During the ISTE conference, HP also claimed that it was putting webOS on all of the devices it made going forward, including laptops and PCs—so that any app developed for webOS would work on any kind of device, the company explained. However, HP’s Aug. 18 announcement represents a sharp U-turn in strategy.

An HP spokeswoman said the company will continue to focus on PC products for the education market, at least for the time being. She did not answer questions about how many TouchPad tablets had been sold to schools, or whether webOS devices that schools currently own would be supported, before press time.

HP also announced that it is in talks to buy Autonomy Corp., a maker of business software. Earlier, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News had reported that HP planned to buy Autonomy for $10 billion, which would rank the deal among HP’s largest.

The decision to buy Autonomy also marks a change of course for HP, one that makes HP’s trajectory look remarkably similar to rival IBM’s nearly a decade ago. IBM, a key player in building the PC market in the 1980s, sold its PC business in 2004 to focus on software and services, which aren’t as labor- or component-intensive as building computer hardware.

HP shares fell $1.36, or 4.4 percent, to $30.01 in afternoon trading.