Way back in 2013 Delta went all in with Windows, equipping tens of thousands of pilots with Surface 2 tablets and even more fight attendants in 2014 with Lumia 820 Windows phones, which they later upgraded to Lumia 1520 phablets.
It seems Microsoft’s lopsided phone-less ecosystem is no longer meeting the airline’s needs, as they are planning to move their employees en masse to Apple products.
A leaked email indicates Delta would be moving 23,000 flight attendants and 14,000 pilots to Apple iPhones and Apple iPad Pros in 2018, running much the same software as before.
The email reads:
Delta to transition to Apple devices for flight crews
Published Date 10/18/2017 5:00 PM
By Staff Writer
Beginning early 2018, Delta will equip its more than 23,000 flight attendants and 14,000 pilots with Apple iPhones and Apple iPad Pros, respectively, as the airline transitions to its next generation of flight crew devices.
The iPhone 7 Plus will replace existing Nokia Lumia 1520 phablets, which flight attendants first began using in 2014, as an in-flight point of sale and onboard customer service tool. The new iOS device will continue to feature the Guest Service Tool which allows flight attendants to provide more personalized service and recognize high-value customers on each flight. Flight attendants can also provide customers with the status of down-line flights and connecting gate information. The device also brings Delta in line with its Joint Venture partners at Aeromexico, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.
For Delta’s pilots, Apple’s iPad Pro will replace the Surface tablets that have been used in the flight deck as an electronic flight bag since 2014. With the transition, Delta will join many other airlines, including key global partners, in leveraging the iOS platform to provide a high degree of synergy and cooperation in the continued development and enhancement of aviation applications. Similar to the current device, the new iPad Pro tablets will feature Delta’s suite of tools for pilots including the Jeppesen Flight Deck Pro for flight planning, the latest version of Delta’s turbulence app — Flight Weather Viewer Plus, and a content library containing detailed aircraft and procedural manuals.
The airline continues to maintain a strong and positive partnership with Microsoft, and some of the applications used on the iPhone 7 Plus aimed at enhancing customer and employee engagement are powered by Microsoft Dynamics.
Delta will begin jointly rolling out the iPads to pilots and iPhones to flight attendants early next year.
While Microsoft has said they would continue to support Windows Phones for enterprise I suspect there will not be a worthwhile number of devices still in the market to justify much if any effort, as any IT manager worth their salt would already have planned and even executed their transition to a more vibrant platform.
The real danger to Microsoft, of course, is that by offering a foothold for Apple in enterprise Microsoft is encouraging the development of cross-platform applications (usually web-based) which would ultimately make it trivial for companies to move to Chromebooks or iPads, breaking Microsoft’s so far secure stranglehold on business, as has already happened in education.
As Delta has shown, living in the cloud ultimately means there is no need for Windows.