WebOS and HP TouchPad Find Suitors, Skype Buys GroupMe and Linux is 20: BYTE Briefs

BYTE's Daily Newsbrief for August 22, 2011.

Within hours of Hewlett-Packard's massacre of its webOS-based HP TouchPad tablet and smartphones Pre and Veer, webOS and the HP TouchPad weren't as orphaned as they seemed.

As bloggers issued weepy obituaries for the once high-flying OS, Microsoft Windows Phone exec Brandon Watson wasted no time. He quickly tweeted this:

Did they bite? You bet. Many webOS developers have told me they've been miserable since HP bought Palm's web-OS based systems and patents for 1.2B last year. At first fearful HP wasn't innovative enough to adequately support the Palm Pre or webOS, they later said the HPTouchPad wasn't an ideal platform, either.

Watson and his Windows Phone group have scored hundreds of quality developer contacts, some of whom might fit right into the Windows Phone team, confirmed Microsoft rep Pam Edstrom. "It's all true."

The truth got stranger today when another rescue group appeared in the news -- this time in the form of an Android developer team called Rootzwiki. On its site, the group announced it had begun Project Touchdroid, an effort to port Android versions 2.3 (Gingerbread) and higher to the newly abandoned tablet.

See its website for more details on how the group intends to pull this off. On the site, one developer writes:

"First (we're) going to build with Gingerbread and be (Android Open Source Project) based. After we are able to successfully boot Android, we are going to move to a (CyanogenMod 7 for Android ROM) base. Once we reach what we deem a stable beta, we will continue to provide bug fixes for (the) Gingerbread build, but also begin working on a full Honeycomb port. If (Android 4.0 or ice cream sandwich) is released before or during our development of the Honeycomb port, we will stop and begin work on ICS.

In non tablet-related news today, Skype announced it's buying GroupMe, a group-texting app for the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, RIM BlackBerry and Android. This brings private chatroom capabilities over SMS to Skype and eventually Windows Phone 7, but only after or if Microsoft's $8.5B acquisition of Skype goes through.

In all likelihood, Windows Phone 7 needs some defining characteristics. How might Groupme work with Skype and Windows Phone 7? For one thing, you might be able to launch a group instance of Skype from within a mobile or desktop MS Office doc.

Skype officials will integrate GroupMe into Skype, which would automatically get the startup more than 175 million sets of Skype user eyeballs.

Also, this coming Friday is the 20th anniversary of Linux, brought to you by then 21-year-old Linus Torvalds of Helsinki, Finland. Developed first as a terminal emulator, Torvalds announced his open platform on a Usenet group on August 25, 1991. Microsoft has long been at odds with Linux, but came around late last week with this birthday greeting for Linus and Linux on YouTube.

Happy Birthday, Linux!

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