The Kermit Factor
Under the hood, Windows 7 does have some features that make it greener than its predecessor, Windows Vista. Today more than ever, companies are focused on reducing costs. The simplest way to reduce overhead costs is to reduce your power consumption. Windows 7 has this feature. It is a fact that Windows 7 is more energy efficient than Windows Vista and Windows XP.
Another great feature that will save your company money is the ability to manage power consumption via group policy, WMI, and a command line utility called PowerCfg. Running PowerCfg on a computer or pushing out to multiple computers will allow you to identify energy efficiency issues by tracing the computer for 60 seconds and saving an energy report locally. Additionally, you can also run parameters to find out why specific computers will not go to sleep. All of this control allows you to save lots of money in a corporate environment.
In order to save the most money on power consumption, you need to be able to push out changes at a global level. This is where Windows 7 shines by allowing you a more granular power management group policy setting. You can configure many power management settings, which in turn saves you money. Windows 7 has much more control than its predecessors ever had.
For corporate environments with a large mobile workforce, moving to Windows 7 will have significant advantages. First, Windows 7 now has a one-click wireless network that allows you to choose your network profile in one simple click. It is strikingly similar to Apple and a great benefit for roaming mobile users.
One of the most useful features is the much improved battery life. In several tests I performed using the same laptop; I was able to get better battery life on Windows 7 when running a DVD movie―up to 25% better. When I reimaged my laptop with Windows XP and Windows Vista, battery life suffered. As a bonus, I also enjoyed the 11 second boot time. So will you.
Microsoft introduces BitLocker disk encryption with Windows Vista. This first pass of BitLocker only allowed you to encrypt the volume that had the operating system installed. The service pack 1 release extended this and allowed you to encrypt other drives, as well. Windows 7 trumps that by allowing you to take advantage of its fast-food BitLocker edition that enables you to encrypt USB thumb drives and other removable media.
Another plus for mobile users is adaptive display brightness that allows you to dim the display after a certain amount of activity in addition to powering it off after 5-10 minutes of non-use. This can all be managed via group policy as well and is a huge cost savings considering laptop displays are roughly 30% of a laptops total power usage. In a corporate environment, this could add up to a significant savings.
Windows 7 also provides new power management features for wired and wireless networking. When users disconnect the network cable, Windows 7 can automatically place the adapter into a lower-power state. This feature is known as D3. This will save you up to .5 watts.
When you reconnect the network cable, Windows 7 will put the adapter back into a full-power state. This is called D0. Additionally, Windows 7 enables wireless network controllers to enter low power modes, as well. All of this functionality can be managed through power policy settings to give the IT administrator more control over power usage across the corporate environment. Windows Vista had this technology but the low power mode support was not there.
With Windows 7, Microsoft introduces Windows XP mode. Windows XP mode consists of a virtual based environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with service pack 3 (SP3). It will be available, for free (via download), to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. This is Microsofts answer to corporations who are reluctant to upgrade from Windows XP. If you have legacy applications that work only on Windows XP but you want to progress, Windows XP mode is your answer. You can run your legacy applications seamlessly while taking advantage of all the power consumption savings and other new features Windows 7 has to offer.
At the end of the day, laptop batteries will run longer and require less charging. Your corporate desktop machines will require less energy when being used and save you money while idle. Just these two simple updates will guarantee corporate rollouts by 2010. The kilowatts saved will alone justify the costs of the upgrade.
Steven Warren is a writer in sunny Florida. His articles and blogs have appeared on web sites such as CIOUpdate.com, Techrepublic.com, SearchTechTarget, Datamation, and DatabaseJournal. You can visit his web site at www.stevenscottwarren.com and follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/stevenswarren.