It was recently reported that, following criticism from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Microsoft’s Xbox One would have its system software updated so that energy-saving options are displayed during the consoles initial setup.

In short, by default the Xbox One is set to ‘Instant-on’. What this means is that the system will download game updates and the like whilst the console is in a ‘switched off’ state. Moreover, it helps to decrease console startup time. Unfortunately, by burying the option to change this setting amidst a selection of menus, many gamers have been getting caught out and have seen their electricity bill significantly increase due to the fact that their Xbox One is not truly switched off in this state. Because it is downloading updates it requires electricity, and so too much energy is being wasted by Xbox One systems across the world.

By moving the choice to switch between Instant-on and Energy-saving mode to the initial setup menu for new buyers of the console, Microsoft have made a step in the right direction, but the Natural Resources Defense Council argues that the tweaks don’t go far enough.

In a recent blog post, a member of the NRDC outlined a number of important points. Take a look at the screenshot of the new initial startup menu below and it’s hard to argue with what the NRDC senior scientist, Noah Horowitz, is saying. Noah points out that the vocabulary used on the startup menu is likely to encourage gamers who are perhaps uneducated on the consequences of their choice to choose the Instant-on option because it sounds like the one with more benefits.

Microsoft isn’t doing itself any favors with the wording on the Energy-saving option, which notes that the console will have “slower startup time” and that gamers will “get interrupted for updates”. That doesn’t sound particularly enjoyable, therefore many will likely opt for the instant-on option, meaning that there is no point in moving this option to the startup menu if you’re just going to encourage consumers to use what was already being used before they had the choice.

The council rightly suggests that Microsoft must go further by providing “neutral text to describe the Energy-saving and Instant-on options” and that if users do not make a choice, then the system should default to Energy-saving as opposed to Instant-on (which it currently does).

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to defend Microsoft in this situation. Whilst it’s encouraging to see them putting the Energy-saving/Instant-on decision front and center, they’re almost mocking themselves by attempting to persuade gamers to make the decision that has negative consequences on the world around us.

Whether or not Microsoft will indeed go ahead and make further changes to the system remains to be seen. The company has gained a strong reputation of late for responding to customer feedback, but they seem pretty adamant about wanting consoles to be Instant-on, so will they really make the decision for the greater good? Ultimately, if they do they will be further commended by the press and gamers alike, who will recognise them for their charitable ways, but if not they are walking on very thin ice. There’s no middle ground, but either way the choice that matters is ultimately down to you. Armed with this information, if you’re an Xbox One owner or you know someone who uses one, think about which option you’re using. I’m not here to make up your mind, but Microsoft are giving it a good go, so resist, and make the right choice.

  • Jay Deez

    Ummm. I thought they did resolve this? Are you totally clueless?? Can the bias journalism end? The PS4 has the same ‘always on’ state. I don’t hear you saying anything about that. Absolute last time I click this site.

    • Hey Jay, while I can’t force you to do anything, I urge you not to leave our site. We have no bias in our journalism. The article writer Steve is our Xbox guy, so he usually focuses on Microsoft, good or bad.

  • Rene Tetrault

    Yeah that extra $5 is hard to swallow….

  • joe

    This article is stupid

  • summi2

    Why this site is sony fanboy nonsense. Ps4 is exactly the same with its late to the party resume feature. Nice work sony fanboy journalists…you have made even playing video games an idiotic console war of hate.

    • Samuel Sanchez

      The numbers they use for power consumption assumes everyone has a kinect and it’s at the max rate of consumption.

  • Charles – The Great and Powerf

    I think this argument is lame. They knocked a 3rd of the energy use off. Hush. I see that the verbiage they use on the setup screen is not so great, but I don’t think it matters. Its called Energy-Saver mode. Can people not figure out that Energy-Saver mode saves energy. Come on. There’s no advantages to Energy Saving Mode. So they don’t list any.

  • poneros

    You can half the standby power usage by turning off kinect voice power-up. Given this is a choice, and the population of the world doesn’t own an xbox, this is a none issue.

  • Steve Wright

    For those of you that claim we are ‘SONY fanboys’, I wanted to write an article about this for the Xbox One because of how Microsoft have responded to the NRDC’s issues. SONY have yet to so there’s little to report. We are all very much neutral when it comes to the console manufacturers.

    • Samuel Sanchez

      Let’s be honest this is a non issue. The numbers used themselves are wrong and biased. Using every Xbox one sold as using standby mode with a kinect. When the vast majority of Xbox ones sold don’t even have kinect. The actual power consumption is much lower then this article pretends it to be. The Xbox also does not pretend to be an energy star rated appliance instead it’s nominal power consumption on standby mode is no worse then the majority of cable boxes. The issue is not even a problem because the vast majority of people didn’t even notice a change in thier electric bill over the last year. It’s a trumped up issue without a problem. Furthermore Sony just added standby mode to thier systems severly upping it’s power consumption but you don’t report that do you?

  • Mike McKee

    This is the most ridiculous non-issue I’ve seen in a long time. The NRDC is a far-left extremist environmental group that periodically contrives a “crisis” to get attention (which equals funding for them). They are a single-issue organization that can only benefit by exaggerating issues, and doesn’t have to worry about being objective (or wrong). They literally trade in creating enviro-panic for money.

    I know if you’ve been “educated” in the public school system any time in the past couple of decades you have been led to believe that any action by a human being risks destroying the planet, but relax and pick up your controller. It isn’t true. I find it amazing that people who sneer at “big oil” and their alleged agenda never think twice about the vast array of Eco-advocacy organizations, global warming pushers, and their ilk. They don’t trust anything that is published that might have been financed by an oil company, but swallow hook, line, and sinker whatever nonsense comes from enviros whose entire livelihood depends upon fomenting panic and ongoing “crises.”

    When the environuts start shutting down wind turbines because of the millions of birds that they chop up every year, then I might listen to them. But until they actually display such objectivity, I don’t want to hear from them.

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