Microsoft uses green tactics to push Vista

As the green enterprise sheds its do-gooder rep in favour of becoming a must-have business case, companies like Microsoft are capitalizing on the feel-good, cost-saving benefits of green IT in an effort to push its usual agenda.

Jill Feblowtiz, program director for energy wholesale strategies with research firm IDC’s Energy Insights branch, said that companies tend to fall into several categories when it comes to green initiatives. The first, according to Feblowitz, is those who only adhere to green practices out of legal compliance or a sense of corporate responsibility. The second are those who commit to improving their internal policies, such as more energy efficiency in the workplace, telecommuting, and recycling programs. The third type is those who extend their green strategy to their external operations, including changes to the standards for suppliers and trading carbon credits to offset manufacturing emissions. The last is comprised of companies that actually manufacture greener products, she said.

Microsoft is trading on the green trend in yet another push to get its users off the soon-to-be-defunct Windows XP. The IT community has been in an uproar since Microsoft’s recent announcement of the June date that heralds the end of XP sales.

In a pro-Vista move, the company commissioned a report from Info-Tech Research on the power consumption of Windows XP versus Windows Vista, which was released today, and announced Vista’s energy-efficient supremacy over XP when it comes to sleep mode. The default settings of Vista put the system into sleep mode much faster and automatically than XP triggers its own standby mode.

Jennifer Colasanti, a research consultant with Info-Tech Research, said that tests were run on two different laptops and two different PCs in several different states. “The advanced default settings had a definite impact on power consumption. If your business is running a fleet of Vista PCs, then you can reduce your carbon emissions by half,” she said.

The cost savings would work out to about $11 per desktop per year, and $5 per laptop per year. “If you have 5,000 computers in your enterprise, that could be up to $47,000 in savings annually,” said Colasanti. The survey also found that the operating system’s AERO graphics did not have a significant impact on energy usage.

When it came to the question of Microsoft using “green tactics” to get more users onto their newer OS, she said, “It should be included in your decision. Not as the only reason, but it can be a factor.”

Microsoft refrained from testing the energy efficiency of its products against any competing products (such as Maci OS X or a Linux-based system) because “(XP and Vista) are the two most important products in the marketplace,” said Elliot Katz, senior product manager for Windows Client with Microsoft Canada.