Microsoft Touts Vista Power Savings

In its latest bid to jump-start Windows Vista sales, especially to corporations, Microsoft this week touted what might be Vista's biggest advantage yet: Vista PCs will consume less electricity because of new power management features. According to Microsoft, Vista machines will automatically slip into a deep sleep after a set period of inactivity, saving from $55 to $70 in power costs annually per PC.

"We've done some calculations of power savings that we expect," Windows Co-President of Platforms and Services Division Jim Allchin told News.com in an interview last year. "When 100 million machines are running Vista, the power savings around the world \[will be\] unbelievable." Sleeping PCs also have a positive effect on the environment, requiring less cooling in office buildings.

This might all sound far-fetched, but Microsoft says that changes to power management in Vista make for a truly revolutionary improvement compared with Windows XP. Applications can prevent XP from moving into sleep mode, but Vista's power management technology and policies let businesses ensure their PCs are resting comfortably when workers are away. That kind of peace of mind is hard to put a value on.

Seriously.

Microsoft Ships New Vista APIs to Security Vendors

Microsoft says it handed over one of two new sets of Windows Vista security APIs to security vendors on Monday, enabling these companies to create products that can disable Vista's Security Center dashboard. However, Microsoft says it won't be able to release the second set of APIs, which will let security products interact more closely with the Vista kernel, until next year. Microsoft announced it would provide this first set of APIs last Friday in a bid to quell complaints that Vista was too restrictive to third-party security software developers.

The new code provides the opportunity for companies such as Symantec and McAfee to replace Vista's Security Center and its associated pop-up notifications with their own dashboards and notifications. Microsoft had originally hoped that security companies would stop proliferating competing security dashboards on users' PCs and simply link to Microsoft's solution. But amid many complaints and possible European Union (EU) intervention, Microsoft relented. However, Microsoft says a competing dashboard will be able to replace Security Center only if the vendor duplicates all Security Center functionality.

The second set of APIs could take as long as a year to develop. If that happens, Microsoft might include the second set with Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), which is scheduled for release in late 2007. Those APIs will let security vendors interact with the Patch Guard feature, which is available only in the 64-bit versions of Vista. Without having this second set of the APIs, security vendors are essentially locked out of the Vista kernel in 64-bit versions of the OS. Not having the APIs won't be a huge problem in the short term, but 64-bit Vista versions are expected to become more popular over time.

Though Microsoft appears confident that the changes it announced last week will appease both antitrust regulators and competitors, the security companies that publicly blasted Microsoft's changes to Vista are adopting a wait-and-see stance. "While we are encouraged by \[Microsoft's\] statements, the operative question is exactly when will the final detailed information be made available to security providers?" a posting on the Symantec Web site reads. And time is running out: With Vista due to be completed in the coming weeks, security firms don't have much time to finalize their Vista-compatible products.