With growing populations come growing demands for resources, and energy is far and away the one of them that humanity is struggling to come up with and allocate fairly here in the 21st century. Much has been made of how power grids are under real strain and particularly in dense urban areas. We know full well that there’s no stopping progress, and so the electricity demands of the digital age need to be accommodated in step with that progress.
There are plenty of things your devices – and the data centres behind them – do on a daily basis that adds to a larger ecological footprint because of the amount of power required for them. The data centre part of that is front and center with how those of us here at 4GoodHosting can relate to all of this and in the same way any other good Canadian web hosting provider would. We certainly know how power-intensive data centers can be, and how it’s hard to cut back on power usage when so much of what we rely on is brought forth from those data centers.
Which is why this news about Windows Insider build 22567 is noteworthy enough for us to make a blog entry about it. System updates are well know as being major power eaters and there’s a reason you are prompted to have your notebook plugged in before beginning one. What this new Windows 11 update will do is schedule updates for times when the local power grid in your area is drawing energy from more reliable sources, and avoiding times when it is getting them from more traditionally harmful sources.
Definitely qualifies as ‘smart’ technology and something that is in line with what most people put a lot of importance on these days, so let’s look at in greater detail.
This will be made possible by Microsoft taking regional data on carbon intensity from sources that publish large-scale electricity use-rate data, and all of this is only possible if your laptop or PC is plugged into an outlet. It can be overruled by choosing to install updates immediately by navigating to Settings > Windows Update and then selecting to check for updates.
The reason it’s important to use sustainable power sources as much as possible is because many electrical grids are still powered by fossil fuel sources. What this does now is make it so that Windows 11 now prioritizes update installs to proceed only at times when it detects larger amounts of clean energy sources are available. Wind, solar, hydro – it could be any of them.
What you can look for is a small message in the Windows Update section of your settings reading ‘Windows Update is committed to reducing carbon emissions’, and if you do see it that means that your PC is able to make the determination with information provided through the web and different monitoring resources available. But it can be possible in some instances that the carbon data won’t be made available to the device for any number of reasons.
Microsoft has said there will be ongoing efforts to promote better accessibility for that, including working with new partners as needed.
Positive Step Towards Curbing Power Consumption
As mentioned, there is no getting around the fact that modern technology uses a lot of power. Our drive to constantly improve and build upon previous technology means this is a difficult reality to get around. Technology is here to stay, and so any initiative taken to build in environmentally-conscious policies and features into products developed by these manufacturers definitely is a show of good faith.
Having an OS that is geared for sustainability on its own without user input required to undertake it is a huge plus, and hopefully this is the start of a larger trend that will be seen right across the computer manufacturing industry. Let’s keep in mind that the number of people across the wider market that will use Windows 11 is only going to grow bases on older operating systems starting to be phased out as they become obsolete.
In many ways Microsoft may deserve more props than other Big Tech manufacturers, as this new effort is on top of many other notable pledges towards sustainability and ethical practices. Examples of this are using recycled marine plastics to create peripherals like mouses and we can also look at the adaptive controllers for the Xbox console series. The implementation of inclusive features across its entire hardware and software range to help the disabled community is another example of their benevolence.
We can all do our parts too, and one thing I’ve been saying to many people lately is to consider turning down the brightness on your display. Many people will be shocked to see how bright it was, and enjoy the less intense (and power saving) setting a lot more based on how it is more comfortable for their eyes. Win-win.