Readers critique a plan to green Microsoft

Yesterday, I put up a post urging Microsoft to force computers worldwide into a higher power savings mode in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The article was featured on Slashdot.org, and the discussion over there is very lively. We’ve received several great comments on the piece, so we’re highlighting a few here.  Ric L., who ...

606106_computer-emissions.thumbnail5.jpg
606106_computer-emissions.thumbnail5.jpg

Yesterday, I put up a post urging Microsoft to force computers worldwide into a higher power savings mode in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The article was featured on Slashdot.org, and the discussion over there is very lively. We've received several great comments on the piece, so we're highlighting a few here. 

Ric L., who writes from a Microsoft.com email address, notes, as I did in my post, that Microsoft Vista runs efficiently right out of the box.

This means hundreds of millions of computers will blissfully sleep their unused hours away every day…"

Yesterday, I put up a post urging Microsoft to force computers worldwide into a higher power savings mode in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The article was featured on Slashdot.org, and the discussion over there is very lively. We’ve received several great comments on the piece, so we’re highlighting a few here. 

Ric L., who writes from a Microsoft.com email address, notes, as I did in my post, that Microsoft Vista runs efficiently right out of the box.

This means hundreds of millions of computers will blissfully sleep their unused hours away every day…”

Again, I applaud Microsoft for including this software in their next update, but it will be many years before hundreds of millions of computers are upgraded to Microsoft Vista. More power could be saved by updating today’s machines.”

Sean F., who develops software for air-traffic controllers, assures me that those systems don’t run on Microsoft Windows:

You mentioned that critical systems shouldn’t have this hibernation mode go into effect. I thought I’d mention for clarity, that most critical systems do not use Microsoft software. I personally like MS, I’m not bashing the company or its products. I use them all the time, including right now. But they are very buggy, and most critical systems require more reliable software and hardware.

I don’t run any Unix or Unix-variant software at home, but that is what most critical systems run on. I should know, I develop software for the FAA for air traffic control centers, your prime example of a system that shouldn’t go into hibernation. Just a friendly email to give you some information. I completely support your idea for MS to do some code changes, just wanted you to have more accurate data. 

Read more after the BREAK

By far the most common criticism of the argument is that users, and important systems like databases and servers, would be catastrophically disrupted by this change to their computer’s settings.

Charlie H. points out that:

This was obviously written by someone who does not have a lot of experience with supporting Microsoft Windows… Power saving modes on a large number of machines can cause system lock ups and even hardware failures. Who do you think is going to get the call when someone looses 4 hours of work because their machine went into hibernate and then hung and wouldn’t come out? Microsoft? Or will it be your already overworked and underpaid network administrator?”

Bruce W. is frustrated with the lack of power-saving options on his two home computers:

I don’t want to wait the 2-3 minutes each time for the machine to boot. I have tried hibernation, but even that requires some patience especially with the vast amounts of RAM in computers these days…Is there a way to set the computer so that it will “wake up” to perform any scheduled task, and then promptly go back to sleep when it is done?”

David G. suggests that we could solve this problem by targeting only PCs used in the home.

Maybe they could send the update only to Windows Home edition PCs….”

Marc A. has another power-savings plan for Microsoft:

Perhaps Bill Gates should start handing out some of his very charitable donations to fund a global wind power initiative to help clean up some of the power consumed by his products?”

Jeff G. notes that more computing power will always require more energy:

If we want more powerful computers, they’re going to require more power. Just saying they shouldn’t use that much is nice… but without accounting for the reality of it, it’s just whistling in the dark.”

Finally Gene K. points me to an article he wrote just a few weeks back hoping that Microsoft incorporates energy saving technology into Vista. Looks like Microsoft heard you, Gene.

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