Sometime during my B.Tech I came to know about HP being one of the oldest computer companies thanks to the film Pirates of the Silicon Valley. If you see that movie you realize HP too did some mistakes like IBM in its history for e.g not even considering the concept of a personal computer when their employee steve Wozniak presented the prototype to them.
For so many years this company has been doing quite well, but perhaps with no focus, they seemed to have done a good thing by remaining the leader in Printing market as that now looks to be their main source of Income, They became a PC vendor of late, and as usual they wanted to earn some quick money so they rode on M$ windows for long time, becoming quite responsible for giving the Giant is current lead in the market. They did spend some money on making their own Unix (HPUX) but were not intelligent enough to promote it. Their research labs never looked very active as we never heard of any great project being successfully accomplished. Even then it should be interesting to note what has changed so drastically in past 1 month or so that HP is now giving its ads in paper everyday.
To me this everyday ads looks a very signing of finishing their current stock when it can sell. If you see the PC of HP Desktop machine it has come down suddenly from something like 40000 Rs to something like 23000 Rs. Whats' the reason? Anyone who keeps a watch on such ads can easily make out that they have changed their default OS from Windows to FreeDos. The statement HP recommendes Windows XP for bussiness/home is now gone. I have been told by my friend that the reason behind this is M$ showing finger to HP and making alliance with Dell.
As I often use to say whoever partners with M$ finally ends up being at loss. Had HP thought of their future sometime ago and acted they could have probably been in better position now, but thats not it, What happened to HP will probably happen to some other companies too, think of the scenerio when M$ starts selling a fully packaged Desktop system(they might make some ammendments in their name for that may be), like Apple does now. We have already seen them getting in to hardware like Mouse and Keyboard, next day they could simply accquire some Monitor company like Viewsonic or get in patnership and they are in position to ship complete Box(with Intel/AMD chip inside probably). Why will someone then buy a PC from any hardware vendor including Dell ? M$ can easily claim that Windows runs best on their hardware and they provide very good support etc.
You ask me why they haven't done something like this so far, well I can only Imagine that this delay was caused by the entry of Linux, They must have been looking for first eradicating the complete Linux market and then making such a move. They seem to have been trying a lot in this direction and till now they are not successful but you never know the future. Until the hardware vendors open their eyes to the great threat the possibility of such a move by M$ in hardware always remains.
But things are not all that bad, Apple have recently taken a great decision to enhance their entry to desktop market. With MACintel being available from Jan 2006, Desktop market is going to see some good competition for Windows again.