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The U.S. government's Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program has released an application called the EZ GPO tool, designed to simplify the job of allowing administrators to set power-management options for all machines in their organization.
GPOs (Group Policy Objects) are designed to allow the administrator a great deal of flexibility in controlling individual desktops in a domain, but one of their perpetual and constantly-assailed drawbacks is that power-management options cannot be set through GPOs. This makes it hard to configure power-saving functions globally, which means inconsistent desktop behaviors as far as power management goes, and wasted energy.
The EZ GPO tool works by providing administrators with a GPO interface for power-management settings on any desktop where it's installed. This allows, for instance, all the monitored machines to be put into sleep mode at a given time. The program makes all of its changes directly through the Microsoft APIs provided for both GPOs and power-management settings. It must be installed on the target system through a user account that has administrative privileges, but once installed it will work in the context of any user.
EZ GPO does its best to detect if a computer is capable of S3 standby mode (where power consumption is reduced to approximately 3 watts). Note that some computer BIOSes may advertise to the operating system that many of their motherboard components, such as the on-board USB controller, are capable of S3 standby mode when in fact they're not. For that reason, EZ GPO should only be used on machines that have been confirmed to fully support S3 standby mode.
The EZ GPO program and its documentation can be downloaded from http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=power_mgt.pr_pm_ez_gpo.
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!