Delta To Move Away From Surface and Windows Mobile for iOS Devices

Posted on October 22, 2017 by Brad Sams in iOS, Mobile, Windows Phones with 72 Comments

A few years ago, when Delta announced that they would be using Surfaces and Windows Mobile devices on their planes, it was a big win for Microsoft. As we all now know, Windows Mobile and the Lumia line are effectively dead which puts Delta in a tough spot.

To little surprise, Delta is moving away from Microsoft’s hardware and is joining the many other airlines who use iPads and iPhones on their flights. The company sent out an internal email announcing the changes which will start taking place in 2018.

Delta’s move to a digital flight bag started back in 2011 with a fleet-wide rollout occurring in 2013. These devices help cut the weight of the paper forms previously used that could weight up to 40 pounds.

While the loss of Delta using Microsoft’s mobile devices is not unexpected, losing the Surface device contract has a much bigger impact. Microsoft has tried relentlessly to position its Surface Pro brand as the premium alternative to the iPad but in this case, Apple’s ecosystem proved to be superior to what Microsoft could offer.

This move for Delta is another example of how Microsoft no longer having a mobile platform is hurting the company’s business objectives. If Windows Mobile would have been able to grab even modest market share and become a mainstream option, I don’t think I would be writing this post today.

For Microsoft, the loss of sales of Surface hardware is one thing but the other, larger factor, is that the company needs to develop a mobile offering for clients that prefer a single vendor provide the entire hardware solution for their operations.

[Update] Here is Microsoft’s statement on this change:

“We have a great partnership with Delta. The company decided, as part of its hardware refresh cycle, to standardize on a 10.5” form factor for its electronic flight bag. Delta continues to invest in and is using Microsoft productivity and business applications, including Dynamics and Office 365 across their operations and will continue to do so.”

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Comments (76)

76 responses to “Delta To Move Away From Surface and Windows Mobile for iOS Devices”

  1. Avatar

    dhallman

    What? Surface sales and use are effected by a lack of smartphone platform? Golly gosh! I sure hope it does not eat into their VR, AI, cloud and smart speaker hopes. So why didn't Microsoft just sell off the Nokia factories, drastically reduce costs and make specialized devices in-house to keep cops, airlines and other phone contracts happy? If Google can sell Motorola but still 'innovate' with Pixel without killing each quarter I have to think Microsoft could have as well. I guess we'll never know.

    • Avatar

      Marius Muntean

      In reply to dhallman:

      Smart speakers?? Are you kidding? :)) Others are already there with better solutions: Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Who on earth needs a mediocre solution from MS that is most likely to be killed off in a few months? AR/VR?? Others are better too there because they have a platform and devs supporting it, not like MS. MS monumental failure will be a huge page in history.

  2. Avatar

    RealDarrenCohen

    The problem is not as much moving away from the Surface as it is Delta is working IBM on this rollout. They quietly have been building quite an iOS enterprise ecosystem and it's going to dominate aerospace, healthcare, and retail.

  3. Avatar

    Nadawan

    Delta, then GE, then thousands more! It's time for Nadella to wake up.

    • Avatar

      OwenM

      In reply to Nadawan:

      Not really sure what this comment means sorry

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      In reply to Nadawan:

      Was GE using Windows phones?

      I've read a few articles which mention universal experience from phones to PCs, but when did Apple achieve universal experiences across iOS and macOS?

      OTOH, GE now offering employees the choice of getting Macs on their desks would seem to infer that GE has no plans for in-house UWP app development. If that could be extended to most of MSFT's enterprise customers, that just might mean UWP apps becomes the choice of only those avid MSFT fans who'd buy MSFT-branded manure along with their computing hardware.

    • Avatar

      wshwe

      In reply to Nadawan:

      Nadella woke up to the reality that Microsoft could pore more billions down the drain in mobile and still lose market share. Android and iOS have won going away.

  4. Avatar

    Mark from CO

    Brad:


    Delta's decision underscores the lies of 2 common perceptions that are banished about in the popular tech press:


    1. That Microsoft can make a go of it without a mobile device. I know you disagree, but the total retreat from the mobile space may be the defining moment in Satya Nadella's reign as CEO. Windows without a mobile device, is a platform missing an arm and a leg.
    2. Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) are not 'enterprise' strength. The amount of real business that is being done on iOS, though Apple tablets is really amazing. Microsoft indeed has two legitimate enterprise competitors that will only get stronger.


    Mark from CO

  5. Avatar

    blackbalerion

    Not only Delta but General Electric, that behemoth with 330.000 workers, made that move too. Besides that, this deal also includes software development efforts on basis of iOS...

  6. Avatar

    Edward Grego

    There is going to be a lot more of this tech switching, Microsoft will lose much more without Windows Mobile then if they had kept it and stop screwing over it’s base.

  7. Avatar

    Marius Muntean

    General Electrics is doing the same! Check out the facts on it. So two huge companies just ditched MS!

    • Avatar

      idaband

      In reply to Marius_Muntean:


      This is actually fake news. I work for GE. We are not ditching Microsoft. We actually have offered both platforms for a long time. Both Apple and PC work well for the company. The media ran with "fake news". We are creating a new product that will be built on IOS as apposed to Android.

  8. Avatar

    John Craig

    Big fan of Microsoft and have supported them even when they haven't deserved it. Their lack of honesty when it comes to what they had planned with mobile over the last two years was frankly shocking. They were killing the platform internally while telling us that they were still committed and all in on mobile.


    How many times did Terry Myerson and Satya Nadella tell us they were 100% committed to mobile and would continue to build hardware and software to support their mobile market?


    These guys were lying to the world bare faced. That's an awful thing for any company to do. Truly awful.


    A technology company the size of Microsoft needs a mobile strategy. And as this article proves, having a mobile strategy isn't just about keeping the consumer happy. It's about holding onto those critical Enterprise clients too.


    I mean, what was the thinking here? First board meeting with Nadella in charge..."hey guys, I know we've just spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country on that Nokia acquisition but frankly it's not in my wheelhouse to keep going with mobile. But don't panic because I'm pretty sure we can build a decent cloud business and convince the whole world that mobile phones aren't really as important as laptops."


    Well, it'll be interesting to see how Microsoft do when the enterprise market decides they don't need or want them anymore.

  9. Avatar

    Jules Wombat

    And what software will they run on these iPads ? Delta bespoke software, but I bet they also run Microsoft 365 Office and possibly Azure services etc. Surface devices are not really mobile are they, more like laptops.

    The future is in services, and delivering the experiecne to the user, NOT in devices. So many dimwits here still don't get Microsoft mobile strategy, is now to deliver services. Not devices or indeed platforms.

  10. Avatar

    Bob Shutts

    You're stuck with IOS if you're in general aviation. The leading app is Foreflight, which is IOS only.

    • Avatar

      illuminated

      In reply to Bob_Shutts:

      ForeFlight is not the only app there. There are many many more apps available both on Android and iOS.

      In any case Windows as a mobile platform is now goner. Delta was probably the last user with Jepessen being the only app maker on that platform. With big customer like delta gone there is no reason to do any windows development of aviation apps. It is now only a question of time when OEMs will discontinue windows tablets as well.


  11. Avatar

    skane2600

    I would expect the in-flight computing activities to be fairly simple, close in complexity to a Point of Sale system. In that context I could imagine that a full Windows Surface device could be overkill, unless they are replacing Surface PCs with iPad Pros rather than traditional iPads.

  12. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Perhaps the path forward requires MSFT to build the best possible interoperation between Android phones and Windows tablets. Time for MSFT to embrace and extend Android?

    • Avatar

      jrickel96

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Android is a dead platform with no future. Why? It is primarily only for consumers. It has poor security and no business or government that cares about those things uses it. Google won't solve the security problems inherent to Android nor do they want to because they want to get information from the platform - that's how they make money on ads.


      No company that cares about security uses Android for any sensitive stuff. You cannot use it in medicine due to issues with HIPAA compliance. You cannot use them in government due to security concerns. Attorneys won't use them for anything sensitive.


      It will only take one massive security threat for Android to be massively compromised and Google can do nothing to stop it. Right now, iOS is the only option on tablet and phone if you want some semblance of security. But Windows Phone has long not been an option because employees also need to use the phones functionally as well.


      I can almost guarantee that MS encouraged the move to iOS nor do they care about a move to Mac for GE when those Macs will still be on O365 and GE will still be using Azure the most of their cloud services (though their IT stuff is on AWS, most of their research and dev tools are in Azure).


      So much of what will be used on these devices will be powered by MS' Cloud and quite a bit of how GE works - like via MS Teams, MS Project, etc will be also powered by MS regardless of platform.


      But few GE employees of any import will use Android for anything company related. Things may change after Andromeda gets off the ground, but MS probably will see no difference between GE and Delta dropping them. Delta was not a big Surface buyer and the Nokia assets that Delta bought from in the past are gone - and MS was losing money on them anyways.


      They are working on a flexible solution, but it's not there. The HP Elite X3 still exists. But these businesses want mobile that is trustworthy and secure. The iPhone is the only real game in town as is the iPad. Betcha a fraction of GE's employees work with the Mac as it also has its future in doubt.


      In fact, how many of those Macs will run Windows? Market research indicates that nearly 50% of Macs run Windows most of the time now. So are we sure those Macs will be running OS X? Or maybe GE cut a deal with Apple and is getting a better price on the hardware? They still have a relationship with MS and do not be surprised if they install Windows on those machines. Trust me, GE has a massive corporate wide Windows volume license.

  13. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Was MSFT ever going to be a major hardware vendor? The OEMs would like to know.

    How many businesses would prefer tablets rather than PCs? I can see why tablets make sense for airline cockpit crews, maybe for some sales and support people who are mostly on client sites. Beyond that, I figure demand for tablets isn't as great, and Apple doesn't have a single ecosystem for iPhones and Macbooks.

  14. Avatar

    anchovylover

    I'm reading that General Electric is also moving some 300,000 employees from MS to Apple.

    • Avatar

      jrickel96

      In reply to anchovylover:

      They are moving the mobile side over - and much of it was actually already there. They are making the Mac an option for employees.


      However, they are using Office 365 and Azure. They also have a big deal with MS on windpower in Ireland. I would not be surprised if MS directed them to iOS in mobile for the time being. It's really the only option in Enterprise when it comes to security and updates. Android has no purpose there.

    • Avatar

      idaband

      In reply to anchovylover:

      See comment above. The news on GE is "Fake News". I work for GE. WE are NOT ditching PC's. We actually have offered both OS's to employees for a long time.

      hey have offered MAC for employees for a LONG time...this is not "news" Only the mobile market is changing a bit.

  15. Avatar

    James Wilson

    As I've said time and time again, Microsoft leaving the mobile business is going to have far reaching implications that they hadn't even thought of. Even if they'd brought out a 960 and 960XL with speed bumps - at least they would have a foot in the market and other vendors could follow with mid or low price alternatives. Windows 10 mobile could only have got better and at least they would have had a chance to keep their corporate contracts.


    On the other side, perhaps the corporate hardware business was not lucrative enough for Microsoft and they want to leave that too?

    • Avatar

      Winner

      In reply to James_Wilson:

      I agree that MS not in the mobile market is bad for them. But I disagree with the premise that they could have left their foot in the door. Keeping their mobile OS alive when it was nearly dead didn't serve any value. That ship had already sailed a couple of years earlier, just nobody wanted to admit it.

      • Avatar

        Awhispersecho

        In reply to Winner:

        People seem to forget that they sold 33 million phones in 2013 which was double the previous year, 35 million more in 2014 and that's with 1 bad quarter at the end due to having no new releases. They were outselling the iPhone in 14 markets at that point and were also sitting at an installed base of 60-70 million Windows Phone users. They bought Nokia and then named Nadella CEO. The quarter before that they sold over 8 million phones, the very 1st quarter after bringing on Nadella, they sold roughly 5 and a half million and it just went downhill from there.


        They had momentum, they had press writing about them and consumers hearing about their offerings (the 1520 and 1020) and then they bought Nokia and Nadella came in and put an end to everything. They will not recover and have no choice now but to become a different company, a company that consumers don't care about and business rely on less and less.


        People have selective memory when it comes to Windows Phone and when and why the demise started. At 1 point they had the same about of users as Apple has Mac users and their sales were increasing. If they stayed in the Mobile market and only made it to 5% market share, that would mean 150 million people using their phone platform today. That alone would have made a world of difference for UWP and the future of Windows itself.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      In reply to James_Wilson:

      . . . and other vendors could follow with mid or low price alternatives . . .

      MSFT already tried that. Perhaps various South Asian phone makers tried making/selling Windows phones, but they didn't catch on. In OECD countries, it was almost entirely Nokia by 2013 with a few drips of HTC, Blu and a very few others making/selling tens of thousands of Windows phones.

      Low-cost phone makers really weren't dying to make cheap Windows phones 3 or 4 years ago, and they wouldn't have been eager to even if MSFT had kept on selling 9xx phones and scrapped their 5xx, 6xx, 7xx, and 8xx lines. Actually, MSFT might have been best off ditching all but its 6xx line.

      That said, how many contracts did MSFT have to supply enterprise phones? The only ones I've heard of were Delta Airlines and New York city police. Even if that involved a few hundred thousand phones, it would have been an order of magnitude less than a rounding error in MSFT's financials.

    • Avatar

      EZAB

      In reply to James_Wilson:

      Totally agree with you, but... Microsoft didn't have the 960, 960XL, but HP did with the Elite x3. They were also going to release another one I'm guessing with the 835 Chip. I hope they still release a refreshed x3. HP HAS the hardware, Microsoft does not!What Microsoft did to HP borders on criminal.

  16. Avatar

    BoItmanLives

    Ruh oh, general electric just dumped Microsoft too. 300,000 workers. Ouch.

    • Avatar

      idaband

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      See comment above. The news on GE is "Fake News". I work for GE. WE are NOT ditching PC's. We actually have offered both OS's to employees for a long time. We still you Microsoft and will not be getting rid of them anytime soon. We have partnered with apple for some work.... ... The Media ran with something that isn't true.

    • Avatar

      jrickel96

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Mostly on the mobile side only. GE is promoting Mac, but I have a feeling that won't go anywhere. What is not noted is GE is still using Office 365 and MS Azure. - all of which work with the iPhone.


      Notice who no company is switching to? Android. Android is a dead platform full of security loopholes, lack of updates, etc.


      Most of those companies will not see many if any employees migrate their desktop computers. This is also why making sure Edge is on these platforms is important.

      • Avatar

        Thomas Parkison

        In reply to jrickel96:
        Notice who no company is switching to? Android. Android is a dead platform full of security loopholes, lack of updates, etc.

        But most users don't want to admit that about their beloved Android. They refuse to see the obvious issues with the Android platform.


        Now before you start reaching for your pitchforks and torches let me say that I love open platforms as much as the next tech enthusiast. Open platforms are great, they spur innovation and creativity in the market. Open platforms are great until they are not and that's where Android is currently at, Android is at a point in an open platform's life cycle in which it's not so great.


        For most businesses they want to know that when they buy into a platform that platform is going to be supported for a long time to come. This is where Microsoft's Windows platform has been successful, companies know that when they build their business platform on top of Windows that business platform will not only be supported for years to come but the platform under which that business platform is running is going to be supported as well. This is where Android fails and fails quite badly and where Apple iOS succeeds. Why? All it takes is to look at the average support life cycle of an average Android device and you'll discover that it's pretty pathetic. Most Android devices are supported with software updates and patches for a period of less than two years, sometimes even less than that with a support life cycle being barely a year. This is in stark contrast to Apple iOS in which an iPhone is supported for nearly four years. Granted it may not run the latest version of iOS very fast but if you're business that doesn't matter, all that matters is that the device is supported and security patches are deployed quickly and efficiently which is where Apple iOS is very successful and where Android fails at.

        • Avatar

          Jules Wombat

          In reply to trparky:

          Open Source software is typically MORE SECURE than propriety software, becasue any security flaws are exposed and visbile to the wider community. So AOSP Android will inherently be more secure than iOS or Windows, so long as you have access to the updates, which is a different matter, not associated with Google.

          There is a reason that Microsoft open source most of their.NET stack. Its to get wider and more robust softwae.

        • Avatar

          EZAB

          In reply to trparky:

          Totally agree with you. Isn't Windows on ARM supposed to fill in the gaps for consumers and businesses? The sooner they get those out the better! They better be good! Forget about Android.

          • Avatar

            Marius Muntean

            In reply to EZAB:

            You guys are simply delusional! Win on ARM will change nothing! Enterprises like these two need a complete and working ecosystem! They need commitment and quality, stuff that MS does not deliver anymore since Nutella took charge.

          • Avatar

            Thomas Parkison

            In reply to EZAB:

            I myself have gone to the iPhone personally because to be quite honest, I refuse to use or support a platform that does not take security seriously. Apple iOS is the only platform in the mobile space that takes security seriously and makes sure that every device is patched quickly against any and all vulnerabilities.


            Android, being that it's an open platform, does not have any requirements in the licensing of the software that mandates platform support.


            Oh yes, I know... the Android apologists will come out and say that Google can deliver updates via the Google Play Store and Google Play Services but that support only goes so far and by that I mean that Google can only patch THEIR software, the parts of Android that they control. Anything lower on the software stack such as the kernel and device drivers they cannot touch because they don't have control over that.


            Case in point, the latest KRACK attack. Millions of Android devices are vulnerable to this exploit and will forever be vulnerable because no matter what Google does or tries they can't patch devices against this because the patch needs to be done at a level much lower on the software stack than what they have control over. And since the Android OEMs have shown that they don't give a crap about their devices past one year those devices will never see a patch against this vulnerability.

  17. Avatar

    JimP

    Abandoning mobile was perhaps Microsoft's biggest mistake. Satya Nadella needs to go.

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