Energy tips for Vista, PLUS (no surprise) power management will be a huge part of Windows 7

For those that have made the Vista plunge, Microsoft has just published two white papers that outline ways that enterprise customers can reduce both energy consumption and operating costs.The first, called Saving Costs and Energy With Windows Vista, outlines the operating system's more than 30 specific energy-efficiency advantages over earlier versions of Windows.

For those that have made the Vista plunge, Microsoft has just published two white papers that outline ways that enterprise customers can reduce both energy consumption and operating costs.

The first, called Saving Costs and Energy With Windows Vista, outlines the operating system's more than 30 specific energy-efficiency advantages over earlier versions of Windows. The second is a step-by-step guide about how to save energy by using these features. It also includes arguments about why Windows Vista is a more substainable software citizen than Windows XP. (To wit, switching 5,000 "high-capability" PCs from XP to Vista would save carbon emissions equivalent to taking 323 cars of the road for a year.)

The big leap, however, will come with Windows 7.

Jennifer Mazzanti, cofounder and president of e-Mazzanti Technologies, an IT services company in Hoboken, N.J., and part of Microsoft's Ignite program for the new OS, says that Windows 7 represents a major leap forward in terms of the centralized group management features that administrators can apply. It can more specifically address things like display brightness and how peripherals act. When her company tried out the software on a relatively old laptop, they managed to extend the battery life to six hours from the 4.5 hours it was giving its user in the "before" state.

With Windows 7, the engineering team is trying to address three major areas that will contribute to the operating system's energy efficiency, according to a Windows engineering blog post from earlier this year. Those three areas are the base hardware performance, the OS itself, and everything that builds off the two such as drives, third-party software, and so on. The engineers note that a single software application can impact battery life by 20 percent or more.

But, you declare, earlier versions of Windows deal with power management. Yes, indeed they do, but Windows 7 will have a sharper focus on what happens in the idle state, reducing processor activity to a bare minimum because we all know that a supposedly asleep computer today still consumes plenty of electricity. Microsoft is also working on support for new power modes for how devices like scanners, audio, smart cards and so on are managed power-wise.

I'm sure we'll start hearing lots more as the product gets closer to its official launch. Stay tuned.

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