Microsoft is ramping up the power management capabilities in the upcoming Windows 7 operating system with features designed to make it easier for IT administrators to help their companies save money while enhancing the user experience.
Some of the features build on what Microsoft put into Windows Vista, while others are new capabilities unique to Windows 7. However, all are aimed at enabling businesses to reduce the amount of power they consume and pay for.
"[Energy management] has been a key criteria for customers," Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft's director of environmental sustainability, said in an interview. "They want to save energy, they want to save the environment and they want to reduce their carbon footprint."
Microsoft has made sustainability a core component of the company, both in how it conducts itself and in what it puts into the products, Ajenstat said. The company solidified its approach in 2007 with the appointment of Rob Bernard as its chief environmental strategist.
While much of the discussion about green IT in the industry has come from OEMs and chip makers, particularly Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, the operating system can carry a lot of the burden of energy efficiency, Ajenstat said.
With Vista, Microsoft engineers put more than 30 new power management features in place that were turned on by default, Ajenstat said. In a study, the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, found that for every PC with those Vista power management tools turned on, users could save $50 per PC per year on energy costs, he said. Furthermore, Continental Airlines is saving more than $2 million per year in energy costs by using the power management tools, Ajenstat said.
"The hardware vendors have definitely had a loud voice in this space," he said. "Our approach is a more ecosystem-centric approach."
Microsoft is working closely with its hardware partners to ensure that the features in Windows 7 mesh with what the OEMs and chip makers are putting into their products, said Jason Leznek, group project manager for Windows 7.
Currently in the release candidate phase, Windows 7 is due for general availability in October.