Ballmer claims Microsoft is thinking green

At the CeBIT technology show in Hanover, the chief executive was on hand to bang the energy-efficiency drum for the software giant

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has claimed that more efficient use of IT is one of the company's main priorities for the future despite the fact the company has been widely criticised for producing processor-hungry software.

Speaking on Monday at the CeBIT technology show in Hanover, the Microsoft boss described how the software maker is collaborating with German nuclear power provider Yello Strom. Yello Strom's managing director Martin Vesper demonstrated a "Yello-saving counter" — a Vista widget that lets consumers monitor their home power via a PC.

Ballmer explained that PCs and other technology still consume far too much electricity. "The lowering of energy consumption is as important for us as new uses of software and IT for the environment," said Ballmer.

Microsoft cited a study by the UK's PC Pro Labs, which found that for a company with 200 PCs, running Windows Vista on the machines produced 45 tons fewer of carbon per year than running XP. As far as Microsoft is concerned, Windows Vista is the most efficient operating system the company has delivered.

However, a recent survey by US IT services company Softchoice claimed Vista is the most power-hungry Windows desktop so far. The report claimed that at Windows XP's launch, for example, the minimum CPU requirements were 75 percent greater than those for the operating system it replaced, Windows 2000. Vista's minimum CPU requirements are 243 percent larger than that of XP.

The Softchoice survey also showed that of 113,000 desktops checked from over 400 US organisations, 50 percent of the machines wouldn't be able to meet the basic Vista requirements. The UK's Green Party has also criticised Vista for requiring "more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment" .