back to article Microsoft Surface 2 fondleslabs finally get off ground with airline order

How many of Microsoft's ARM-powered Surface 2 fondleslabs has it sold so far during the presale period leading up to the tablet's October 22 launch? At least 11,000, as it turns out, because that's how many were snapped up by US passenger carrier Delta Air Lines. "Delta is rolling out these new tablets to replace the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "How many of Microsoft's ARM-powered Surface 2 fondleslabs has it sold so far..."

    If "sold" means "I'll pay you to use these tablets", then 11,000.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd rather have a paper flight plan, note book and pencil, paper charts, and an updated Pooleys rather than a Surface on my lap. Nothing to break and nothing that will run out.

      Yes I'm a Luddite.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Maybe, but if you're a big ariline and have to pay for paper updates every AIRAC cycle (28-56) days, the savings using an EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) are huge.

        1. Charles Manning

          Not to mention....

          All the ease of carrying a tablet vs fat wadges of dead wood.

          As a breed, pilots are getting older and back strain carrying flight bags is a major deal.

          Some airlines already use iPads, but MS devices make more sense. Nobody will steal them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How do you feel about fly by wire? That said, a real Luddite wouldn't get in a plane in the first place. (technically shunning technology isn't being a Luddite per se, the Luddites were more about protecting their skilled jobs from automation.)

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          I'm not a luddite, however I would note that all of my Disaster Recovery/BCM plans are printed out and stored in paper folders. I suspect other IT professionals do the same on the basis that in a disaster you simply can't count on your documentation being retrievable from computers.

          While it might save a lot of money on reissuing paper documents, I can't help but feel that certain things are best stored as a reassuring lump of paper irrespective of cost because paper is pretty failure resistant to a user leaving it turned on and running the batteries flat.

  2. HMB

    Temptation Vs Apathy (Side order of spectacle)

    For Delta it all seems like a good deal, but for Microsoft?

    I've already got an HP Touchpad that runs Android that I barely use. Though it would be tempting to use Windows 8 in an environment (touchscreen) that it was actually designed to work in. Ahhh who am I kidding, I wont use it, it's hardly like I can run the iPlayer radio app on it.

    Maybe what I need is the Surface X Pro (where X is whatever number). It's got some exciting specs and the idea of being able to run all that PC software on it is quite tantalising. I'll just wait a bit longer for one with a decent sized screen and perhaps an integrated keyboard. If only I could get my hands on one of those now. Though with those added extras it certainly would have to be more expensive than a Surface X Pro.

    1. Michael Hutchinson

      Re: Temptation Vs Apathy (Side order of spectacle)

      "I'll just wait a bit longer for one with a decent sized screen and perhaps an integrated keyboard. If only I could get my hands on one of those now."

      You just essentially described a touchscreen "ultrabook".

  3. Tom 35

    Pro ads

    "TV ads featured young people dancing around, snapping and unsnapping their tablets from their colorful keyboard covers."

    The Pro ad was the same, just set in a boardroom.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pity the pilots didn't get a say

    The author didn't mention that pilot apparently are not happy with this deal. Read here

    1. returnmyjedi

      One division in my company were given ipads so that they could track sales meetings etc whilst out and about. Due to the very shoddy software provided it kept locating them in Colorado and China, when there were actually in Colchester and Chester (or so they say).

      So after a year the ipads were taken away and replaced with Android tabs that have worked beautifully. But the removal of the fruity ones fondleslabs was accompanied by much moaning and bleeting, not because they thought the iPad was a better bit of kit, they just happened to have installed all of their iPhone tat on there also.

      So I very much doubt that the good folks at Delta think the iPad to be the finest tablet out there. It's just that they don't want to lose their progress on Angry Birds.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say

      Yes, how could they show off with the flight attendants otherwise? "Would you come to my hotel room to play wth my iPad" is more alluring then "play with my Surface"....

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say

        I often ask the laydees if they'd like to come back to my office and stroke my android.

        I'm sure this is unrelated, but I seem to be getting a lot of letters from HR talking about sexual harassment lately, too.

        Oh well. It's almost as bad as that time I was using Thinkpads and offering to train the lads on how to use it, by showing them how I touched my tracknub. All I did was ask if they wanted to see me play with my blue nipple....

        1. theblackhand

          Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say - Steven Raith

          Lots of letters from HR? I'm sure they're just trying to raise awareness....

          1. Steven Raith
            Thumb Up

            Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say - Steven Raith

            They can raise my awareness any time.

            *letterbox flaps*

            *reads sender address*


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say

      You really believe what appleinsider says, wow, you must have been born yesterday.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pity the pilots didn't get a say

      Mr iTard, the Delta pilot said glowingly about their choice of Surface "We need an inflight solution, not just a document reader". You clearly know nothing about the airline business, the Surface is significantly better at integrating into their workflows than the iPad.

  5. Darling Petunia

    I work in an avionics business and am aware of the popular use by pilots and crew of the Ipad without any promotions from Apple. Commercial and civli aviation pilots have been using the ipads for backup navigation, weather, ADSB, aircraft checklists, manuals etc.

    The Delta deal to use the MS Surface devices should be interesting.

    This story sounds like an MS PR move, and I wonder how many Delta crew members are going to give up their Ipads.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      If Delta requires flight staff to use M$, then they will use M$. They may also bring along their own iPads in addition. Since the iPad was the first device to gain approvals, developers have come up with some excellent apps for the market and the iPad has a healthy head start.

      I haven't seen the ADSB implementation. I'll have to check that out this week.

      I'm going to guess that Delta is getting a kickback in some form from M$.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Backup navigation and ADS-B? On an iPad? How could it send and receive ADS-B data?

      1. Ralph B

        ADS-B iPad app

        I have no idea what ADS-B is, but even I know how I can do this.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: ADS-B iPad app

          As I guessed, that's just a receiver. It can't transmit data. ADS-B it's a technology for receiving other planes position and transmitting its own. It's a bit useless otherwise, because you can see other aircrafts as long as they transmit their data also (sure radar data are also fed into the system, but ADS-B is a "cooperative" system).

          Not sure either if a receiver mounted with a suction cup and an iPad mounted somehow are better than a built in ADS-B MFD. After all that receiver receives, processes and relies data over Wi-Fi - it could be adapted to any other device. Anyway this a cheaper albeit limited solution for sure, given the prices of aviation hardware.

    3. whatsa

      at least

      they wont end up splattered on a runaway

      the lumia 820 will direct the to the airport correctly and not onto runaway

      I doubt it is much more than they have the system already developed and

      putting it on surface is a no brainer. and far easier without having to develop

      for multiple platforms completely from scratch.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The iPads are great as cockpit document readers but clearly Delta are more forward thinking than that. The Delta pilot in their video said on their choice of Surface "We need an inflight solution, not just a document reader". Airline workflows and systems are complex so it appears that MS can offer something more than the iPad.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    They'll have to turn them off before landing, right?

    1. Big_Ted

      Re: Presumably

      Wrong just the wifi etc.

      Its what flight mode is for.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Presumably

        Pardon me, my sense of humour is not showing. I should have included -->

  7. JeeBee

    Sadly for Delta the iPad is approved for use as a digital flight bag, whereas the Surface 2 is not.

    Apparently the cost of waiting for approval will cost Delta an extra $20m in fuel costs (for the heavy non-digital flight bags) over using the iPad today. Which is more than the $5.5m cost of the devices.

    This really stinks of kickbacks and corporate schmoozing. Or a Microsoft-only infected IT department.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From a very quick Internet search the MS article about this says:

      "Delta expects to receive approval from the FAA to use the tablets during all phases of flight next year, a process that follows an extensive period of testing on board Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft. Approvals for all fleet types are expected by the end of the year. "

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        They're going to request approval following testing due to be completed by the end of the year. By the time that the FAA have signed it off (and that is by no means guaranteed) then you're looking at at least 6 months elapsed. Then they have to roll them out. The iPad is already approved and available now. That's a difference of at least 3.25 million sheets of paper and 600,000 gallons of fuel (@ roughly $6/gallon) taking the numbers from the article.

  8. Deadly Chicken

    I had 2 android tablets, and 1 ipad before I got my surface RT, the ipad was next to useless for anything work related, the android tablets could do some stuff but essentially didn't gets used ( like yours ) because they were more annoying to use than to get up and uwait for a desktop PC to turn on. ( ok I went somewhere once where I needed a gps and it was good except it didn't last the journey as the battery got drained having to be on wifi tethered to my phone and using gps. )

    However the surface RT has allowed me to not lug around my giant laptop anymore, the laptop is now a desktop as it stays docked always, the tablet has become my mobile workstation and is hugely productive.

    As for using the iplayer app ... err .. it doesn't need one, I just go to the iplayer website and view the full content using the built in browser, the reason ios needs so many apps is because its browser is severely limited in what it can do, the surface has a great browser and many of these "must have" apps like facebook etc are not required because you can pin the page to your start screen and instead of a limited app that you have to learn how to use, you get the full website.

    People are such sheep these days, they hear some press and marketing propaganda and go about repeating it verbatim

    lol if you think MS paid delta to use their tablets, no doubt they got a great deal on them, but I suspect you could too if you rang up and said you want 11000.

    1. Hellcat

      Have an up-vote!

      Now we have an RT in the house I couldn't imagine having to put up with a less capable tablet.

      Perhaps Microsoft could addopt the tag-line"You won't need an app for that"

    2. craigj

      instead of a limited app that you have to learn how to use, you get the full website.

      The "full website" that doesn't have useful featues of a native app, such as storing content offline to view when an internet connection isnt present.

    3. David Glasgow

      You forgot....

      ....the joke alert icon.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    product usage rights

    product usage rights used to say you couldn't use windows for aviation, critical medical purposes, nuclear, etc - something to do with the need for reliability

    1. Dave Pickles

      Re: product usage rights

      More to do with MS not getting sued if a plane lands on a nuclear power station and someone's pacemaker goes into overdrive.

    2. Matt_payne666

      Re: product usage rights

      this is only one example of windows in use in military aviation....

      I think you will find windows in a LOT of critical environments - Warships, missile systems, medical imaging......

      other OS's are used too... but there isn't a blanket ban on windows, which is a perfectly useable and stable platform when trimmed and managed properly

      1. Matt_payne666

        Re: product usage rights

        here was my forgotten link to military aviation computers for windows...

      2. JeffyPoooh

        Re: product usage rights

        M_P666: "I think you will find windows in a LOT of critical environments - Warships, ..."

        You mean Windows-for-Warships? Hardly a good counter-example to prove how reliable Windows can be in a critical environment. It actually proves the opposite point. The first UK-built Windows boat experienced a complete PC shut-down within minutes upon entering its very first sea trial exercise. It took them 20 minutes to turn it back on again. Sitting duck. FAIL.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: product usage rights

          The issue is OSX has no real server edition... but for SOHO.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: product usage rights

          @JeffPooh: a couple of points:

          1) It was a ship, not a boat.

          2) It wasn't commissioned, by definition it was still having the bugs worked out of it. That's what sea trials are for. You wouldn't write of a whole ship if the engine failed during initial sea trials, you'd fix it and carry on.

        3. Dr?

          Re: product usage rights

          Microsoft fail or Royal Navy fail? It would still be less of a sitting duck than an aircraft carrier with no aircraft.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: product usage rights

        "I think you will find windows in a LOT of critical environments - Warships, missile systems, medical imaging......"

        No, you wouldn't. Having worked in the defence industry for more years than I care to remember I can emphatically state that I have only once seen Windows used as an OS in any critical system; a very badly made early days battlefield HUD system that made use of WfWG3.11, kept going into reset and had to be rebooted every 20 minutes. I think the accepted practice when met with MoD/USDoD requests along the lines of "Can't you use Windows?" is to put a Windows sticker on the package but to make sure that the OS is one that actually works.

      4. Charles Manning

        How soon they forget

        "I think you will find windows in a LOT of critical environments - Warships, "

        USS Yorktown was towed back to port multiple times due to software glitches.

  10. wadd

    11,000 units - that is about a day's worth of iPad sales - go Microsoft! And of course Android has recently surpassed iOS in tablet sales. So as with mobile we MS fighting off Blackberry for the bottom 2%.

    1. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Not even a days worth. If I've got my math correct then they are currently selling about 46,500 per day.

  11. Alan Denman

    ve have many vays of kontrolling you

    Quite obviously, employees are locked out of messing it up.

    Sadly the lifetime paywall experience is no no for those of us used to better.

    1. Matt_payne666

      Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

      that's the thing... you cant stop an employee from messing up an ipad... just go to the settings and remove the profile...

      a device used in a mission critical operation - like a flight deck needs to be locked down. The tablet is not a personal entertainment device for bored pilots, its an electronic manual... its no fun when a plane is falling through the sky, your running through your emergency procedure when a words with friends request comes in and instead of looking at glide configuration, your greeted with a scrabble board!

      saying that, im not sure if 8RT cant be controlled with Group policy, but I believe 8.1RT can

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

        Wrong, you can lock down an iOS device with corporate settings that prevent changes etc.


        1. Matt_payne666

          Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

          you can in deed do that, or manage an iOS device with a multitude of MDM solutions, but the configuration is just stored as a profile, much like the BT cloud wifi profile... an administrator cant lock down that setting from a user, which means you can just disable the profile...

          I run a mixed OSX/Windows network and was looking to deploy several hundred iOS devices, but after 3 days of iOS Enterprise deployment training, the instructors couldn't give me an option to mandate any setting to be locked from a user - its not apples design ethic - one device per user with that user being an administrator of his device...

          As the LA education board found out when trying to roll out ipads to the students - 300,000 had the security removed in the first week...

          Profiles work lovely in a BYOD environment, where I can setup our radius and VPN by a user connecting to an open wireless network and installing a profile, which they then discard, but for properly administered security, your bang out of luck

          1. Steve Todd Silver badge

            Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

            Did you bother to read that link? You can lock a profile to a device so that, short of a complete wipe, you can't remove it. It's there in black and white in the guide.

          2. Colin Wilson 2

            Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

            > an administrator can't lock down that setting from a user...

            Yes they can. With the iPhone onfiguration utility you can set it so that that the user can remove the profile; the user can remove the profile with a password, or the user can't remove (or otherwise disable) the profile at all.

            See the 'security' dropdown in the General tab in the configuration utility. Set 'Control when this profile can be removed' to 'Never'.

            Maybe the LA education board forgot to set this option?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JeffyPoooh

        Re: ve have many vays of kontrolling you

        "...IT'S no fun when a plane is falling through the sky, YOU'RE running through your emergency procedure..."

        Electronic version can be better faster and cheaper. They can tick-off things as they go. They can defer items for later, and be reminded. A vast improvement.

        Just not sure about MS Windows. Their management, designers and coders are the sharpest knives in the drawer lately.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have no idea why I bother reading the comments here any more. We get it - everyone hates Microsoft, and almost no-one has a novel, fun or interesting way of saying it!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      Not everyone hates microsoft - there are a few supporters out there who regularly come out in their defence. But you are right - not a single comment is interesting.

  13. Zot

    I wonder what.. they'll use? It sounds like a complex layout of work that needs to be enter and organised, and there won't be any off-the-shelf Arm products available.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what..

      Guess a large airline like Delta doesn't use an off-the-shelf solution as those for GA - think it needs custom applications integrated with all its organization and related software. Beyond maps, there is some paperwork piltos need to fill before and after a flight - if Delta can move it to devices as well and the transfer it to and from its management systems is another chance for savings and speed up operations and control.

  14. Julian Taylor Silver badge

    At least they haven't bought ...

    At least they haven't bought a fleet of 787 Dreamliners as well.

  15. Nanners


    This is a classic microsoft move and it's genius. Find isolated pockets of specialized industry and business and target it with specially built software. This is exactly how they wormed their way into the PC industry and it's brilliant. They will sneak their way back in the back door with moves like this.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Classic

      Is it just a matter of time until Microsoft and Ryanair hook up then?

    2. Tim Brown 1

      Re: Classic

      Genius until the first incident where a Delta aircraft gets into trouble because their Microsoft tablet locks up at just the wrong moment...

      1. Nanners

        Re: Classic

        My next thought was... now they just have to make the software something the industry WANTS to use.

  16. Glostermeteor

    Still far too expensive

    The new surface tablets are even more expensive than the original. They will need to reduce prices if they want them to shift. I could get a top of the line ultrabook for about half the price.

  17. Mr. Peterson

    just out of curiosity

    Show us an Air France Flight 447 sim run on one of these things.

  18. N2 Silver badge

    or is Microsoft

    Buying delta airlines next?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is not being reported here is why the Surface 2 was chosen. The reason is, they wanted something that won't grow legs. Since no one will steal them, they don't have to worry about it not being there. If they use an Android Tablet or an iPad, they would be gone in no time flat. Use a Surface and it will be left alone.

  20. Herby

    It will be an interesting comparison!

    So, Delta uses Surface tablets for its EFB stuff, and other airlines (American for instance) use iPads. Let the war for mindshare begin.

    Pilots (even from different airlines) socialize together. They are a tight group. If there are features lacking in one platform, or bad things like crashes of software, EVERYONE will know about it.

    The original "EFB" software is/was developed by Boeing (a subsidiary Jeppesen) where I did some contracting work a bunch of years ago. It was THE hot thing for reducing paperwork and all that stuff. The pilots seem to think it is OK, and since there are two editions in the cockpit (captain, and first officer) it should be OK as well for redundancy.

    Time will tell if this really works. My friends make note that it was the touch interface that made it all work (replacing a laptop). The keyboard just gets in the way.

  21. Mikel

    Surface Leap day bug grounds Delta FOR 24 HOURS

    News from the future.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paper vs Windows

    I might well trust a proven EFB to deliver at a critical moment, but if the product had MS behind it in any major capacity it would be very hard to have any real confidence in it. With one third of the worlds PC users still desperately hanging on to a 13 year old OS like a climber clinging to a crumbling ledge by their fingertips, there's not much in the last decade's Redmond output to inspire any real confidence for when push comes to shove.

  23. dssf

    Carry-Around Edition and In-Flight Edition

    Carry-Around Edition and In-Flight Edition

    Whether it is an iPad or Surface, what controlling of the plane with it will the flight crew perform?

    Why not make in-flight software that is the equivalent that is on the tablet, but give it a tether so it won't easily work outside of the plane? It could just be latched to the deck or a safe, out-of-face area when not in use, and then for flight management, outside of the cockpit, the pilots could use whatever software is optimized for the variety of approved reference reading devices the pilots adopt.

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