According to Businesweek, HP has been quietly working on two projects aimed at bypassing unpopular features in Vista and possibly competing with Apple down the line. The first involves developing software that modifies Vista to make it easier to use. That much has been confirmed. However, rumour has it that a second “Skunk Works” operation has been going on behind closed doors that has a much loftier goal—building a customised replacement OS based on the Linux platform.
HP denies funding such an operation, but Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer in HP's PC division, acknowledged that such conversations may have taken place below senior management levels. Still, he noted that such a project "makes no sense. For us it's about innovating on top of Vista."
So why do it? Well, it would obviously make HP less dependent on Windows, and if executed properly, a custom OS would make things a little easier on mainstream users. However, HP may have another motive: competition from Apple. HP fears that Apple might eventually make a budget MacBook—cutting deeply into their business. By moving to an open source operating system, they could drastically cut costs. Again, nothing has been confirmed at this point and Microsoft is working hard on updates and spending lots of money on advertising in an attempt to create a more positive impression with consumers. So, we will just have to wait and see what develops. [Businesweek via Electronista]