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We've just met with the folks behind HP webOS and have news that will probably enrage the heck out of all current webOS owners: HP will not release webOS 2.x to any device older than the Pre 2 via an over-the-air update. For real. There still may be maintenance or security updates, but the 2.x OS and the 3.x OS from the TouchPad will only be released OTA for the Pre 2, Pre 3, Veer, and Touchpad.

The door is not completely closed, however, as HP intends to launch a website in the coming months that offer users "a path to 2.x." What does that mean? It means that depending on carrier and device, HP may offer desktop-tethered updates via their webOS Doctor framework. It sounded as if it won't apply to all devices, however, so in some cases the "path to 2.x" will be to buy a new phone. Whether that "path" would involve discounts for existing customers is unclear.

HP says that the primary reason behind this decision is some major backend database changes that have made it increasingly difficult to offer the 2.x upgrade to current devices. We suspect that they're overhauling their entire OS OTA Update infrastructure and maintaining that along with backwards compatibility for the 1.4.x devices was just too much. At the end of the day, HP needs to focus on getting their new phones out the door.

Crazy, no? If you're looking to express your outrage or, heck, support for this decision, we've started an official "No OTA Updates" thread in our forums.

Update: after seeing that Jon Rubinstein told Engadget that the update wouldn't be offered on any older devices at all, we hit HP up for a statement. HP's statement seems to be an about-face from what we heard earlier today - saying that they could not optimize the new features they've added in webOS 2.x for the Veer and Pre 3 for older devices, so they wouldn't be offering an update. It's certainly a clearer message than what we heard before, but also a more depressing one. What are current webOS users to do? You could hold out hope that the mixed messages here mean that HP is still trying to figure out a solution for a USB/Computer-based update, but we're betting that the "path to 2.x" is much more likely to be some sort of upgrade discount. When we can get more (or even just clearer) information, we'll be sure to let you know.