HP rumoured to be testing Windows 8 on TouchPads

Hewlett Packard's popular TouchPad tablet might not have a future as a webOS device, but rumours suggest that it could live on - as a Windows 8 tablet.

The 10in touchscreen tablet made headlines when HP announced the closure of its webOS hardware division, part of its Palm acquisition, in order to better concentrate on enterprise software.

That news came as a blow to webOS enthusiasts and long-time Palm supporters, but came with a happy note attached: discounts on the remaining stock of TouchPad tablets that saw the device drop to just £89.

In its discounted form, the TouchPad proved popular. Stock flew off shelves, websites were rendered unusable through traffic, and those who managed to bag a tablet or two found themselves celebrating the bargain of the year.

The devices became even more sought after when the CyanogenMod team released a fully-working version of Google's Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' software, allowing those who don't value warranties to turn their TouchPads into dual-boot webOS/Android tablets capable of being overclocked to an impressive 1.7GHz. You'll find a full walkthrough on installing the Android OS on your TouchPad here at our sister site, ITReviews.com.

Despite the devices' popularity among bargain hunters, there has never been any indication from HP that it is planning to resurrect the TouchPad line. This week, however, a rumour began that HP is testing Windows 8 - Microsoft's touch-centric next-generation operating system, and the first mainstream Windows release to include ARM support - on its remaining TouchPads.

It's a rumour which, on the surface, makes sense: the TouchPad uses a Qualcomm processor, and Qualcomm is known to be working with Microsoft on the creation of Windows 8 devices based around their ARM processors.

With HP still considering an exit from the consumer-grade hardware business, however, it seems somewhat unlikely - and that goes double when you take into account the credibility of the rumour's original source: Fox News.

The rumours do raise an interesting possibility, though: the chance that hackers could create a triple-boot system with webOS, Android and Windows 8 on the existing TouchPad hardware - making the £89 gadget the most flexible device in the history of economy tablets.