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HP_TouchPad_sad[Update: HP has since said this is an “unfounded rumor.”]

HP decided yesterday that it would, in fact, keep its massive PC business alive, but the webOS division will reportedly not be so lucky.

A report by the Guardian says the unit will be shut down, and that and up to 500 jobs could be cut along with it.

When HP’s former CEO Leo Apotheker announced the company was considering spinning off its PC business — the largest in the world — and would kill the webOS hardware division, HP’s stock tanked and Apotheker got kicked out. New HP CEO Meg Whitman was installed, and a month later, HP says it’s keeping its PC division. But unlike that course correction, the company appears to be done with webOS and will pursue Windows 8 for tablets.

During HP’s quarterly earnings call yesterday, Whitman said, “We’ll make a decision about the long-term future of webOS within the next couple months.” However, the Guardian report says the decision has already been made to cut webOS. HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm and webOS in April 2010, and it was commonly thought HP would make a major play in smartphones and tablets with Palm as the backing. But nothing ever came out, as Apotheker wanted the company to focus on software rather than hardware.

The webOS smartphone and tablet operating system seemed to get a second wind right after HP announced plans to kill the webOS division. The company’s once-$499 TouchPad tablet running webOS dropped down to a $99 fire sale price point and consumers hungrily gobbled them up.

During yesterday’s earnings call, Whitman officially deflected on webOS but seemed enthusiastic about making tablets for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Windows 8, which is made to run on tablets, laptops and desktops alike, looks like a slick OS, and if combined with the right hardware, it could be very successful.

It would be sad to see webOS not get another chance, considering that it was a good operating system in search of powerful hardware that never showed up. But if the webOS division does get shut down completely, we hope HP releases some amazing tablets with Windows 8.

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