Following its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 that took place last week, Microsoft officially announced its first large enterprise deployments through Delta Air Lines today. As Delta comes aboard the Windows RT bandwagon through the purchase of 11,000 Surface 2 tablets, the company not only aims to lower its fuel and associated costs, but is also looking to enhance efficiency among its workforce. As per the announcement, Microsoft Surface 2 tablets, will initially be used as electronic flight bags (by leveraging Jeppesen’s FliteDeck Pro app that is targeted for the Windows platform) and will enable the airline to eliminate paper-based flight kits that happen to be heavy in nature. The rollout will start with pilots that are flying Boeing 757 and 767 fleets and will make its way into all Delta cockpits by the end of 2014.
This deployment is also significant since it is a natural follow-up to Delta’s commitment to the Windows platform. Back in August 2013, the company announced a 19,000 Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone deployment for its flight attendants. These devices are primarily utilized for Dynamics for Retail technology on onboard customer purchases. In-flight purchases that are enabled by these devices not only include food and beverages but also include paying for seat upgrades and receiving e-mailed receipts as a result of these transactions. The company also announced that a near-term update would include processing digital coupons on customers’ mobile devices. This deployment (including the custom mobile POS solution) was developed by Avanade, Microsoft and AT&T and will operate over both Wi-Fi as well as AT&T’s 4G LTE Network. Delta’s and other airlines’ efforts for enterprise mobility solution deployments also comes in timely since FAA is looking to expedite the approval of electronic devices during takeoffs and landings soon.
While we have all heard of pretty large deployments with iOS and Android-based solutions, (or about smaller deployments based on Windows Phone 8 or Microsoft Surface), this is the first sizeable deployment for Microsoft’s mobile business. Given the fact that the second generation Surface devices were just introduced last week, such large commitments from a large corporation like Delta could get the company start things off on the right foot. Despite the confusion that Surface RT created with its inability to run Windows 7 software last year when it first came out, Surface 2 which is also running on ARM processor can be Microsoft’s special-purpose device targeted for the enterprises that are looking for lower-priced solutions and could use the long battery life. This second-generation Surface RT solution that has a lower price tag could also be a somewhat more expensive alternative to lower-end Android-based solutions for organizations that do not want to let go of the Windows platform.