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Downloading software online generates eight times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than buying the same product through a retail store, according to a recent study from Microsoft. The greatest impacts come from disk transportation and packaging, including the DVD, plastic and cardboard packaging and related print material, as well as the customer’s travel to the store.

Research partners Accenture and ESP Environment and Energy studied the lifecycle of 10 million copies of Microsoft’s Office 2007. The company made the product suite available for digital download in January 2007, but estimates that 80 percent of its sales were still made through traditional stores.

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