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Microsoft gets a big plug, but not without some vicious rumors as well

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL), the world's largest airline in terms of passenger traffic in 2012, gave Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) a big boost when it announced that it would be buying all of its pilots new Surface 2 tablets, which run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.1 RT operating system.

I. An Enterprise Win For Microsoft, Windows 8.1

A press release by Microsoft describes:

Device rollout to pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets will start later this year and all Delta cockpits are projected to be paperless by the end of 2014. 

Delta's flight operations SVP, Capt. Steve Dickson, remarks:

Delta's electronic flight bag running on Surface 2 continues the technological strides Delta has been making to give our crews the best tools to keep them flying safely and efficiently.  This intuitive device puts key information at their fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we'll reduce clutter and minimize time spent looking for flight information allowing our pilots the opportunity for greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground.

The move comes in the wake of shift in how wireless devices on aircraft are perceived.  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has found in recent studies that the weak wireless signals in narrow bands of wireless spectrum used by mobile devices were not capable of interfering with airplane electronics as previously suspected.  This has in turn allowed both pilots -- and potentially even passengers -- to use wireless devices like consumer tablets during takeoff and landing.

Delta Surface 2

In the wake of those developments most major airlines have replaced or are eyeing replacing their "old school" pen and paper flight logs with tablets loaded with custom flight logging apps.  Traditionally an airline had carried up to 45 pounds of paper for flight logs, charts, and manuals.  This massive accumulation of paper not only burned fuel by adding to the flight weight, but also led to occasional errors and time-consuming searches by pilots.

Surface 2

The switch from its current 38-pound paper flight bags to the more modern Surface 2 flight bags is expected to save Delta 1.2 million gallons of fuel annually, while also cutting the airline's paper consumption by 7.5 million sheets.

II. Pilots are Reportedly Disgruntled, Employee Accusations Mount

American Airlines (owned by AMR Corp. (OTC:AAMRQ)), the world's fourth largest commercial airline, adopted Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPads for flight-logging purposes and has been rolling out the tablets over its fleet, ever since December 2011.

The pickup of the Microsoft tablets by an even larger fleet is perhaps the biggest enterprise win for Surface yet.  Delta reportedly aims for "full deployment" by the end of 2014, which would likely mean one Surface 2 for every one of its 11,000 active pilots.

Delta is paying Microsoft around $5.5M USD for the tablets, which will retail for $449 USD on the consumer market when they launch on Oct. 22.  Reports indicate this expense should be more than worth it -- eliminating paper flight logs will save around $13M USD per year.

Surface 2

Even better for Microsoft, Delta has also been giving its 19,000 flight attendants Windows Phone by Microsoft subsidiary Nokia, which used Microsoft Dynamics to track customer in-flight purchases.  The Nokia Lumia 820 began rolling out to flight attendants in August, according to Delta.

III. Pilots Lobbied for iPad (Reportedly), Complain That Delta is "in bed with Microsoft”

The first-generation Surface has proven a major market dud, even if it did receive generally neutral-to-favorable reviews and earn some respectful nods for its slick design cues.  After taking a $900M USD charge (loss) on unsold first-generation Surface tablets, Microsoft has been dumping them off on the market at bargain-bin prices, even giving them away for free as part of its "Bing for Schools" program that's ostensibly supposed to drive search engine traffic towards Microsoft's Bing.

While Surface sales -- as a whole -- have struggled, sales of Microsoft's Windows RT have been especially bad as consumers have forsook the ARM-powered Microsoft devices due to their lack of compatibility with legacy x86 Windows software.  The new deal could provide a boost to the struggling Windows 8.1 RT platform and vindicate Microsoft's decision to cling to poor-selling ARM devices.

But given this lukewarm consumer reception, it's perhaps not surprising to see some employees speaking out against the deal.  One disgruntled Delta pilot reportedly accused Delta's administration of being "in bed with [Microsoft]", according to Apple Insider.  He said, "We fought hard for iPad."

The Apple Insider piece in a roundabout way seems to allege that Microsoft agreed to route its corporate flights through Delta as a kickback to sweeten the deal, and heavily wooed Delta's information technology department staff.

Pilots reportedly wanted an Apple iPad.

As for the specs of the Surface 2 versus its current-generation Apple competition (the fourth generation iPad), the Surface 2 looks good in most categories, except trailing slightly in screen resolution).

The Surface 2 features a lower resolution display than the current fourth generation iPad (1920x1080 vs. 2048x1536).  The devices have comparable physical storage capacity (up to 128 GB), although Microsoft's Windows recovery partition consumes several additional gigabytes cutting the usable storage space.  However, the Surface 2 features more memory (2 GB vs. 1 GB for the current iPad).  Both devices weigh approximately the same, while the Surface 2 is slightly thinner (8.9 mm vs. 9.4 mm for the iPad).  
The Surface 2 packs a faster Tegra 4 processor from NVIDIA.

Both tablets use chips that license ARM Holdings Plc's (LON:ARM) instruction set.  The Surface 2's NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) system-on-a-chip appears to enjoy a healthy lead over the Apple chip in compute-heavy applications, and a narrower lead over its competitor in graphics-bound applications.  Apple's proprietary A6X 1.4 GHz dual-core chip was blown away (499 milliseconds to finish for Tegra 4 vs. 865 ms for the iPad) by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 in early Javascript Sunspider benchmarks, a compute-heavy application, while earning a narrower win in GLBenchmark 2.5, a graphics-heavy benchmark (57 frames-per-second, versus 51 fps for the iPad 4).

Sources: Microsoft, Delta, Apple Insider

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The pilots can go f*** themselves
By amanojaku on 10/1/2013 4:39:50 PM , Rating: 5
There is no difference in functionality between an iPad, Surface, and Android tablet. These aren't devices to be taken home, these are devices for the airline. Based on price, the Surface is already cheaper, and that is most important as it reduces airline operating costs.

The only complaint people have with Surface is the lack of apps, which is unimportant, since Delta will have custom apps built. The resolutions are similar, the Surface display is larger, the weights are similar, the CPU is faster, and with more cores... There is absolutely no reason to go with the more expensive iPad.

What I don't understand is why Delta didn't go with the cheaper Nexus 10, which has better specs than both the iPad and Surface.

By Motoman on 10/1/2013 5:02:23 PM , Rating: 3
What I don't understand is why Delta didn't go with the cheaper Nexus 10, which has better specs than both the iPad and Surface.

Google probably doesn't have a dedicated field sales staff with account managers assigned to every company in a given area, which sends out sales reps who are paid only on their sales to their specified customers.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By aliasfox on 10/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By amanojaku on 10/1/2013 6:18:51 PM , Rating: 1
How is it disingenuous? Delta needs the tablets now. The Surface 2 will be available this month. So far, no iPad 5 release date has been set. So it's only natural for Delta to go with the device it can get its hands on. That's the Surface 2, iPad 4, or some Android tablet.

Surface Pro would not make sense. It's more expensive than any other tablet outside of the 4K resolution tablets. It's also much heavier, and I believe the battery life is shorter.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By aliasfox on 10/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By robertgu on 10/1/2013 7:43:01 PM , Rating: 4
Please stop spreading FUD. If MSFT gives up on Windows RT and ARM; any application Delta creates on these Surface 2 will be using the WinRT runtimes which works on x86 Windows 8.

To reiterate: These runtimes works on Windows RT, Windows 8, and the envisioned future versions of these products. No need recoding needed. If they decide to move to Surface Pro next year, they can load up the programs created for WinRT on their x86 devices without any additional work.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By aliasfox on 10/2/2013 9:32:16 AM , Rating: 1
I guess I was misinformed then - if you can directly use RT apps on Windows 8 then yes, Surface 2 is fine regardless of Windows on ARM adoption.

As a side note, if you can run RT apps on Intel, what's stopping developers from making the next version of their apps in the WinRT runtime?

By inighthawki on 10/2/2013 12:30:26 PM , Rating: 3
As a side note, if you can run RT apps on Intel, what's stopping developers from making the next version of their apps in the WinRT runtime?

I would say the limiting factor is that apps written with the Windows runtime are restricted to fullscreen store apps only, and it somewhat limits the number of API calls you can make from Win32 in order to more "sandbox" the app for security purposes. Many people do not like these restrictions since it means they cannot develop desktop apps nor distribute their work outside of the windows store.

While a storefront like the windows store or the iOS app store is a great centralized location for finding applications on your particular platform, it is very restrictive of people who do not necessarily care about that. To get it on the store, your app must be certified and digitally signed by Microsoft, which can be a time consuming process (does it cost a fee to submit apps and updates, or is this no longer the case?) Sometimes a developer just wants to throw together a quick app that people can just quickly run, which isn't as feasible in such an environment. Imagine trying to write many of the useful command line tools we have today but being forced to make them into fullscreen applications. Not all apps fit that paradigm very well.

By jRaskell on 10/2/2013 12:45:06 PM , Rating: 2
The decision on which tablet to go with was made quite a while ago. Several months at the very least, possibly as much as a year ago, after which all the details of the deal got hammered out, finally leading up to the public announcement. These large enterprise deals don't even remotely happen overnight.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By GotThumbs on 10/2/2013 12:03:12 AM , Rating: 3
Surface Pro runs REAL programs and not just "APPS", so one is not limited as you are with IProducts and IOS7.

The new Intel Haswell CPU is more efficient than those in the Surface Pro gen 1 models.

The Surface Pro II DOES make sense if you want greater options.

Battery life will be better and you can even add the new powered keyboard which adds even more battery supply.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By amanojaku on 10/2/2013 12:38:55 AM , Rating: 5
Surface 2 is $450. Surface Pro 2 is $900. I don't think Delta is interested in doubling its equipment costs. Besides, it's not like pilots need a desktop computer in the cockpit. They're replacing MANUALS. Apps are already more powerful than a stack of paper.

And what is the difference between an app and an application? If it does what you want, it's the same thing. Clearly, Delta performed a trial and determined apps can do what they want. All that's really missing is the ability to run existing x86 code, which the paper manuals can't do, either.

One of the goals is to have a light tablet. Surface Pro 2 is heavier than Surface 2 by 25%. Adding the Power Cover will bump up battery life from five hours to 10, but the cost will be extra weight and an additional $200. It's also not available until 2014. Surface 2 reaches 10 hours without a cover.

Stop assuming your needs are equal to that of Delta's.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Manch on 10/4/2013 5:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
You hit the nail on the head with your last bit "Stop assuming your needs are equal to that of Delta's."

Saving 1.2mil by eliminating the paper. 7.5 million sheets is about 75000lbs. 1 standard US sheet is 1/100th Lb. Assuming the 1.2mil savings is the weight diff between paper bag and tablet it's costing Delta is a little bit over $13.11 a lb every year. If all 11000 pilots receive a surface 2 at 1.5lbs it will cost them only $216,315.00. A Surface Pro 2 @ 2lbs will cost them 288,420.00 of fuel annually. That's a difference of $72,105.00 in fuel. Not a a lot relatively compared to the savings from eliminating paper but ~$72K plus the saving from not buying the pro add up. Delta obviously doesn't pay retail but 11000 Surface 2's at retail cost $4.9 mil. Surface Pros would double that.

Also this electronic flight bag is a work device. Delta will lock them down very much like corporations and the Gov do with work phones/laptops. One thing MS excels at is enterprise services and applications. MS can provide both the front end and the back end of a system. This is something Apple simply cannot compete with. There are enterprise applications for Apple products and some of them are very nice but they have to play with....Windows!

Lastly, these are not a standalone system. These will be integrated into Deltas IT infrastructure. Another advantage of electronic flight bag is changes can be made on the fly vs waiting for a new copy or page corrections to be inserted. Also the pilots will be able to upload what they are doing on the fly as well and you can bet your @$$ they will be using the metrics to identify problems and what not.

So yeah, you may not be able to play the latest iGame but should be pretty awesome for what they need it to do.

By chripuck on 10/2/2013 4:34:06 PM , Rating: 4
Options? It's Delta, they probably want it to do email and run the custom software they'll have written for it. Buying extra specs for the sake of extra specs is idiotic.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Micronite on 10/1/2013 7:03:32 PM , Rating: 5
That's the beauty of coding for Win8/RT. As long as you're coding in .NET, your code should be cross-compatible and it won't matter what the hardware looks like in the next 10 yrs.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By ResStellarum on 10/1/13, Rating: -1
By amanojaku on 10/1/2013 10:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
If you're looking for a platform-independent SDK, my guess is that QT Framework is at or near the top of the list. It does pretty much everything.

Desktop Platforms

Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8)
Linux/X11 (GNU, Linux, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, etc...)
Mac OS X

Embedded platforms

Embedded Linux (DirectFB, EGLFS, KMS, and Wayland)
Windows Embedded (Compact and Standard)
Real-Time Operating Systems, such as QNX, VxWorks and INTEGRITY

Mobile platforms

Windows 8 (WinRT)
BlackBerry 10

By inighthawki on 10/2/2013 1:46:52 AM , Rating: 4
That depends, are you referring to using the native API for Linux? In which case you're targeting cross-platform, but only a single architecture.

.NET allows you to target any architecture running windows, so it's somewhat of an orthogonal direction, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with developing for the most widely used platform at the time being. It's not like it's morally wrong to not develop something on closed or proprietary platforms.

If you wanted to be truly cross platform and cross architecture, you can try to target Java or some scripting languages, but then you lose many low level optimizations, so it may only make sense if your application is not real-time or performance sensitive.

Point being, there is no one single answer to everything. Writing code for free/open platforms doesn't solve every problem, and it doesn't make you any better than anyone else. In fact, I believe that just thinking so makes you a significantly worse programmer as it's showing that you don't understand these fundamental concepts.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By osalcido on 10/2/2013 1:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
That's not true.. Windows RT does not run full blown .NET. It's comparable to mobile Java framework. You have to specifically make a Metro-style app for it to run in RT

By inighthawki on 10/2/2013 12:21:17 PM , Rating: 3
I think you're confusing concepts here. Windows RT contains the full .NET package, and is not at all comparable to the mobile Java framework. The reason it is limited to metro only is because Microsoft enforces a restriction on what can run on RT for security purposes. An app cannot run unless it is signed with a digital certificate by Microsoft, which they only do on Store apps. If you jailbreak the device or find a way to sign the apps, then you can compile and run anything you want, including C++ code compiled directly for ARM.

By robertgu on 10/1/2013 7:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
In reference to choosing Surface Pro over Surface 2 cause you believe the code would have to be rewritten if ARM adoption isn't good enough. That is not an issue. Windows Store Apps are coded in WinRT which is a runtime used in BOTH Windows RT and Windows 8 and will be the runtime for all Windows products for the foreseeable future.

By Jeffk464 on 10/1/2013 7:40:51 PM , Rating: 2
If they were to go with an MS product, I really feel that this is one of few instances Surface Pro

Maybe MS gave them a really good deal to try and clear out their supply of RT tablets.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Mint on 10/1/2013 5:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
I actually suspect that apps favor MS here due to the inclusion of Office. If some airplanes need some data/addendumps quickly dumped onto the pilots' tablets for whatever reason, it's easy to put a ppt or xls file there without compatibility/display issues.

I've never been in a cockpit, but if there are a few flat surfaces, I presume that the kickstand is a nice touch as well.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Argon18 on 10/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By grant3 on 10/1/2013 10:44:33 PM , Rating: 2
"most major airlines have replaced or are eyeing replacing their "old school" pen and paper flight logs with tablets loaded with custom flight logging apps."

Maybe you should read the article before jumping right into the comments? Flight logging is very important also.

By Cheesew1z69 on 10/2/2013 7:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
When you are replying to Argon, just remember this is who you are replying too...

Are you that much of a Microsft fanboy wintard that you have to spew insults at others? Really?

Perhaps it's just best not to feed the Trolls....

By flybefree on 10/2/2013 1:02:08 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know why they would say this. We have a device built into all the aircraft called ACARS which does all the flight logging that the company needs for us automatically. They generally only need out, off, on, and in times, which are the times that the doors are closed, aircraft lifts off the ground, lands, and doors are opened, respectively. These are used to compute crew duty times and aircraft flight times.

On older aircraft, sometimes the crew has to do engine performance trend monitoring, and that is done in a binder that stays with the airframe by pen and paper, but most modern aircraft have built-in systems that record that data electronically.

By flybefree on 10/2/2013 12:48:28 PM , Rating: 4
I'm an airline pilot. The kickstand is useless. As a pilot, I would want this device to do the absolute minimum to reduce the possibility of a system crash during a critical phase of flight (I generally use it most during the approach phase). The iPads that we use sometimes overheat and shut themselves down when exposed to direct sunlight, even if the cockpit is cool. This is a serious pain in the ass when it happens. Luckily, we always have two, and try to keep one in the shade. I have backup charts on my Galaxy S4 if those fail. The Jeppesen FliteDeck app may or may not use a pdf format, but all of the approach plates, charts, and company manuals are viewable from within that app. The only thing extra that would be nice to have is a weight and balance app specific to that airplane model. However, I wouldn't like it in an excel sheet, since you can modify the computed cells if you really want to.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Argon18 on 10/1/13, Rating: -1
By amanojaku on 10/1/2013 6:28:46 PM , Rating: 3
How am I a Microsoft fanboy when I asked why Delta didn't choose an Android tablet? You're the *nix fanboy. Wouldn't Android make you happy?

Also, I never mentioned reduced fares. I said operating costs; go read a wiki if you don't know what that is. I know damn well we won't see cheaper flights. The airlines, however, will see more profit.

Third, these tablets will be used for more than PDFs. If you'd bother to read the sources, you'd know that there will be other apps running. Specifically:
With the Windows RT 8.1 operating system, pilots will be able to open two applications side-by-side, offering, for example, the opportunity to assess weather information alongside proposed flight paths. The Live Tile user interface in Windows 8.1 can feed up-to-the-minute information to crew members while the Surface 2's true high-resolution 1080p touchscreen display adds detail to maps and other resources.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By ritualm on 10/1/2013 7:03:34 PM , Rating: 5
Are you that much of a Microsft fanboy wintard that you have to spew insults at others?

Says an Apple fanboy who claims people/companies are retarded not to use iCrap.
As for your clueless reasoning, the price difference between any of these competing tablet products is so negligible, it has zero impact on airline operating costs.

Actually, it will. Apple simply does not stand a chance against Microsoft in the large business/enterprise space, all it has is great hardware - it had abandoned its B2B division long ago.
If you think you're going to get a cheaper fare

or that the airlines are going to be more profitable, because they saved $100 on a tablet, you are so clueless you shouldn't be here.

You'd be surprised at the profit margins these non-discount airlines are used to operate with.
Who told you that custom apps were needed? No custom apps are needed.

Specific details of this Microsoft-Delta contract are not disclosed, either, so how did you know Delta doesn't need any custom apps? You're as functionally insane as the other player haters in the Juice Crew.
Lastly, consider that because the iPad is the market leader by a huge margin

Irrelevant when you're dealing with large business/enterprise requirements.
Do you really think that introducing a clunky unfamiliar Microsoft tablet benefits the pilots in any way? Of course not.

There will be benefits, ofc you either won't see them or you just don't care because it's not Apple.
What an idiotic suggestion.

Everything you wrote is idiotic.

Pot, meet kettle.

By AssBall on 10/2/2013 10:11:09 AM , Rating: 2

"One disgruntled Delta pilot reportedly could not say anything because his mouth was full of Apple wang."

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By sorry dog on 10/2/2013 11:34:06 AM , Rating: 2
I would really like to hear from a real pilot's point of view on this.

Especially considering all the armchair pilots here have now spoken on what is best and whatnot.

By inighthawki on 10/2/2013 12:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I don't see how it matters what tablet is chosen as long as it does what they want it to. Maybe the surface includes a feature set that holds an advantage against competitors - perhaps the inclusion of Office. Considering we do not know exactly how these tablets will be used we cannot know. Just because the devices are meant to read PDFs and replace manuals doesn't mean by any stretch of the imagination that they cannot have other purposes.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By koenshaku on 10/2/2013 11:54:16 AM , Rating: 2
"clunky unfamiliar tablet" It is actually lighter than the iPad. If you are going to be a troll at least take the time to be a troll that reads..

By Cheesew1z69 on 10/2/2013 12:27:30 PM , Rating: 1
If you are going to troll a troll for trolling, you may want to actually respond to the post that said that....

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/1/2013 7:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
Are you that much of a Microsft fanboy wintard that you have to spew insults at others? Really?
Gee, the irony in this sentence...Pot, Kettle, yadda yadda.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Monkey's Uncle on 10/2/2013 10:06:55 AM , Rating: 1
OMG - this guys is such an iTard isn't he.

By Cheesew1z69 on 10/2/2013 10:33:02 AM , Rating: 1
With any luck, they will just ban him, he just insults everyone, in every single post, and it's getting really lame now.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By Guspaz on 10/1/2013 6:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
Well, aspect ratios are important. The Surface 2's 16:9 aspect ratio is terrible for replacing letter-size paper (if that's what they're replacing).

Here's how they stack up, in order of aspect ratio:

Letter paper: 1.294
Apple iPad: 1.333
A4 paper: 1.414
Nexus 10: 1.600
Surface 2: 1.778

The Surface 2 seems about the worst choice of those if they're replacing letter or A4 paper... the aspect ratio mismatch would certainly eliminate any advantage the larger screen size would have had.

RE: The pilots can go f*** themselves
By ChronoReverse on 10/1/2013 9:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the time, manuals have text broken up into two columns on a letter-sized sheet.

So a 16:9 ratio is perfectly suited for that.

By Guspaz on 10/2/2013 10:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
Errm, no it's not... Now you've got 2.67 aspect ratio columns on a 1.78 aspect ratio screen. That's even worse.

As others have pointed out, reflow would solve this, but PDFs don't reflow.

By jvillaro on 10/2/2013 1:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
You're right!
I really hope someone comes up with something like text reflow in this time and age!

By Jeffk464 on 10/1/2013 7:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
Delta will have custom apps built

This is the expensive way to do things, its a whole lot cheaper if you can get the whole airline industry to use the same stuff.

By FITCamaro on 10/1/2013 7:46:04 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Why do they care what kind of tablet it is? It's not for personal use. It's for work. What do they want to look "cool" by having iPads?

By inperfectdarkness on 10/2/2013 9:05:23 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed. Though to be fair, the bulk of the cost savings isn't in reduced weight or reduced fuel consumption. The time savings would be similar regardless of platform (Surface, iPad, Tab/Nexus). The largest amount of cost savings is from the reduced cost of the flight publications themselves. One figure I heard from a pilot I work with is a reduction from $350,000 annual cost for printed pubs to $150,000 annual cost for digital pubs. I believe that was a per-publication cost (i.e. one SET of pubs--which is what ONE flight-crew needs).

Beyond that, there certainly is something to be said for cost savings on lifetime costs for the tablet/device used. A $1,000 device that lasts for 5 years is still superior to a $500 device that only lasts 2. By the same token, a $200 tablet that lasts as long as a $500 one would be a better deal.

Still, the bottom line here is that regardless of what device the airline chose, even with 4 devices per flight-crew...the cost differential isn't going to amount to more than a couple grand per flight crew--a far, far cry from the ~$200,000 savings from just transitioning to digital flight pubs.

By NellyFromMA on 10/2/2013 9:59:32 AM , Rating: 2
Give him a 6. He makes ACTUAL SENSE.

By rudder on 10/2/2013 10:32:04 AM , Rating: 3
One of the reasons for the selection was that there is training software that runs on Windows.

By techguymaxc on 10/2/2013 11:05:06 AM , Rating: 3
You really couldn't be more wrong. There is a reason the pilots want iPads, and it's because of pre-existing software created by and for the aviation industry. The biggest names among aviation-specific apps are either only available on iOS, or their Android counterparts lack in features, stability, or both. There certainly aren't WinRT versions of these apps. The "custom app" solution you propose adds additional cost for the airline (gee, kind of defeats the purpose of trying to save money huh?) as well as additional training for the pilots, plus a lengthy testing period so in the mean time they would pretty much have to use the existing apps anyway!

By chripuck on 10/2/2013 4:31:19 PM , Rating: 4
And don't forget the easy integration with Active Directory and Group Policy. They already have Windows machines they are managing, adding some RT tablets to the mix is a non-event vs. iPads.

By BifurcatedBoat on 10/3/2013 1:39:20 PM , Rating: 4
If Delta's in-house developers are already working on Windows-based applications, then it's probably easier to build apps for Windows RT using familiar Windows development tools than it would be to switch to iOS or Android development.

As others have said, the tablets are being provided just for work use, so it doesn't really matter what else the tablet can do, and it wouldn't be that surprising if some of the pilots who are not familiar with software development wouldn't understand the reasoning.

Gutsy move
By L1011 on 10/1/2013 4:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
It took guts to make that move, given how commercially unsuccessful the RT's have been. I hope the headline in two years isn't "Delta to replace Surface II's with iPads".

In other news, in-flight entertainment will be provided with Microsoft's Zune!

RE: Gutsy move
By Labotomizer on 10/1/2013 5:34:47 PM , Rating: 2
It would have come down to a couple of things.

1 - Surface 2 is cheaper and has a physical keyboard that doesn't need to be charge separately.
2 - Integration with existing Microsoft environment.
3 - Less expensive to build applications for since WinRT is supposedly the easiest of the programming environments.
4 - If MS agreed to route corporate flights through Delta it offsets the cost even further for them as I'm sure MS has a rather large travel budget.

As for being gutsy? Blindly choosing what is most popular for no other reason than popularity to build your IT infrastructure is far more gutsy, and stupid, if you ask me.

Also, most Android tablets, especially the Nexus 10, are too easy to root and difficult to lock down. Plus central management.

RE: Gutsy move
By sprockkets on 10/1/2013 6:22:23 PM , Rating: 2
Also, most Android tablets, especially the Nexus 10, are too easy to root and difficult to lock down. Plus central management.

Central management can be performed by Google Apps.

Rooting a device on a lot of remote management platforms can cause a lot of red flags to be raised.

However, apple's solution is pretty good, if not the best tablet solution. Microsoft's can be good, except RT devices cannot use it!

RE: Gutsy move
By Labotomizer on 10/1/2013 8:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
Intune plugs right into SCOM and allows full management of RT. So, it does. And SCOM is better than anything that Apple or Google has to offer. So there is that.

RE: Gutsy move
By sprockkets on 10/1/2013 8:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds good but Apple's solution is also fairly comprehensive as well.

Also some posted on the Ars discussion about this that Mobile Iron also works to protect against those that root their devices.

RE: Gutsy move
By sprockkets on 10/1/2013 9:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
oh yeah, and Intune isn't free apparently. a cloud solution? NO thanks!

RE: Gutsy move
By Motoman on 10/1/2013 10:00:38 PM , Rating: 2's an airline. EVERYTHING's in the cloud.

RE: Gutsy move
By Jammrock on 10/1/2013 10:35:34 PM , Rating: 3
Surface 2 will run Windows 8.1 RT which has Workplace Join. This allows a device to live in both the personal space and the work place at the same time through a pseudo-domain join. This feature does not require InTune or any System Center application as far as I know.

Search: technet windows 8.1 rt workplace join

Workplace Join

A Windows 8 PC was either domain joined or not. If it was a member of the domain, the user could access corporate resources (if permissioned) and IT could control the PC through group policy and other mechanisms. This feature allows a middle ground between all or nothing access, allowing a user to work on the device of their choice and still have access to corporate resources With Workplace Join, IT administrators now have the ability to offer finer-grained control to corporate resources. If a user registers their device, IT can grant some access while still enforcing some governance parameters on the device.

Usual disclosure: Microsoft Employee ... lover of all technology :)

RE: Gutsy move
By opy on 10/1/2013 10:42:24 PM , Rating: 2
3 - Less expensive to build applications for since WinRT is supposedly the easiest of the programming environments.

Say this over and over again. Time from thought to deployment is crucial especially when bugs are raised.

RE: Gutsy move
By piroroadkill on 10/2/2013 10:44:07 AM , Rating: 2
Even cheap ass tablets can be managed by Meraki. I don't think you know what you mean.

RE: Gutsy move
By flybefree on 10/4/2013 12:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
The keyboard is completely useless. In the cockpit, there is nowhere to prop up the body of the tablet, and no good surface to support the keyboard to type on. Plus, there is relatively little need to type - probably on average less than 100 characters per flight.

RE: Gutsy move
By Disorganise on 10/1/2013 8:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
"In other news, in-flight entertainment will be provided with Microsoft's Zune! "

You probably meant this as a joke, but actually Qantas already use ipads for this purpose:

I guess it's cheaper to replace a tablet than to dismantle and reassemble the back of the seat

By Motoman on 10/1/2013 4:36:26 PM , Rating: 5
...they're giving these things to pilots so they can read flight manuals on them, right? Ergo, for that purpose it doesn't matter WTF the device is that they give them. Their employer is giving them a device to be used in the normal course of doing their, that's that. No basis to complain.

Pilots Lobbied for iPad (Reportedly), Complain That Delta is "in bed with Microsoft”

...or maybe the pilots are "in bed with" Apple? Or would like to be in bed with Apple? Or maybe they're just a bunch of self-righteous d-bags who think they get to dictate what device their company gives them.

In my head I imagine a room full of pilots being told they're getting Surfaces instead of iPads, at which point they all start whining and crying like 8-year-old girls who are just handed a set of Malibu Barbie dolls when what they wanted was Jersey Shore Guidette Barbie.

RE: Ummm...
By troysavary on 10/1/2013 4:47:31 PM , Rating: 3
Or maybe Apple Insider can't handle that someone would choose something other than an Apple product and fabricated a whole story of corporate shenanigans. Even if it is true that MS "bribed" Delta, who cares? It is normal for companies to trade perks like that.

RE: Ummm...
By Tony Swash on 10/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: Ummm...
By Cerin218 on 10/1/2013 6:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. I mean it's pretty normal for IT executives to wake up in the morning with random desires for hardware and software that will run multimillion dollar companies. They don't take hardware needs, software needs, existing infrastructure needs into account. They don't discuss with their staff or debate the pros and cons. They just wake up, choose something THEY want and laugh evilly as they FORCE people to deal with the choices.

You CAN make people use things they don't want. Espceially when you are an organization that can make those decisions. Our company forces me to use an iPhone as their supported corporate phone. That people actually PAY to use this piece of crap is beyond my comprehension. It's like Playskool created a phone. The saving grace is that it makes me appreciate my Windows phone SOOOO much more.

Your assessment of corporate environments is quick hilarious. There is no empowered users. You use what you are told to use. Even if that means your company uses Lotus Notes against your heavily vocal objections.

RE: Ummm...
By Tony Swash on 10/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: Ummm...
By chripuck on 10/2/2013 4:44:29 PM , Rating: 2
Oh come on, I have multiple iOS devices and if I want to be productive I pull out my Windows laptop. "Mobile OS" and "productive" don't belong in the same sentence.

RE: Ummm...
By InsGadget on 10/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: Ummm...
By Tony Swash on 10/2/2013 9:43:30 AM , Rating: 2
Keep telling yourself that PCs are dying. Sales are marginally lower, yes, but there are still going to be 318 million PCs sold in 2013. That number will stay above 300 million for years to come. Not exactly a dying market, just a saturated one.

The cliff is clear than you think

RE: Ummm...
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/2/2013 9:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
Right, because Win8 is the ONLY OS available... get a clue would you.

RE: Ummm...
By retrospooty on 10/2/2013 3:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
LOL... He says that as if Mac is gaining. It's been at 7% global for several years and hasn't increased a bit. Win8 isnt gaining fast enough, but 7 is still gaining. Mac is standing still.

RE: Ummm...
By retrospooty on 10/2/2013 3:18:45 PM , Rating: 3
Tony, call us when Apple figures out how to make a SINGLE iDevice without using PC's. Every iDevice and Mac is made in factories that run their businesses of MS PC's. Every planning, purchasing, inbound logistics, warehousing, shop floor, shipping, accounting, reverse logistics, CRM software etc etc... It all runs on PC's.

That drives you nutz doesnt it? /snick snick

No-one else is even working on an alternative. It's firmly entrenched with no change in site, not even at the end of the tunnel... :P

RE: Ummm...
By sprockkets on 10/1/2013 6:14:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm an apple hater, but if you are going to read pdfs, a 16:9 ratio screen that the Surface has would suck compared to reading on a 4:3 ipad.

And I've seen the built in pdf and epup reading app that Apple has on their ipads, and nothing I've seen compares to it. Not Moon+, not Google reader, FBreader, Mantano, HTC's reader program, you name it.

I'd still not buy an ipad, but that's why people like it.

RE: Ummm...
By Keeir on 10/2/2013 12:41:02 AM , Rating: 2
Or maybe the IPad has already been used for this purpose by other airlines and Delta pilots prefer a more market proven solution that enables them to switch easier?

Might make better sense
By Ammohunt on 10/1/2013 4:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
hard to question their reasoning. It will probably be cheaper to integrate a Microsoft product into their environment then iPads especially if they have a large Microsoft installation. The question i have is how often does the pilots refer to the 28lbs of manuals?

RE: Might make better sense
By rich_92 on 10/1/2013 4:40:51 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. How often do these guys rummage thru these "Manuals" and for what?

RE: Might make better sense
By Granseth on 10/1/2013 5:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
It's kind of bad to not have the manual when you need it!
So it's not a question of how often, but a question if there is a situation that might require a manual

RE: Might make better sense
By Ammohunt on 10/1/2013 5:25:03 PM , Rating: 1
Lord i would hope that pilots that have flew me around were trained good enough to not RTFM during flight.

RE: Might make better sense
By Schrag4 on 10/1/2013 5:46:41 PM , Rating: 3
Airliners are very complex machines. I wouldn't expect every pilot to know every procedure for every aircraft they might fly. I'm no expert, but I could see how they might reference the manual for some non-urgent emergency situation that's handled differently from one aircraft to the next, like something as simple-yet-dangerous as what procedure to follow if a landing gear isn't engaging. It might be 2 steps in one aircraft, 10 in another, and 30 in yet another.

Of course I'm no pilot, furthest thing from it, but I definitely understand them referencing the manuals, and on a frequent basis no less.

RE: Might make better sense
By Solandri on 10/2/2013 1:28:08 AM , Rating: 2
This. The manuals don't just cover regular operation of the plane. They cover nearly every possible scenario the pilots could encounter. e.g. What's the correct landing speed if some of the plane's systems (e.g. flaps) aren't functioning? The manual has those numbers pre-calculated for just about every possible configuration of the aircraft. What should you do if you don't get a landing gear locked light? The sum total of the knowledge of all the engineers who designed the landing gear, the controls for the landing gear, and the display indicators, all their knowledge went into coming up with the best procedure for diagnosing and taking proper action in exactly that case based on the specifics of how those systems were designed and operate.

And the pilots are trained to do stuff in the manual that covers regular operation of the plane. They're just required to follow the checklists in the manual because cockpit voice recorders have shown that a disproportionate number of accidents were caused by pilots forgetting or skipping a step in the checklist. Pilots are human, paper never forgets.

RE: Might make better sense
By Granseth on 10/1/2013 5:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
If there is 26lb of manuals (I'm guessing this includes other documentation as well) there is no way they have everything in memory.
And as I wrote, there is much better to have the manual than not.

RE: Might make better sense
By Argon18 on 10/1/2013 5:48:39 PM , Rating: 1
No, he's not right. Firstly, airlines don't use much Microsoft software, and certainly not on any of the onboard systems. Last flight I was on, the seat-back entertainment system was based on Linux. None of that is relevant anyhow, since these tablets are purely for viewing PDF manuals. They will not be connected to any networks or any other systems.

But to answer your question, yes, pilots refer to the manuals quite often. Remember that a pilot is not a mechanic, and there is no mechanic on board. Emergency procedures like moving fuel from one wing into the other wing are required in the event of an engine shut off, and those procedures are different from one model of plane to the next. That's just one example. Also don't forget that a pilot is not assigned solely to a single plane, they often switch around and fly different models. So yes, the manuals are used regularly by pilots.

RE: Might make better sense
By Ammohunt on 10/2/2013 10:59:08 AM , Rating: 2
They will not be connected to any networks or any other systems.

Sorry i find that hard to believe if that were the case why not buy a bunch of kindles or nooks for that purpose. Having a microsoft based tablet connecting to Microsoft services such as Exchange and locked down via global policy

RE: Might make better sense
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/2/2013 11:07:49 AM , Rating: 2
Or, Argon doesn't know what he is talking about...

Dinosaur IT Departments
By ResStellarum on 10/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: Dinosaur IT Departments
By ack on 10/1/2013 7:30:37 PM , Rating: 5
That's the typical non-IT perspective. Apple has always been terrible with enterprise support, and hence why IT shops avoid them like the plague. It just doesn't work. Period. For tens of thousands of devices, MS has the enterprise software and infrastructure to handle it. Home users don't have a clue what it's like to handle a server farm.

What ends up happening is like at the LA school district. Total disaster.

RE: Dinosaur IT Departments
By troysavary on 10/1/2013 7:44:42 PM , Rating: 4
It amazes me how little people people know what they are talking about around here. The cost of the OS is just a tiny fraction of TCO on corporate systems. Retraining staff to use Linux would cost way more than what would be saved by not buying Windows. Nevermind the cost of porting all the custom software that many companies have.

RE: Dinosaur IT Departments
By AssBall on 10/2/2013 10:21:38 AM , Rating: 1
That's just a load. I know lots of IT people that use A Macbook for their personal system.

The problem is that Integrating macs/Linux into a network for doing SECURE WORK on is about as streamlined as a brick. Are you going to sign off on your IT guys spending 3 weeks revamping mission critical applications from the ground up when they could do it in 2 days with existing, cost effective, and proven methods?

LOL... Poor pilots.
By retrospooty on 10/1/2013 4:33:15 PM , Rating: 1

RE: LOL... Poor pilots.
By Camikazi on 10/1/2013 9:11:00 PM , Rating: 2
Guessing you are one of those who thinks Windows 8 sux, Windows RT is horrible, Windows Phone 8 is the devil and the Surface can't do anything but crash yes? Well you are wrong on all counts, I have moved from Windows 7 to 8 because it is faster and just as easy to use (easier sometimes). I moved from Android to Windows Phone 8 because the performance is smoother and more responsive and I have everything I need. I am also planning on getting a Windows tablet because the Surface tablet I used impressed me much more than the Nexus 7 I tried. MS might have a lot of detractors but they do know what they are doing and are doing it right.

As for the article, for what the article said they are gonna do with it (weather reports, checking routes, checking manual and flight data) the split screen RT has makes it more useful than iPad and the price savings makes it a win for the airline.

RE: LOL... Poor pilots.
By retrospooty on 10/1/2013 10:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
"Well you are wrong on all counts"

Not really since I didn't say any of that, not one single bit of it. You just created a whole argument from thin air. I was just joking about the fact that no-one wants Surface. I am still surprised at how nice it actually is. Oddly enough, its one of the best MS products in a long time, but sales are really bad. Losing 1 billion dollars on a pretty good product = megafail.

By Khato on 10/1/2013 4:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
This will likely give Microsoft an excuse to keep RT around for that much longer when it should simply be killed off so they can focus on keeping windows relevant. The primary advantage RT offered at its conception was to lower device pricing through the use of cheaper ARM processors... but now Intel's poised to offer Baytrail for less than most all ARM SoCs. No, the only 'pricing' issue with windows devices as a whole is the windows license itself...

On an amusing side note, how many iPads do the terminals in MSP (one of Delta's hubs) used pretty much exclusively by Delta have? And those are just a straight up waste of money compared to these which will have actual work done on them and realize operational savings.

RE: Unfortunate
By Labotomizer on 10/1/2013 5:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming WinRT applications grow in popularity it doesn't cost MS much to keep an ARM variant around. NT has run on multiple architectures in the past and doesn't have a problem running on them now. It's also likely RT/WP will merge for version 9.

Microsoft all the way
By kaalus on 10/1/2013 6:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
It's much easier to create stable apps in modern C# on Surface than in ancient Objective C on iPad.

Objective C will be the death of Apple.

Devs grudgingly accepted it when Apple was the top dog and there was no other choice. Right now it's a different story.

Why condemn yourself to this piece of history from the 80s?

RE: Microsoft all the way
By Guspaz on 10/1/2013 7:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Your point is invalid: you can work in whatever language you want on the iPad, including "modern C#". Apple's own dev tools enable you to use C++ for everything but the UI layer, and there are third party dev environments for iOS that let you use almost anything else. C# can be done with Xamarin.iOS (which compiles C# to machine code).

Windows RT? Whose the DA who passed over Pro?
By GotThumbs on 10/1/2013 11:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Windows RT is a BIG mistake. Delta should go with the Surface Pro (8 Gigs or ram and 256 SSD) which puts IPADS in the same grouping of toys IMO.

There must be some mistake about the RT's and not getting the Pros.

My office has two of the PROS (first gen) and I'm going to be ordering a second gen Pro (8 gigs of ram and 256 SSD) for myself in the next month.

Come on guys, the Pro II is a no brainer IMO.

By Helbore on 10/2/2013 7:51:33 AM , Rating: 2
They're aiming to save money by reducing weight. Being that the Pro is significantly heavier than the RT, then it would be foolish to go with the Pro.

8GB of RAM and 256GB SSDs mean nothing if all you are trying to do is replace a paper manual with an electronic one. You don't need 8GB of RAM if you are only displaying text documents!

Pro is twice the price and ~50% heavier. Its a fantastic device, but that doesn't make it suitable for every scenario.

Sometimes not so efficient
By UltraWide on 10/1/2013 5:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
I had flights delayed from 30-60min on 3 separate occasions because the silly iPad froze and didn't work.

Have pity...
By Phoque on 10/1/2013 6:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
give them Playbooks!

By SAN-Man on 10/2/2013 3:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
... and the reason I say this is experience.

The iPad and Apple products in general are mostly consumer devices. They are not an enterprise class device in my opinion, and typically Apple doesn't go for that market (generally).

Microsoft's tablet isn't necessarily an enterprise class product either, but the difference here is Microsoft has 30 years experience supporting large businesses, large user bases and large install bases in the business world. Apple does not. This is just a fact of life.

Microsoft's existing support infrastructure is better equipped to handle 11,000 critical assets (deployed SNs in production) than Apple. Plain and simple and this, along with Delta's almost certain existing relationship with Microsoft and their experience with the support infrastructure is the main reason.

Most people who work OUTSIDE Fortune 200 companies or OUTSIDE a major hardware OEM don't really get to observe these relationships or infrastructures because it doesn't concern them and they don't have access to it. In fact, I find that most people who support Apple and make claims like a Mac could replace all Windows PCs in a large corporation only have experience with a handful of physical assets, all from the retail channel over their LIFETIME. This experience, honestly is not relevant to enterprise discussions.

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