Windows 7 promises reduced power consumption


By building more intelligence and tools into the operating system and working more closely with its hardware and software partners, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is promising significantly reduced power consumption when its Windows 7 OS debuts this fall.

The improvements in Windows 7 build on the significant strides around power management made in Windows Vista said Elliot Katz, Windows Client product manager for Microsoft Canada. It starts with making entering and exiting sleep mode more reliable, which along yielded sizable power savings.

"With Windows 7 we've gone a lot further, focusing on core innovation to enable energy efficiency, when both in use and in idle mode," said Katz. "And not only have we focused on the OS, but we continue to be engaged directly with our hardware and software partners to continue to improve the efficiency. The whole world is looking at being more energy efficient, and with Windows 7 we've taken some strong steps on delivering that from an OS perspective."

For the channel, Katz said there is a strong opportunity around helping businesses leverage many of the power savings in Windows that the typical SMB might not even know exist. Group policies, for example, are one way of generating power efficiencies that many smaller organizations often overlook.

"Irrespective of size, but more importantly in the SMB, the partner play is helping customers understand what the impact of rolling-out energy group policies can be," said Katz. "Partners play a huge role in helping to educate customers, and it's a focus of our partner communications and education."

Katz said power savings can be realized with Windows 7 in a number of areas. New IT management and troubleshooting capabilities have been built into the OS to address power consumption, and new and existing tools help IT managers effectively deploy power management policies and troubleshoot problems. The power config tool has been expanded with the ability to produce reports on common problems, gather information on the network, and predict which PCs will be running into issues. Diagnostics can also help determine which devices or applications are causing power troubles.

"Notebook batteries get less efficient over time, and this report can determine when batteries are degraded enough to need replacement," said Katz.

Most businesses will likely be updating their PCs to the new OS over time, and while these new tools will work in a mixed-OS environment, to leverage many of the advanced features, Katz said Windows 7 is necessary.

Additional power savings have been realized through more efficient idle-time management. Even between keystrokes, Katz said there's idle time that can be leveraged. The screen is dimmed, processors idled and hard drive speed reduced during idle times to save power.

"PCs are idle for long amounts of time and short amounts of time, and idle efficiency is critical because that's where you gain a lot of power savings," said Katz. "When it's one of those days where you have lots of meetings and you forget to bring your power supply, these kinds of features really help your battery go a lot further."

With much of the power savings in Windows 7 relying on Microsoft's partnership with its ecosystem partners, Katz said the latest hardware will definitely generate the greatest power efficiency. But even PCs purchased within the last few years, and upgrading from Windows XP or Vista, will see savings.

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