Microsoft's already shown with the Xbox 360 and Kin that it's looking to take its Zune platform beyond Zune-branded hardware, but we can't say we expected it to go quite this far -- Microsoft has now teamed up with United Airlines to offer "Zune inflight audio" to passengers. That apparently won't involve any new hardware in the planes -- Microsoft or otherwise -- but it will give passengers 21 new playlists "programmed by Zune" to choose from, including options like Classic Rock, Contemporary Pop, Opera and Piano Jazz. Not many more details than that, unfortunately, with United only saying that it looks forward to "working with Zune and Microsoft to create new onboard experiences." Sure, it might not sound like much, but it should at least go some ways towards improving the Zune's name recognition. Full press release is after the break.
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United Airlines Offers Customers Zune Inflight Audio

CHICAGO, Jun 03, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- United Airlines today announced that customers have more choices of free music with the introduction of Zune inflight audio on all United aircraft. United now offers customers a broader selection of music to enjoy during their onboard experience, with up to 21 separate playlists programmed by Zune, Microsoft's premium digital entertainment service.

In addition to familiar channels such as Classic Rock, Contemporary Pop, and Classical, United now features distinctive options such as Soundtracks, Electronic Dance, Opera and Piano Jazz. Customers may continue to enjoy live communication between the flight deck and air traffic control through United's popular "From the Flight Deck" audio on Channel 9, a feature that's unique to United.

"United is committed to providing our customers with innovative onboard entertainment options, and we look forward to working with Zune and Microsoft to create new onboard experiences," said Tom O'Toole, United's senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

"We are excited about this collaboration, which will allow millions of United customers to experience Zune and discover new music through select Zune custom playlists from top artists," says Dave McLauchlan, senior business development manager at Microsoft.

Full channel line-ups can be found in United's in-flight magazine, Hemispheres.

About United

United Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL Corporation /quotes/comstock/15*!uaua/quotes/nls/uaua (UAUA 22.25, +0.47, +2.16%) , operates approximately 3,300** flights a day on United and United Express to more than 230 U.S. domestic and international destinations from its hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C. With key global air rights in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Latin America, United is one of the largest international carriers based in the United States. United also is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides connections for our customers to 1,077 destinations in 175 countries worldwide. United's 46,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. United ranked No. 1 in on-time performance for domestic scheduled flights for 2009 among America's five largest global carriers, as measured by the Department of Transportation and published in the Air Travel Consumer Report for 2009. News releases and other information about United can be found at the company's Web site at united.com, and follow United on Twitter @UnitedAirlines.

** Based on United's forward-looking flight schedule for January 2010 to December 2010

SOURCE: United Airlines

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United Airlines offers up 'Zune inflight audio,' no actual Zunes