Vista has the Power: Part Two of Two

Last week I introduced new Power Management policy settings included in Windows Vista.

In the first of a two-part series, I wrote about Button, Hard Disk, and Notification settings. This week, I complete my review of Power Management by writing about the last two categories: Sleep; and Video and Display settings.


As a reminder, these categories and their policy settings are located under Computer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesSystemPower Management. These policy settings are Windows Vista policy settings and apply only to computers running Windows Vista. Also, these policy settings can co-exist with policies applicable to clients earlier than Windows Vista. Operating systems other than Windows Vista will ignore the settings.


I’ll start with the Sleep Settings category and its policy settings. As I wrote in part one, most of the Power Management policy settings are sub-divided into Plugged In or On Battery policy settings (Plugged In or On Battery actually appears in the name of the policy). This gives the category 12 policy settings total; 6 for Plugged In and 6 for On Battery. These policy settings give you the ability to adjust how Windows Vista behaves prior to entering, during, and waking from sleep mode. I’ll begin by providing the name of each policy setting and a summary of its intent.


The policy setting Turn on Applications to Prevent Sleep Transitions, when enabled, provides application and services a way to prevent Windows Vista from entering sleep mode (included but not limited to Hybrid Sleep, Stand By, or Hibernate).


Enabling the policy setting Specify the System Hibernate Timeout allows you to enter a value, in seconds, to indicate how much idle time elapses before Windows enters into Hibernate. Another related policy setting is Specify the System Sleep Time out, only the value entered (in seconds) indicates how much idle time elapses before Windows enters sleep mode.


The policy setting, Require a Password when a Computer Wakes works exactly as it is written; its prompts the user for password when the computer wakes. It is also important to know this is the default behavior for Windows Vista, even with the policy setting set to Not Configured.


Windows Vista includes a “Hybrid Sleep” mode where Windows Vista saves the system state and additional information to a “hiberfile”. Windows uses this file when it wakes from Hybrid Sleep mode. When enabled, the policy setting Turn Off Hybrid Sleep prevents Windows from creating the “hiberfile”, which disables “Hybrid Sleep mode.


The last setting in this category controls the behavior (or state) of a computer running Windows Vista while in sleep mode. Most recently manufactured computers conform to the specification know as Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, or ACPI. This specification is the most popular standard for power management for computers. The ACPI specification describes standby states when a computer is sleeping. A portion of the specification labels these standby states as S1, S2, S3, and S4 (you can find more information on ACPI and the specifics to these states at When you enable the policy Allow Standby States (S1-S3) when sleeping, Windows Vista may use standby states S1 - S3 while in sleep mode. If you disable the policy, Windows Vista only allows the computer to use hibernate (standby state S4) as a sleep state.


The last category in Power Management is Video and Display Settings. This category has four policy settings total, two when Plugged In and two when On Battery. The first policy setting controls a new feature included in Windows Vista: Turn Off Active Display Timeout. Active Display Timeout, on by default, extends the time Windows waits to turn off the display if you repeatedly turn the display on by using the keyboard or mouse. Enabling this policy will turn off the Active Display timeout resulting in Windows turning off the display once the idle timeout time is exceeded, which is controlled by the remaining policy in this category. The Turn Off the Display policy setting, when enabled, allows you to enter a value in seconds indicating the maximum allotted idle time before Windows turns off the display.


That wraps up Power Management Group Policy settings. Two blog entries, five categories and 34 policy settings later, it should be easy to see how a combination of these policy settings could save your company hundreds to thousands of dollars. It may be a good time to review how you could implement some of these policy settings and savings you may gain.


NEXT WEEK: Security Policy Settings: User Account Control


Mike Stephens, Technical Writer, Group Policy


Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is a tonne of information available on Vista power management, from whitepapers to videos to blog

  2. Eric says:

    First comment!!!!!  First comment on the GPTeam blog!!!!!

    Ok, now that I have that out of my system……I have a few questions on using the power options.  To minimize user impact, I install updates, push out software, run AV scans, etc in the middle of the night.  I can use Wake on Lan to turn systems on and perform these tasks to ensure systems are on, but if they are already powered on and in a hibernate/sleep state, will this work?  Obviously it is much quicker to bring a system out of hibernate/sleep than it is to power it on and/or log in, but if the administrative tasks won’t wake the system up, then I could affect my end users at the start of their day.

    Has your team done any testing on these type of administrative tasks that normally get performed in the middle of the night to see how the GP Power options function?



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