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Microsoft brings Santa to airports for free photo shoots

Nothing says “successful holiday promotion” like a Santa Claus photo op in a busy international airport during peak travel season. Microsoft is well aware of this. The company recently announced a partnership with Southwest Airlines that will bring real, live Santa Clauses to 26 airports across the country this holiday season. It’s all part of Microsoft’s “Photos on the Fly” promotion pushing the latest version of its Windows Live service.

Starting tomorrow and running from Thursdays to Sundays until Dec. 20, the Micro-Santas will be appearing in major airports including Philadelphia International, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Denver International, and Chicago’s Midway.

Travelers who are interested — or maybe just looking to relieve the stress brought on by a TSA security pat-down — will have the opportunity to have their photo taken with Santa. A group of Microsoft-sponsored elves will then assist with photo editing, printing, and sharing conducted through Microsoft Live. And for those who would rather not been seen with Santa, there will also be an alternative winter wonderland backdrop. Photos will be uploaded to a website for later retrieval or for editing using Photo Fuse. The “Photos on the Fly” website will also allow users to turn photos into traditional holiday cards.

If a Santa photo shoot sounds like something you would rather avoid during your travels, then you might want to check out Google’s holiday gift to air travelers. The Internet giant has partnered with airlines Virgin, Delta, and AirTrans to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi service aboard domestic flights throughout the holiday season. And as with Microsoft, it’s not strictly goodwill and charity that’s driving the generosity: Google has planned the offer as a promotion for its Chrome Web browser. The complimentary Wi-Fi will be offered aboard flights until January 2, 2011.

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