft is positioning Metro. Could it be that HP is planning a WebOS app store for Enyo apps?

HP has talked a lot about the possibility of runnning WebOS on top of Windows for a long time now, and many people have questioned the value of doing so. Others, such as Bob Warfield, have suggested that HP could add some real value to Windows by providing features, such as those that would allow an application’s state to follow you from device to device (for example, a text messaging application that showed you your messages on both your desktop and your phone). But Warfield also lamented that those features could be easily copied by Microsoft. What can HP do to differentiate itself?

Microsoft’s positioning of the Windows Store suggests that Microsoft believes there’s a market for apps built on a particular platform and sold through an exclusive channel. In fact, I’m guessing that Microsoft expects this to be the main way that its users to acquire software on Windows 8. And if Microsoft can sell through a channel like this, why can’t HP? HP has huge desktop and laptop market share and could bundle its own apps store on its PCs instead of or in addition to Microsoft’s store.

The big question is whether developers will be motivated to develop apps for the store. I give it a definite maybe. Because Enyo is JavaScript based, it should be relatively easy to port Metro apps to Enyo. But the real killer feature could be true cross-platform portability. As of now the Enyo licensing restricts its use to WebOS applications only. But if this changes when the platform is ported, it could be used to create apps that could run on iOS, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone. If HP could offer developers the ability to build apps that they can sell through a market on every single HP computer sold, plus be submitted to the Android Market and Apple App Store with few modifications, it could have a winner on its hands. And if HP could add functionality to Enyo that would enable its apps to transfer state from one device to another, there could be a real benefit to users as well.