Study on Digital Distribution of Software Shows Significant Environmental Benefits

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The Official Blog of Microsoft's
Environmental Sustainability Team

Study on Digital Distribution of Software Shows Significant Environmental Benefits

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Through a campaign called Digital by Choice, Microsoft has offered its Volume Licensing customers the option to download Microsoft software rather than receive DVD/CDs.  To show the environmental benefits, Microsoft recently commissioned Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy to complete a carbon footprint Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study to compare the carbon footprint of traditional DVD/CD distribution with digital distribution of software to our business customers. The study, entitled “Demonstrating the Benefits of Electronic Software Distribution: A study of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction,” indicates that digital software distribution can reduce carbon emissions by 91% when Microsoft Volume Licensing customers switch to electronic software distribution.  In addition to the environmental benefits, Digital by Choice customers also receive faster access to software updates and save time and effort by no longer having to manage physical media.

The NRDC’s senior scientist, Noah Horowitz, notes from the study, “Until now, we had assumed there would be benefits in moving away from all the plastic and paper found in physical media, but we were in the dark as to how this would pencil out from a carbon perspective. The good news here is that despite the incremental energy use at the data centers, the results heavily favor digital distribution on all fronts—global warming, raw material usage, waste reduction, and energy consumption.”

To learn more about Digital by Choice and to download the white paper, click here

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