Gartner: XP can be 'green' too

Microsoft has been touting Vista's power management features

Microsoft might have tooted the public relations horn about Vista's power-saving features, a Gartner analyst said this week, but businesses would be smart to look at ways they can save electricity on their XP-powered PCs rather than worry about what the new OS offers.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the results of tests by UK-based PC Pro Labs that said Vista's improved power management features could reduce carbon emissions for a business with 200 PCs by 45 tons annually, and save the company $US90.50 per PC per year in electricity costs.

"Before embarking on an expensive Vista upgrade to achieve green benefits, businesses should spend a much smaller amount on a broad-based education and training program to help staff understand why saving energy is important to the business," Gartner analyst, Simon Mingay, wrote in a research note.

"Our research shows that most users respond very positively when education and behavioural changes are part of a broad program to save energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions."

Mingay said businesses could reap about the same savings in electricity and carbon dioxide emissions with XP-based systems by educating users on that operating system's management features. He recommended that companies remind users to shut down PCs after hours, and show them how to remove screen savers and put monitors into stand-by mode after 10 minutes of inactivity.

"People and process changes are harder to make than technology changes, but go much deeper and will have impacts beyond any Windows upgrade," Mingay said. "Businesses shouldn't justify upgrading to Vista just because of improved power management."

Microsoft has posted guides to using Windows XP's power management tools on its website, including one from 2002.

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Gregg Keizer

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