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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 ;)

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by RwCC
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Aye, it is consumerism gone mad. We want the pretty interface even if it means a slower and less productive experience or splashing cash on hardware we don't really need.

Madness.

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Oh, and I suppose that all those gamers with their laptops are being unenvironmental, too. Personally, I think it's the consumer's fault if they're using Aero. They can turn it off, they didn't have to upgrade to Vista, and they sure as heck aren't any different than the gamers who pay to enjoy graphics on their LCD screen.

I probably couldn't care less about the environment.

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The difference being that by upgrading to Vista, from XP, most laptop users will be using more power but with no performance or productivity advantage beyond a prettier interface.

So, costs more to upgrade to an OS that costs more in terms of electricity used, provides less uptime out on the road and does not increase producitivity. And that isn't madness?

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I totally agree with you happygeek. At the moment i can't see any problems with XP and from what i have seen from Vista machines that i have worked on XP is still by far superior. Ok so vista may be more secure but why couldn't microshaft simply SP3 XP and make that work better.

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My grandmother once told me "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all", but this time I'm compelled.

Author:

Have you provided any documentation as to power consumption Vista vs XP?

Have you provided any documentation as to power consumption Vista vs Kubuntu vs the New Mac OS? I know when the 686 Kernel wouldn't successfully run on my Kubuntu laptop I was averaging about 1 hr per battery (2+ hrs with XP), but didn't see any articles relating that poor battery performance to global warming.

Would you consider the demands of this new OS, providing they are substantially more than that of its counterpart are a natural part of software/hardware evolution?

Did you think about all the trees when you bought that new 600w power supply or hot new graphics card?

Below is a wiki entry showing the new features of Vista before I hear the "XP SP3" or "Same as XP but prettier" statements again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Features_new_to_Windows_Vista

I am honestly not trying to make enemies here, but if you are going to blog something please be fair, objective, and thorough rather than posting unsubstantiated and implicative propaganda.

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My blog posting points to ZDNet which has plenty of substantive links to reports of power consumption of XP and Vista.

My blog posting is an opinion based upon a news story, and while my opinion may well differ to yours that does not make it any less valid nor does it mean that it is propaganda.

No, I would not consider the demands of Vista as being part of the natural evolution of the OS, and I am quite aware of the features of Vista without relying upon Wikipedia as my reference - I have attended numerous Microsoft technical workshops, press conferences and one on ones during the development cycle and since release. heck, I have even been a Vista user since the earliest of Beta releases. None of which has changed my opinion that, when you come down to it, for your average user Vista is XP wearing a pretty dress.

And finally, this is a blog posting, nothing more. Read it, disagree with it, get over it ;)

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Also, note, that I am not advocating getting rid of Vista at all in my blog - but rather simply switching off the Aero UI for laptop usage to realise a double whammy benefit of longer battery life, better performance and less environmental impact.

Am I really such an evil blogger for suggesting this?

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Its not that I disagree entirely with your blog, but the way in which you presented this information does not say much for your quality of journalism or your interpretation of "fair".

Why couldn't you have written "Laptop power consumption contributing to global warming problem" instead of "Vista adding to global warming problem". Also consider the very limited (and quite contraversial) information we have today about global warming.

There are so many "what-if's" to insert into this that I honestly don't care to argue, I was just trying to establish a point.

Articles like this are what turn good websites like these into linux zealot jihad camps. I am/was just clarifying that Vista is not the only thing that consumes batteries and defending Microsoft for once.

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Nobody, least of all me, is suggesting that Vista is the only culprit. Merely that Vista, or rather the Aero UI, is causing laptops to consume more power than they need to be with no real benefit to the user. As a result, Vista is therefore contributing more to problems with the environment through excess power consumption when compared to XP.

I could have written 'laptop power consumption contributing to global warming problem' or indeed 'old fridges continue to damage the environment' but chose not to as neither are relevant to this blog posting which is about Vista.

The quality of my journalism is, obviously, very poor indeed. I suspect I will have to find another job as I doubt I will last long in this career. Unless you count 16 years as a successful, award winning, freelance technology journalist as any indicator of longevity. Nope, I must just have been very lucky not to get found out until now. I am off to submit my resignation to the National Union of Journalists and Society of Authors forthwith, and to tell the Science Museum here in the UK to cancel the contract for that new book they have just asked me to write for them... ;)

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Grats on the article. Like with Rosie O'Donnell and her recent episodes..."one man's trash is another's treasure", your performance is no exception to this rule.

Final argument which you refuse to accept and debate - You can blame Microsoft for destroying our environment just as much as you can blame Ford or other auto manufacturers because their customers go for a Sunday drive. Microsoft or Linux or OS/400 are all just as much contributors, your headline and content indicated Microsoft was more at fault however had no evidence to support it, not to mention the "global warming" references (which is neither confirmed or denied officially).

Since according to the zealots "Linux has the majority of the market in server platforms", wouldn't linux therefore be even more at fault for those servers that run 24x7 than a few Vista laptops? That is why your article is hypocritical, unfair, and biased.

Now I am officially done with the urination contest you have turned this into. I can live with the fact we cannot see eye to eye with this matter, at least though I have given the readers a little more insight to the world ouside the parents' attic and linux fanboy land.

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Look, I don't know where you get the idea from that I am a Linux fanboy. I have some Linux distributions running here to keep up to speed with things, but I am a Windows fanboy if truth be told.

As for the this turning into a urination contest, if that is the way you want to view it, then fine. However, when someone who disagrees with my opinion states straight off the bat that my posting is propaganda, questions my professional ability as a journalist and assumes that I am a Linux apologist, then I am going to argue my corner.

There is no point in continuing with this, though, seeing as you have painted yourself into a corner and are not prepared to actually enter into an adult debate. "Your headline and content indicated Microsoft was more at fault" being a prime example. My headline did nothing of the sort, it suggested Microsoft was at fault, not more, not less, just at fault, and my posting went on to explain why I believed this.

Readers might like to note that I am not the one who is making the personal remarks. To come in where you started, my grandmother used to say to me that someone with no substance in an argument will turn to personal abuse and is best ignored...

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I have not personally abused you, and yes when you publically release your opinions just might offend others.

You offended me in an attempt to defend yourself. This article is in my opinion propaganda and I'll stay behind that 100% and there is nothing you have said at this point to make me think otherwise. Yes, the content (or lack thereof), bias, and unsubstantiated implications of your article do indeed make me question your journalism skills.

I'm not flaming you, I'm just calling a dog a dog. The grandmother reference is true, and her saying is what I normally live by. I treat others the way I'd like to be treated, so if I produced this kind of quality-lacking article I would want someone to make me aware of it.

I just don't understand how you can single out Windows Vista which must have what, like 10000 copies in circulation right now, and saying it contributes to global warming...something that some argue doesn't exist!?!

Before I stated I was done with the urination contest, but I do welcome intelligent debate. So when are you actually going to sit down and write answers to all the questions I have answered thus far without using evasive techniques and getting straight to the point?

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Vista leads to global warming, everything else gives you cancer. I cant really see the point.

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