As Windows Vista launches today, the Green Party is worried about the prospect of people upgrading to the new operating system and dumping their old computers on rubbish tips.

In a statement , the Green Party said that the launch of Windows Vista would result in older computer hardware being rejected by users, thus increasing landfill volumes and damaging the environment.

The party said Windows Vista 'forces' users to upgrade their hardware to be compatible with all its features. Instead of rushing out to buy Windows Vista, the Green Party is advising people to look towards free software, such as Linux, in order to limit energy consumption and further environmental damage.

"Windows Vista requires more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment," said Derek Wall, one of the party's principal speakers. "Free software can run on existing hardware, reduces licensing costs for small businesses and affords important freedoms to consumers."

The Green Party is worried that the hardware requirements of Windows Vista will work against some of the recent efforts aimed at reducing the amount of wastage headed for landfill sites, such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which was introduced in the UK on 1 January.

Siân Berry, principal speaker of the Green Party, said: "There will be thousands of tonnes of dumped monitors, video cards and whole computers that are perfectly capable of running Vista. Future archaeologists will be able to identify a 'Vista Upgrade Layer' when they go through our landfill sites."