By Khurram Aziz | Nov 20, 2012 12:39 PM EST
The UAE's national airline, Emirates, has become one of the first to adopt Microsoft Windows-based tablets, which it is handing out to its flight crew.
The company says that by the end of 2013, it will have distributed more than 1,000 HP ElitePad 900 tablets equipped with Windows 8 to its crew and staff.
The announcement was made during a Windows 8 launch event in Dubai, where it also announced a bespoke Windows business app to help manage its customer relationships on flight.
"There is a lot of noise of people doing things with tablet devices, but we are an airline of firsts," said Kevin Griffiths, senior vice-president, cabin crew, at Emirates.
"To support our crew, we have created an application on Windows 8 that delivers a unique, personalized experience, with the necessary information for our cabin crew to better serve the needs of customers," he added.
He said that the Windows 8 platform running on HP ElitePad 900 devices allowed the airline to create the Knowledge Driven In-flight Service (KIS) app to enable its crew to "offer an experience not available on other airlines".
A press release from Microsoft said, "Pursers on the flight use the KIS application to brief the cabin crew before every flight and understand how to best meet the personal preferences and needs of passengers. The crew can also use the application to easily conduct in-flight upgrades to business class or first class for Emirates Skywards members, as well as customer feedback that is immediately routed to headquarters upon landing."
Emirates is the first global customer of the HP ElitePad 900, a 10-inch tablet which Emirates says is light, attractive and has a long battery life: making it ideal for nonstop flights.
The device was announced by HP in October and isn't available to customers until January 2013. It's been designed specifically for business users, offering a Windows 8 touch-optimized user interface, which takes advantage of the operating systems new Live Tiles.
Emirates is known for pushing technological innovations on its flights. In 2006, it became one of the first airlines to allow passengers use cell phones in mid-air, along with e-mail and text messaging.
Other airlines have also announced plans to introduce tablet computers for cabin crew. In September, American Airlines said it received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its pilots to use Apple's iPad in the cockpit which it hopes will allow it to ditch paper manuals.