Friday, March 27, 2015

Unveiling a New, Modern Inflight Entertainment Experience for Alaska Airlines, Powered by Windows

Alaska Airlines is upgrading its flight experience with the goal of making your journey a part of the adventure – and we are happy to announce that Windows will be along for the ride as one of Alaska’s important technology partners.
As part of its newly branded flight experience, called Alaska Beyond, Alaska Airlines is modernizing its fleet of airplanes and reinventing what it means to fly – by introducing new Northwest infused food and beverage options, power outlets at every seat on 70% of its 737 passenger aircrafts by mid-April, direct-to-your-device entertainment, and a new Windows inflight entertainment solution. Deployment of the Windows inflight entertainment solution has already begun with 7,000 Windows Toshiba Encore 2 tablets hitting the skies to date, and more on the way to accommodate Alaska’s route growth and customer demand.
“Innovating a flight experience starts with really understanding our customers,” said Curtis Kopf, Alaska’s vice president of innovation. “With that end user in mind, we made the decision to move to Windows because of the flexibility of the platform and the ability to deliver a wide array of content options.”
“We are excited about this partnership with Microsoft. Today, our inflight entertainment tablets are running Windows 8.1, which provides a great foundation for the experiences we are looking to deliver,” added Kopf. “The launch with our Windows 8.1 devices has gone well and we’re excited to see how Windows 10 can enhance the solution.”
The Technology Experience, Powered by Windows, Skycast Solutions and Ratio
The company’s new inflight entertainment tablets feature 8” Toshiba Encore 2 tablets running Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry. The devices deployed across Alaska Airlines’ fleet are operated by Skycast Solutions, Microsoft’s partner on the program. Skycast has deep experience in the aviation space and their CEO, Bill Boyer, actually invented the first stored content portable IFE device.
“Moving to Windows tablets enables us to provide a cutting edge experience for Alaska’s travelers,” noted Greg Latimer, President Skycast Solutions. “In particular, the robust security capabilities allow us to work with Hollywood studios to load ‘Early Window’ [still in theater] movies that wouldn’t be available without similar safeguards.”
Guests will be able to enjoy the tablet and corresponding app experience once the aircraft has reached cruising altitude. The tablets offer a multitude of services for customers to take advantage of, ranging from movies, TV shows, music, e-publications, and games. The device supports usage for the duration of the flight, at which point, the device is recharged for the next departure.
Alaska Airlines is also teaming up with digital engineering and design partner, Ratio, to integrate technologies, develop entertainment apps, and design the embedded experience. To improve the experience for their guests even further, Ratio aggregates user information to deliver real time analytics through Azure Data Factory, helping Alaska better understand content use case scenarios.
“The Ratio telemetry, powered by the Azure Data Factory, allows Alaska Airlines to understand the entertainment scenarios that its guests prefer and track content popularity,” added Russ Whitman, Chief Strategy Officer at Ratio. “Enabling Alaska to curate content that best serves the traveler is a perfect demonstration of what’s possible when you bring together amazing partners committed to creating an exceptional user experience.”
The airline industry is incredibly fast-paced, with very little margin for error on the customer experiences front. We are proud to be a part of Alaska Airlines’ commitment to deliver world class service and experiences to its customers as a part of Alaska Beyond. For additional information on the Alaska Airlines story, check out our case study.
Windows is helping to power great customer experiences across a variety of industries. And within organizations,Windows 8.1 Enterprise helps takes care of the essentials – letting you manage personal devices in your organization, utilize your investments in your enterprise infrastructure, and enhance the security of your environment. And if you haven’t already, we encourage you to check-out the Windows 10 Technical Preview – we are thrilled about what it will be able to offer for business customers.

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