Emirates Airlines on Monday announced a tablet deployment of its own, but said it is opting to use one of Hewlett-Packard’s new Windows 8 tablets instead of the iPad. As part of the pilot program, Emirates is providing its cabin crews with 1000 HP ElitePad 900s, all of them running a Windows 8 app called Knowledge Driven Inflight Service (or KIS, because nobody could pronounce KDIS). The devices will be used to manage passenger data like seat assignments and upgrade eligibility.
Why’d Emirates go with Windows 8 tablets? According to Microsoft, it’s because the airline was looking for “a light and attractive device that could last without needing to be recharged on long-haul flights.” Those were certainly considerations. But it’s far more likely that the driving reason Emirates opted for Windows 8 is that its business is already standardized on Windows 7 (barring the longshot chance that it was blindly following Oprah’s recommendation). As the airline itself explains, “We needed an operating system that would integrate with our corporate IT environment.”
Which is not to say this isn’t a nice enterprise win for Microsoft; it is. But it’s a win that was pretty much in the bag all along. Android and iPad were probably never even in the running. As Larry Dignan observes over at ZDnet, “Windows 8 is likely to land many corporate wins if standardization is one of the driving themes. If standardization isn’t a priority, Windows 8 will have to duke it out with Android tablets and Apple’s iPad.”