HP to buy slim Linux OS from Phoenix

HP will buy HyperSpace and HyperCore from Phoenix

Hewlett-Packard will buy Linux-based quick-boot OS and client virtualization assets from Phoenix Technologies for US$12 million, Phoenix said on Thursday.

HP will buy HyperSpace, a watered-down version of the Linux OS that allows users to surf the Web, view digital images or check e-mail just a few seconds after switching on a PC. The OS works on netbooks, laptops and desktops. Phoenix has offered HyperSpace as an option to Microsoft's Windows OS, which could take 30 seconds or more to boot.

The transaction is expected to close this month, Phoenix said. HP will also buy the assets surrounding HyperCore, an embedded hypervisor that allows HyperSpace to run certain core services along with the Windows OS.

This acquisition should add some bulk to HP's already strong Linux assets. In late April, HP announced plans to acquire smartphone and mobile software company Palm for $1.2 billion. HP said it would add Palm's WebOS software platform to Internet-connected mobile devices such as printers and tablets. WebOS is built on top of the Linux kernel with Palm's proprietary software.

HP already offers quick-boot software called QuickWeb in its Mini netbooks and Pavilion laptops. HP declined to comment on how it plans to use Phoenix's assets.

Phoenix is well-known as a BIOS provider, and the company's focus will continue in that direction, Phoenix said.

HP wants to bring new technologies to mobile devices, and this is a low-risk and inexpensive buy, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

The emergence of tablets has raised questions about the viability of netbooks, King said. Tablets can boot up and access the Web quickly, while netbooks are comparatively sluggish, but software like HyperSpace can change that, King said. Creative use of HyperSpace could help HP add tablet-like features to PCs.

HyperSpace's initial use will be in PCs, but HP could have plans of bundling the software with WebOS for specific-use cases such as tablets, King said. An HP spokeswoman declined comment on whether HyperSpace would be part of the WebOS software stack.

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