Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) Q3 2012 earnings, released today, offered clues about where HP partners should be investing their time and money. The hits included 3Par (storage), HP networking, and the Autonomy Live Vault cloud storage service. The misses, hardly surprising, involved HP's PC business and commodity x86 server business. Can Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, both nearing launch, give HP partners a lift? Here's a reality check.

During a Q3 2012 earnings call today, CEO Meg Whitman said HP had a "decent"quarter but the company faces multiple headwinds and is in the early stages of a turnaround. She mentioned the following hits and misses...

The Good News...

  • "Storage, Networking, IPG and hyperscale servers delivered solid results."
  • The 3PAR storage business grew more than 60 percent in the third quarter.
  • HP Networking revenues grew 10 percent over Q3 2012.
  • HP now has roughly 700 customers running on its CloudSystem platform.
  • Live Vault, a cloud component within the Autonomy acquisition, sounds like it's doing well.

Mixed News and Bad News...

  • "On a less positive note, the mainstream server market continues to show weakness," she said.
  • HP Enterprise Services is "in a multi-year turnaround."
  • Also, "Autonomy still requires a great deal of attention, and we've been aggressively working on that business." That said, Whitman did mentionĀ  Live Vault -- an Autonomy cloud service -- is performing very well.
  • On the PC front, Whitman said the "PC market remains weak, and channel inventory is high across the industry ahead of new product releases. Our PC revenue was down 10% year-over-year, driven by this weakness and an aggressive pricing from our competitors."
HP barely mentioned Windows 8 during the earnings call, suggesting that the PC giant doesn't expect to see that much of a lift from the new operating system when it arrives in October 2012. Instead, Whitman said new hardware innovations -- particularly ultrabooks -- will help HP to compete more aggressively in the PC market.

Plus, Whitman vowed that HP would retain its No. 1 position in the PC market -- essentially taking on Lenovo without mentioning that PC rival by name.

Can Whitman pull that off and fix the list of challenges above? Hmmm...