Yeah, yeah, yeah – how can an operating system be environmentally unfriendly I hear you ask? User friendly, security friendly, productivity friendly even, but environmentally unfriendly? Well that is exactly the claim that I am prepared to make considering reports from the likes of ZDNet regarding the sorry state of battery life on mobiles running the Microsoft flagship Windows OS. I rather like the comment of Rob Bushway, a blogger at Gottabemobile who says “And don't even get me started on battery life with Vista - certainly not a mobile friendly experience there at all. When a consumer has to buy an extended battery to get what they use to get out of a standard battery, something is really wrong.”
And there lies the rub, more power consumption to do essentially the same thing as XP but with a prettier user interface. Are we really that shallow and uncaring that we are prepared to hammer a few more nails in the coffin of Planet Earth just so as to enjoy an opaque windows effect and a 3D windows manager as offered by Aero Glass experience? The answer would appear to be a resounding yes, which is really sad news indeed. Especially when you consider that the Aero UI does nothing to actually add to productivity at all, in fact there is a good argument to suggest it does exactly the opposite unless you happen to be running a top of the range laptop with the very latest in graphics acceleration hardware fitted.
The point being, turn off the Aero interface and all of a sudden the power management modes much heralded by Microsoft start living up to the promise and actually deliver a battery life that is better than that achieved on most XP installations. And how many people are going to turn off Aero, having paid an arm and half a leg for the privilege of having it? Exactly none would be my guess. If they were aware of the battery life impact in the first place they would have opted for the much cheaper Vista Home Basic and enjoyed the added bonus of getting all the security and under the hood OS improvements without it making their couple of year old laptop respond like a duck wearing flippers trying to swim through treacle lake.
The reality is that end users have been taken in by the Vista hyperbole, spent good money on pointless graphics and memory upgrades, and are quite simply not going to be made to look like the idiots they are and admit they were duped. Microsoft itself might not be coming out and putting its hands up to admit that Aero is a power hog that should be banished, but delve into the Vista power management settings and that admission is actually already there. Use the power saving profile and guess what, Aero gets disabled. What a surprise. Not!
Some big manufacturers have understood the impact upon the productivity bottom line, and having made the switch to Vista have switched off the Microsoft power management settings in favor of their own bespoke versions. HP and Lenovo are already shipping Vista laptops with more user and environmentally friendly power management routines; others are likely to follow real soon.
So why am I making such a big fuss about the environment impact here? Because more notebooks than desktops are sold in the retail market already, and by the end of this decade this pattern will be repeated across the whole PC market according to most analysts worth listening to. According to LocalCooling.com more than 30 billion kilowatt-hours of energy is wasted because we do not shut down our computers when we’re not using them, and by improving the efficiency of computer usage we could collectively save over $3 billion in energy costs! “The CO2 emissions from just 15 computers are equivalent in energy terms to the gas consumption used by one car” LocalCooling.com claims, continuing “if you leave your computer on 24/7, that’s the equivalent of a whole barrel of oil every 90 days.”
So, in the interests of reducing global warming, helping to prolong the life of Planet Earth and making my laptop a whole lot more efficient, I am switching Aero off. How about you?
Good job I didn't get started on the not so small subject of the Vista OS retail packaging and the negative impact that has on global warming as well, or this might have turned into something of a rant ;)