Partnering With Customers – and Competitors – on Green IT

Posted by Steve Lippman 
Director, Environmental Engagement Strategy

As part of our capacity-building efforts with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits, Microsoft recently partnered with TechSoup Global to present a set of webinars with green technology guidance specifically tailored to small and large NGOs. These webinars are one small part of a larger proactive campaign to help all our customers—large and small businesses, government agencies and others—optimize the energy efficiency and environmental sustainability of their information technology.

Advances in both hardware and software have dramatically increased the energy efficiency of computing. The leading energy-efficient laptops now entering the market use less energy than a single compact fluorescent light bulb. However, with more than 1 billion computers on the planet and 250 million new laptops, desktops and servers deployed each year, the IT industry must continue improving the energy efficiency of its products.

We have improved the efficiency of the Windows operating system with increasingly sophisticated energy-saving features and are building new energy efficiency requirements into our design process for future operating systems.


With Windows 7, we made improvements to the core operating system and worked with industry partners to improve the energy efficiency of the whole platform. Recent tests showed Windows 7 is 20 percent more efficient than Vista, which itself offered significant energy savings over Windows XP. Windows 7 also provides useful tools for IT professionals to deploy power management policies and troubleshoot energy efficiency problems on computers across their organization.

As more computing moves to Internet-based, cloud-computing platforms, Microsoft is paying close attention to the energy use and environmental impacts of our data centers. By using cutting-edge sensor and monitoring equipment; high-efficiency container-based data center designs; and air cooling systems that reduce the need for mechanical chillers, Microsoft’s new data centers consume 50 percent less energy for the same level of output than data centers built just three years ago. Our newly opened data center in Dublinis officially recognized by the European Commission’s Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign as a best practice for energy efficiency.

We’ve created a number of software tools to help customers evaluate and improve the energy efficiency of their IT. For instance, our Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit includes a “power savings calculator” that provides a report of potential savings from adopting energy-efficient computing technologies such as enhanced power management and virtualization.  So far, over 690,000 Microsoft customers and partners have downloaded and used this toolkit. In partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Microsoft released a configuration pack for System Center Configuration Manager 2007 users to assess their client settings against ENERGY STAR recommendations.

Microsoft is sharing best practices and technical guidance for energy efficiency not only with our customers and partners but also with our competitors. One way we are doing this is through our participation on the board of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which brings together industry leaders to help design more efficient computing systems and promote the use of advanced power management settings. By 2010, CSCI’s goal is to reduce global computer CO2 emissions by 54 million tons a year, equivalent to the annual output of 11 million cars or 10 to 20 coal-fired power plants. Microsoft helped develop the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres, a voluntary set of guidelines designed to help organizations implement energy efficiency best practices and use energy-efficient equipment. And Microsoft Research is supporting cutting-edge research projects to advance energy efficiency in computing and publicly share the results.

For more on Microsoft’s green IT guidance and offerings, please visit

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