Despite promises to continue its support for the webOS operating system, HP has confirmed that it will be dropping over 500 staff from its webOS team. The company’s clear out is expected to begin this week, but HP maintains that it will “explore ways to leverage webOS software.”

HP confirmed the job cuts in a statement to AllThingsD, which reads:

“As communicated on August 18, HP will discontinue the development of webOs devices within the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, which ends Oct 31 2011. As part of this decision, the webOS GBU is undergoing a reduction in workforce. Today’s actions are part of this initiative. During this time, we stand by our commitment to our webOS customers and will work to ensure that support and service for customers are not adversely affected. HP is exploring ways to leverage webOS software.”

Though HP hasn’t actually confirmed how many staff will go, AllThingsD says that sources close to the company have revealed plans to lay off as many as 525 employees altogether.

HP’s plans to “leverage” the webOS platform — which was originally built for the company’s abandoned TouchPad tablet and smartphones — are unclear at this point, however, with over 500 staff expected to depart the webOS team, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the company will support the platform alone. It has been rumored that webOS could be licensed to a third-party, or even that it will be sold off completely. But right now, the future of webOS remains bleak.

Here’s to hoping that work on the webOS platform really does continue. Would you be sad to see webOS die?

[via SlashGear]