Sirius XM has been replaced in the friendly skies with audio content carrying the Microsoft Zune brand. The change should help raise the Zune's profile and give the software company a chance to promote the Zune HD player.
United Airlines and Microsoft announced the switch this week as United's deal with Sirius XM for in-flight audio ended May 30. Now, United says its customers will have more choices of "free music" for their in-flight audio with the introduction of up to 21 separate channels programmed by Microsoft on all United planes.
United said it would work with Zune and Microsoft to create new onboard experiences while Microsoft said the deal has the potential to allow "millions" of United customers to experience Zune. No physical Zune player is involved; passengers will plug into the plane's audio system to hear Zune-branded content.
United will continue to offer its "From the Flight Deck" audio on Channel 9.