Microsoft has been touting Vista’s new power saving features, saying that upgrading to Vista could easily save consumers and corporations $50 to $75 per computer per year in energy costs.
The question, though, is what marvelous new code makes this miracle possible. The answer? They fixed three stupid mistakes that have cost the world billions of dollars and millions of tons of CO2 in the past five years.
It is estimated there are 660 million computers in use worldwide, the majority of which run some iteration of a Microsoft operating system.
Generating the electricity needed to power those computers requires hundreds of power plants that produce billions of tons of CO2 emissions.
Many of those machines sit idle for 12 to 16 hours per day, burning electricity, but not doing any work, because businesses habitually leave their computers running overnight.
Microsoft has already announced that they will build aggressive, energy-saving technology into their next operating system, Vista. But that’s not enough.
These days, most computers are networked and can accept software upgrades over the Internet.
Also, most machines already possess software that allows them to run more efficiently—to “sleep” in a low-power mode when not in use—but few people enable this feature.
So, Microsoft should issue a software upgrade to every computer running Microsoft Windows worldwide.
It’s conservative to estimate that 100 million computers worldwide are running Microsoft software, currently running inefficiently, being used in non-critical applications, and ready to accept an upgrade.
The savings in energy, outlay and emissions generated by a hypothetical software update would be staggering. Microsoft estimates that it costs $55 to $70 per year for an average business to allow one computer to sit idle.
Multiply that times 100 million computers and you realize that the world spends $5 to $7 billion dollars every year powering inactive computers. Shifting 100 million computers into low-power sleep mode for 12 hours per day could easily cut worldwide C02 production by 45 million tons per year.
That is equivalent to wiping away a year’s worth of CO2 produced by every household and industry in a country the size of Ireland. Dozens of power plants would no longer be needed.