After all, it's been two years since the iPad was approved for use by American Airlines as a so-called Electronic Flight Bag -- replacing 40 pounds of paper maps and charts.
Microsoft's Surface 2, by contrast, has not yet been approved by the FAA. Moreover, by the company's own admission it wouldn't be fully deployed for two years, by which time Microsoft may have moved on to the Surface 3, if not the Surface 4.
"We fought hard for iPad," a disappointed Delta pilot told AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger, charging that Delta's IT department was "in bed" with Microsoft.
It wouldn't be the first time.
Pressed to explain why his company went with Microsoft over Apple, a Delta spokesman said it boiled down to choosing a device that could be easily integrated into Delta's existing information technology structure, which runs on Microsoft Windows.
That's the story across much of the industry, says Christopher Dean. He's the point person for Jeppesen's FliteDeck Pro, the electronic version of its airline industry-standard "Jepp" charts.
Jeppesen's first digital products were Windows-based, but the company switched to iOS in 2010 when the iPad was released and pilots starting bringing them into the cockpit.
"I see pilots all around the world who are in love with their iPad," says Dean. "You'd have to peel it out out their hand forcibly."
But there are also a lot of pilots who grew up on Windows and, like Delta's IT managers, have been waiting for a Windows-compatible alternative to the iPad.
The Windows 8 version of FliteDeck Pro is expected to be ready next year. The company also makes a stripped-down Android product, but it has no plans to make the full-fledged FliteDeck Pro for Google's (GOOG) platform.
"The demand for iOS," says Dean, "is just too great."
Although Microsoft has been in the tablet business since 2001, starting with the pen-based Windows Tablet PC, its track record so far has not been great. That includes the Surface RT product unveiled just last year.
"Microsoft had tried to unload its unsold Surface inventory on schools," writes AppleInsider's Dilger, "but even fire sale pricing couldn't move the inventory. Last month, it began dumping the devices on education for free, calling it 'Bing for Schools.'"
From November 20 to January 2, passengers on Airtran, Virgin America and Delta will receive free WiFi on their flights.
A repeat of last year, Google is giving free WiFi to some holiday travelers. Google (GOOG) is also using the opportunity to advertise their Chrome browser, which has been gaining significant market share lately (closing in on 10%). The gift appears to be from the Chrome team and will work with Gogo wireless. Will MORESeth Weintraub - Nov 8, 2010 10:48 AM ET
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