Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Let's talk about Green....

There sure are a lot of vendors selling “Green” solutions now. I’m all for helping save the earth, I mean I live here too and would hate to suddenly find my house underwater when all the glaciers melt, but many of these solutions don’t really make sense once you start peeling back the onion so to speak. In some cases they actually cost more and while that may be worth it from an ecological perspective, there are also some solutions that both help with the environment and have a good return on investment.

Recently I was a at a windows 7 event and got to hear Microsoft talk about the new features in Windows 7. They have some cool things like the ability to snap two windows side by side, which is neat.  You can quickly see the desktop by going to the bottom right of the screen and you can even have machines auto connect to the corporate network anytime that they are on the internet using something called “Direct Access”.

It all sounded pretty cool, but one thing they mentioned that sounded a little too good to be true was that by upgrading from XP to Windows 7, you could reduce your power costs by 40%. Since I tend to be a little skeptical l figured it was just the regular power saving options like turning off the screen and windows 7 just made it easier. Frankly I thought it was a marketing gimmick.

I figured, why not test it? We had a spare machine and one of our interns had time to experiment with it and ran some tests. The first test was windows XP running idle for 24 hours, running a video player for 24 hours and running a benchmark test tool for 24 hours.

Next he upgraded the OS to windows 7 and reran the tests. Sure enough the same tests on XP used 3-5 times more power than on Windows 7. I was shocked.
Now does that mean you should just go upgrade to windows 7? Microsoft claims most companies will save between $19 and $45 per machine. Our tests confirm $23, so it’s definitely believable since our power is fairly cheap compared to some of the higher cost places. While this is cool, one of the best things for us is the fact that less power used means more battery life.

While the cost of windows 7 can be high, unless you have an agreement that gives you free upgrades, I wouldn’t recommend switching just for the power savings on this. The ROI based on just power is too high, it is nice to see that the numbers Microsoft gave us are real and not some magic soft costs number that you will never really see.

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