Well, that didn’t take long: Just days after its acquisition of Palm, Hewlett-Packard (news, site) is reportedly set to drop the HP Slate, a handheld device that runs on Windows 7.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previewed a prototype of the HP Slate, running Windows 7, at CES 2010 in January. The handheld was scheduled to debut later this year. However, according to TechCrunch, citing a source “briefed on the matter,” HP has been unhappy with Windows 7 as a tablet OS and has decided to kill the project.

HP execs already have said the company plans to push more forcefully into the mobile hardware business with smartphones and slates. Following its acquisition of Palm, HP execs say they are counting on WebOS to be the foundation for that strategy.

WebOS or Android?

It’s clear that HP plans to market some kind of tablet computer. The question now is whether it will be running WebOS or Android.

Only a few days ago, HP posted an Android-powered netbook called the Compaq Air Life 100 on its site, yet the device isn’t for sale -- yet -- in the US. The netbook's specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 512MB RAM, 512MB Flash memory, 16GB Solid State Drive and 10.1″ touch screen.

Overseas, Telefonica will start selling the netbook at Movistar stores across Spain for EUR 230, or roughly USD $310 in mid-May.

The likely scenario is that HP will purse the business market, where it is solidly entrenched, with WebOS tablets and the consumer market with Compaq branded devices running Android.

HP's Mobile Enterprise Strategy

One benefit of a WebOS tablet in the business market is that it is good at multitasking, says Tim Sheedy, an analyst at Forrester Group. “While this may not significantly differentiate the product in the consumer space, it is a key capability for organizations looking to add mobility to business processes.”

As has been reported here, the Apple iPad has been a big hit with consumers, but so far does not seem to be getting traction on the business side. One of the main reasons is that the iPad lacks multitasking capability.

One Size Fits All

Enterprise customers are also looking for a one-stop-shop, capable of providing a single source of control over every product life cycle, whether that’s a mobile device in employees’ pockets or hardware in the corporate data center, Sheedy says.

“There is already significant interest around the iPad as a device that could either find its way into the enterprise, or one that changes the way businesses offer their services to consumers -- so the entry of the WebOS into this space gives companies another development platform -- perhaps one that is easier to control from an enterprise perspective,” Sheedy adds.