Balance of power: Windows 7 walks fine line between saving battery life and alienating users

As the countdown to the Windows 7 release to manufacturing (supposedly late this month) ticks away, the Microsoft sustainability team has been trumpeting the new operating system's power management credentials as loudly as possible. I've written some posts about this already, but for this entry I really wanted to mention one major theme: The team's concern about balancing power management and negative user experience.

As the countdown to the Windows 7 release to manufacturing (supposedly late this month) ticks away, the Microsoft sustainability team has been trumpeting the new operating system's power management credentials as loudly as possible. I've written some posts about this already, but for this entry I really wanted to mention one major theme: The team's concern about balancing power management and negative user experience.

"We don't want power management to be an extra burden," says Francois Ajenstat, director of environmental sustainability for Microsoft.

The new OS, for example, understands that not every work or usage scenario is the same, so it adjusts the CPU usage depending on the types of things you're doing. So, for example, Windows 7 knows to shut down the Bluetooth stack (which can suck a lot of power) if your systems doesn't sense a device nearby that could make use of it. Likewise, it might automatically switch off the wireless adapter if you happen to using an Ethernet or wired connection.

This is important, frankly, because if you are like me, you're just not going to remember to do these sorts of things manually. Nor should you really have to, when push comes to shove.

There are also some telemetry features in Windows 7 that will help you troubleshoot power management problems. So, if you've got a driver running that might prevent your system from drifting off into sleep mode, it will tell you about it. Likewise, if your battery is going bad, it will give you a heads up.

This blog entry on Microsoft's Sustainability Blog gives you the public low-down on where the Windows 7 team has focused its power management priorities. Here's a white paper from April 2009 that outlines all of the Windows 7 power management features more specifically.

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