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CyanogenMod team puts Android on the TouchPad

Efforts to install Google's Android operating system on the cut-price HP TouchPad tablet have reached a new milestone: the first successful boot of the popular CyanogenMod 7 firmware on the device.

The HP TouchPad, by default, runs HP's webOS operating system, but the company's decision to end its webOS hardware efforts to concentrate on enterprise software has left many wondering about the future of the platform.

While the TouchPad is a totally capable tablet now - as a review of the device on our sister site IT Reviews demonstrates - a move to Google's better-supported Android platform would offer a degree of future-proofing for the device, and turn it into by far the world's best-value Android tablet.

Installing a new operating system on a tablet isn't as easy as making the move from Windows to Linux on the desktop, sadly. Unlike PCs, which are built on an open architecture that can be traced back to IBM's original Personal Computer, tablets have very proprietary internals. The processor might use the ARM architecture, but the way you communicate with the touch screen, communications hardware, and even the graphics chip can vary massively from device to device.

That's the work that faces the CyanogenMod team now: although a video released recently demonstrates the Android port booting on a TouchPad, that's merely the first in a long line of modifications that will be requried to turn it from a webOS device into an Android tablet. Indications this morning that the team has cracked the issue of 3D hardware acceleration are promising, but there's still work to be done.

Those who braved the queues and troubled websites to snag their own piece of the remaining UK TouchPad stock will be cheered by the news of the Android port, but we would advise holding off any attempted installation until the CyanogenMod team has a more polished version ready.

If you need to see it to believe it, here's the video in question.