Though free, EZ GPO doesn't equip admins with the tools to rouse computers from their slumber for patching and backup. Admins would have to configure machines to apply software patches and updates as soon as they become available on the network, such as during the user log-in process. Windows Task Scheduler also can wake sleeping computers at a designated time to download and install updates. Learn more or download EZ GPO at Terra Novum's site.
If you've made the move to Vista, however, you don't need a tool like EZ GPO. Unlike with Windows XP, you can control Power Management in Vista directly through Group Policy, using Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, or even Windows 2000 Server.
Vista trumps XP's power management features in another way: It's machine-based rather than user-based. Any change in settings, whether made by a user or by Group Policy, will be applied globally to the system no matter who is logged in. They will also be applied if no user is logged in. Learn more about managing Vista Power Management [PDF].
Middle of the road
There are options available for organizations that want more control and ease-of-use than what the free options provide -- but aren't in the market for a new, full-on PC power management suite. Among them is an offering called PC Powerdown. Notably, Verizon first deployed EZ GPO as part of a company-wide attempt to curb energy waste but found it needed greater capabilities, such as Wake-on-LAN (WOL) capability. WOL rouses sleeping PCs for patching and backups in the middle of the night, thus reducing delays and interruptions for end-users during the work day.
Among its other features, PC Powerdown provides a real-time view of which machines are connected to the network and what power state they're in. From there, an admin can allocate computers to groups, then apply different power schedules to each group. That way, for example, employees who regularly arrive at nine and leave at five can have a power scheme suited to their schedule, whereas end-users with erratic work schedules or are on the late-night shift will have a different scheme.
PC Powerdown also generates reports as to approximately how much an organization is saving through PC power management.