Ballmer: Microsoft is thinking green

At the CeBit technology show in Hannover, the chief executive says the software giant is focusing on lowering energy consumption.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said more efficient use of IT is one of his company's main priorities for the future--despite the fact that the software giant has been criticized by some for producing processor-hungry software.

Speaking Monday at the CeBit technology show in Hannover, the Microsoft chief 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," Ballmer said.

Microsoft cited a study by the U.K.'s PC Pro Labs, which found that for a company with 200 PCs, running Windows Vista on the machines produced 45 tons less 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 U.S. IT services company Softchoice claimed Vista is the most power-hungry Windows desktop so far. The report said 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 more than 400 U.S. organizations, 50 percent of the machines wouldn't be able to meet the basic Vista requirements. The U.K.'s Green Party has also criticized Vista for requiring "more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment."

Dietmar Mueller of ZDNet Germany reported from Hannover.

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