PC World plans 'green' Vista PC

Retailer is planning to build an environmentally friendly PC, but is criticised for choosing to run power-hungry Vista on it

Retailer PC World claims that it is working on the world's most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly PC, based partly on recycled components.

On Tuesday, the high street chain announced that it is planning to develop a sustainable PC that would make use of recycled and energy efficient components. "Components will be selected for their efficiency and low energy consumption," PC World claimed.

However, the actual details of how the machine will be manufactured are scant. One of the few details to emerge is that the PC's operating system will apparently be the recently released Windows Vista.

Vista has been roundly criticised by technologists and environmental campaigners alike for the fact that it will require more expensive and powerful hardware to run optimally.

A spokesman for the Green Party suggested on Tuesday that the choice of Vista for a a so-called green machine could be a mistake, and called on retailers to offer more PCs without Windows pre-installed.

"It would be a good thing if PC World was to offer operating systems other than Vista. XP or no operating system preinstalled at all would be ideal," the Green Party spokesman told ZDNet UK.

Last month, the Party criticised Vista for requiring "more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment." This point has also been made by other experts in recent months.

Tony Roberts, chief executive of Computer Aid International, warned last year that Vista could lead to a glut of unwanted PCs entering the waste stream as users are forced to upgrade their hardware. "The new power-hungry operating system will require many users to upgrade or replace their PCs. There may be as many as 10 million PCs discarded in the next two years as they are replaced by Vista-compatible hardware," said Roberts  

The British Computer Society also warned recently that consumers and businesses must consider how they dispose of old machines if they are planning an upgrade to Vista.

ZDNet UK's official review of Vista Business also concluded that hardware requirements for Windows Vista "should not be taken lightly".

Robert Vamosi, senior associate editor for ZDNet's sister site CNET.com, has claimed that even Microsoft seems to admit the best performance is only available on high-specification systems manufactured within the last year or so. "In a move to garner positive reviews, Microsoft sent hundreds of bloggers [not including ZDNet] free copies of Windows Vista Ultimate; Microsoft did not send boxed copies, rather the software giant sent top-of-the-line Acer Ferrari notebooks with the operating system preinstalled," Vamosi said.

PC World did not respond in time for this article but Microsoft recently defended the environmental impact of Vista, claiming that it takes green issues extremely seriously.

Microsoft director of government affairs, Matt Lambert, said the company was doing its best to improve its environmental standing. "Environmental issues are important to us all and we believe we are making important steps towards reducing the environmental footprint of our products and the hardware on which they run," Lambert said.

Lambert added that Microsoft is happy to meet with the Green Party to discuss its environmental record.