HP is likely to play spoil sport for Microsoft as it plans to launch three webOS-based tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show, the venue that Microsoft has chosen to showcase its Windows 7 and Windows 8- based tablets.

FoxNews reported that HP will release three versions of PalmPad that will run on webOS juice, version 2.5.1. It further reported that the fourth tablet primarily crafted for university students will not be showcased at the CES event.

One of the retail versions of PalmPad is due to sport 9.7-inch LCD screen and will weigh about 1.25 pounds. It sports both a front-facing and rear camera with 1.3 MP and 3 MP capacities respectively. The university edition tablet is due to sport a 9.7-inch tablet.

Earlier reports stated that HP's webOS based tablet is due in the first quarter of 2011. However, New York Times reported last week that Microsoft is planning to use the CES platform to unveil its line-up of tablets manufactured by Dell, Samsung and other manufacturers. The tablets are surmised to run on Windows 7 and Windows 8 OS. HP launched a Windows 7-based tablet as HP Slate 500 this year, though the tablet was bracketed as targeting enterprise customers.

If the report of HP's PalmPad comes through and the tablet becomes a significant competitor, then Microsoft stands to lose a significant partner in its tablet plans.

HP has been gearing towards launching webOS devices since its acquired Palm for $1.2 billion. It first released webOS 2.0 beta for developers in September and in October formally released webOS 2.0 with beefed up model of Palm Pre in France.