Though still just in beta, Windows 7 is already accumulating kudos around the industry (or the blogosphere, at least) as being faster and more stable than Vista with Service Pack 1. The developers at Microsoft clearly put a lot of thought into this new OS, and one important feature that wasn't ignored is power management. This trait should be of interest to companies looking to reduce their energy bills as well as to mobile computer users who need to squeeze as much battery life out of their machines as possible.
Indeed, according to Dean DeWhitt, a member of the Windows 7 kernel program management team, "In engineering Windows 7, our goal is to deliver the capabilities and features users want from a Windows PC while reducing power consumption over previous releases."
Notably, the burden of reducing PC energy consumption doesn't fall squarely on the shoulders on the operating system; hardware has a part to play. "Windows is responsible for managing the power state of many devices, including the processor, hard drive, and display, [but] the remaining devices and software running on the computer have just as much (if not more) impact on power consumption and battery life. This is a challenge for everyone contributing to the PC experience," DeWhitt writes.
The role of the OS, specifically, is "making smart trade-offs between performance and power consumption based on usage and allowing the end-user to dictate power management policy through power plans and settings," DeWhitt writes. "The challenges in this area are to properly manage device power and to ensure new Windows features are as efficient as possible in the amount of system resources (CPU, memory, and disk) they use."
Windows 7 still retains the power management feature through the Power Option in the control panel, through which users can adjust power settings to meet their preferences. You can set the display to power down during periods of inactivity. You can put the system to sleep. You also have the option to custom tailor a power plan to meet your specific needs, reaping power savings and prolonging battery life.
New to the OS, though: The developers have been "focusing on reducing idle power consumption and supporting new device power modes," according to DeWhitt.