Microsoft has already secured a big deal for its forthcoming Surface 2 tablet after it announced US airline firm Delta has signed a contract for 11,000 units for use by its pilots.
The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices were unveiled last week as the firm continues to push its hardware offerings. To date it has proven hard for the firm to generate much interest in the hardware but the deal for the new tablets suggests it may have more to pique the interest of enterprises this time around.
The Surface 2 will come running Windows RT 8.1 from the off and will be used to provide flight crews with real-time access to data and resources on-the-go, which Captain Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president for flight operations, said would prove vital for staff.
“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,” he said.
“This intuitive device puts key information at their fingertips right when they need it. By eliminating paper, we’ll reduce clutter and minimise time spent looking for flight information allowing our pilots the opportunity for greater situational awareness in the air and on the ground.”
The device will be given to staff on Boeing 757 and 767 flights first, once it has received Federal Aviation Administration approval for use in the air. This is expected by early 2014.
Microsoft said providing the Surface 2 across Delta’s fleet will eliminate the need for paper in the cockpit, reducing the need to print around 7.5 million sheets of paper per year. It will also mean pilots will not have to carry their traditional 38-pound bags onto the plane, reducing fuel usage by 1.2 million gallons a year across the fleet.
Brian Hall, Surface general manager at Microsoft, said the deal with Delta proved the tablet could meet the varying needs of enterprises of all types.
“We set out to make Surface the most productive tablet, so we couldn’t be more excited to help Delta pilots be more productive and help the environment,” he said.
"The full HD Surface screen and 10-hour battery life will be perfect for flights where Delta pilots will get seamless real-time data and visualisation in a variety of lighting conditions. And then they can be productive off the plane with Microsoft Office and our click-in keyboard."
The deal is another win for Microsoft with Delta. The firm recently announced it would roll out 19,000 Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone 8 smartphones to the Delta's air stewards.
A video of Delta discussing the benefits its hopes the Surface 2 will bring to its operations is embedded below.
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