“XP can be ‘green’ too” – if you use Group Policy!

Going “green”, making sure the computers and monitors are off when not needed, and thus reducing emissions and energy bills is something most enterprises want to achieve. Group Policy seems to be the best technology to do this. I tried to find a PowerShell alternative but so far was not successful.

In all the discussions last month about whether Vista is more capable of saving energy than XP one thing was missing: although XP indeed has power management settings – they are local and thus cannot be set centrally across the enterprise. The only solution which I see is using some kind of group policy extensions product to distribute the settings.

For those who missed the story: on March 21 Microsoft announced that a UK research company came to the conclusion that “Vista’s power management features could help a business with 200 PCs to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 45 tons a year and cut the annual energy bill for each PC by £46 ($90).” On March 26 Gartner published their response, saying that XP can be as green as Vista and that “just about the same savings in electricity and carbon dioxide emissions can be made with XP-based systems by tackling people and process issues through user education and motivation”. (Here’s the coverage in ComputerWorld, bink.nu, Neowin, and by Paul Thurrott.)

For some reason I don’t believe that “user education and motivation” is the best way to change desktop settings across the enterprise. Group Policy, SMS, various desktop management suites, PowerShell, etc. – are much more effective. Vista provides for automated centralized power management by exposing power options via GPOs. For XP, this is also possible but you will need a third-party tool.

One of the ways to do that is using a product like Quest’s Group Policy Extensions (I am sure other products with similar functionality exist – I am just more familiar with Quest’s product line) so you specify the timeouts after which the monitors needs to be switched off, the computers need to hibernate, etc. and link these policies to the sets of users/computers to which they need to apply (I assume different departments might want different settings):

 Power Management settings in Group Policy Extensions

I am not sure everyone has electricity bills as high as in UK but it looks like a technology like that might actually easily pay off within the first year of its use.

P.S. I tried to look for an alternative to Group Policy and to find a way to change the settings via PowerShell (thinking we could add this to computer management pack for PowerGUI) but failed. It looks like neither native cmdlets not WMI expose the settings and one would need to work directly against the registry for each remote computer. Any suggestions are welcome!

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4 Responses to ““XP can be ‘green’ too” – if you use Group Policy!”


    • 2 IT Chap May 26, 2010 at 10:36 am

      A basic, but functional and simple, way to achieve power management in a domain network is to simply use Microsoft’s own powercfg.exe as a command line login.

      Details are listed in http://support.microsoft.com/kb/915160

      I use this in my network of 60 client machines and can veyr easily and simply manage the power aspects as I please, and without the need to install any new software or introduce any non-standard ADMs to my GP.

  1. 3 Jim Clark October 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Data Synergy (www.datasynergy.co.uk) PowerMan Power Manager allows is more advanced than EZ GPO. It allows the administrator to combine group policy based control of power management with enterprise wise monitoring. This can be used to fine tune policies and measure improvements.

    The product supports numerous policies to manage power management including the ability to configure policy when nobody is logged on. It also supports scheduled wake/sleep and adds power-off and logout as a supported idle actions.

  2. 4 Dmitry Sotnikov October 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Cool! Thanks for the links!


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