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MSFT Investigating Windows 7 Battery Problems

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 34 comments

Microsoft is investigating the mounting reports that Windows 7 is having a negative effect on laptop batteries.

Users on Microsoft forums have been complaining that after installing Windows 7, their battery life has decreased significantly and in some cases is suggesting they actually replace their battery.

Threads relating to the issue have been active since before Windows 7 went to general release. Folks running the Windows 7 RC began posting in June 2009 and the threads are still active today.

ComputerWorld cites a Microsoft spokesperson who yesterday said the company was investigating the issue. "We are investigating this issue in conjunction with our hardware partners, which appears to be related to system firmware (BIOS)," the spokesperson said, referring to the firmware that boots the PC and initializes the hardware components. "The warning received in Windows 7 uses firmware information to determine if battery replacement is needed."

Worryingly, there seems to be a sizable number of forum posters who believe Windows 7 has permanently damaged their battery. They claim to have tried reverting to XP or Vista or charging their battery in another OS or when their machine is off but report no improvement.

Read more here.

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  • 15 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 3, 2010 4:24 PM
    indian-artI think Ubuntu is way better.

    Sure, I'm all for pro Linux (esp. Fedora and open SUSE, imo Ubuntu is over rated). HOWEVER, MOST people DON'T know how to install, troubleshoot, upgrade,etc Linux systems. Not to mention that they don't wan to re-learn software that already works fine for them (ie Photoshop -> GIMP). Also don't even mention the inability of Linux to play recent games.
  • 15 Hide
    zorky9 , February 3, 2010 4:31 PM
    If it's a BIOS issue, it doesn't matter what OS you're using.
  • 10 Hide
    tenor77 , February 3, 2010 4:59 PM
    Software cannot kill your battery. It can mis-report the charge if not done properly. Li-Ion's are a finicky tech.
    Most people kill their batteries by treating them like NiMh or NiCads.

    They're right about one thing though. Once the batteries damaged, it's gone for good.
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    indian-art , February 3, 2010 4:20 PM
    I think Ubuntu is way better.
  • 15 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 3, 2010 4:24 PM
    indian-artI think Ubuntu is way better.

    Sure, I'm all for pro Linux (esp. Fedora and open SUSE, imo Ubuntu is over rated). HOWEVER, MOST people DON'T know how to install, troubleshoot, upgrade,etc Linux systems. Not to mention that they don't wan to re-learn software that already works fine for them (ie Photoshop -> GIMP). Also don't even mention the inability of Linux to play recent games.
  • 15 Hide
    zorky9 , February 3, 2010 4:31 PM
    If it's a BIOS issue, it doesn't matter what OS you're using.
  • 3 Hide
    HolyCrusader , February 3, 2010 4:35 PM
    I seem to recall a similar problem back a few years ago with certain Intel-based laptops. I'd have to dig through old articles, but it seems that it had something to do with an Intel driver not working properly and causing the laptop to not throttle-down like t should have been. The OS in question was I think XP, but may have affected Vista as well.
  • 4 Hide
    maestintaolius , February 3, 2010 4:48 PM
    So, what I gather from this is that there's nothing wrong with the battery but rather win7's interpretation of a BIOS or board value or how it's reported to win7. Not terribly surprising, getting CPU-z and Speedfan to read things properly off some boards (*eyeballs Gigabyte menacingly*) can sometimes be an issue.
  • 1 Hide
    wolflive , February 3, 2010 4:50 PM
    I just upgraded to win7 pro and got a little red X on my battery too. This is kind of an odd issue. Then again my laptop came with Vista.
  • -1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 3, 2010 4:57 PM
    Hmmmm.....a power hungry version of Windows 7? Is it an accident or is it by design?
  • 10 Hide
    tenor77 , February 3, 2010 4:59 PM
    Software cannot kill your battery. It can mis-report the charge if not done properly. Li-Ion's are a finicky tech.
    Most people kill their batteries by treating them like NiMh or NiCads.

    They're right about one thing though. Once the batteries damaged, it's gone for good.
  • 0 Hide
    pbrigido , February 3, 2010 5:22 PM
    Windows 7 Battery Problems? Correct me if I am wrong, but how could any OS damage a battery?

    Is this just another case of idiotic consumers?
  • 2 Hide
    duckmanx88 , February 3, 2010 5:44 PM
    i doubt win7 broke my battery. im sure toshiba just made it really crappy considering it has a 1 star rating out of 200 reviews. mine lasts about 3 minutes after a full charge
  • 1 Hide
    opmopadop , February 3, 2010 5:46 PM
    From memory that Intel Laptop battery problem was related to the USB drivers always providing full power.
  • 5 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 3, 2010 5:46 PM
    pbrigidoWindows 7 Battery Problems? Correct me if I am wrong, but how could any OS damage a battery? Is this just another case of idiotic consumers?
    The control of many devices is being moved from the BIOS to the OS as it has the potential for better power management. This also means that an OS failure can potentially damage the hardware if the hardware doesn't have built-in safety overrides. A laptop I have has a broken ACPI implementation that can result in the OS being unable to activate the CPU fan. Luckily the CPU has thermal limiting else it would fry.

    When you consider how many devices now support firmware updates it's easy to see how significant damage can occur from malware. I think the only reason malware doesn't take advantage of these vulnerabilities is because it's more profitable for the black hats to keep your system running (spam serving, keylogging, etc.) than it is to disable it.
  • -1 Hide
    pooflinger1 , February 3, 2010 5:54 PM
    I too seriously doubt that it is Windows 7 that is damaging the batteries. Unless it has control over the ammount of voltage/amperage supplied to the battery, I don't see how it could.

    The average LI-Ion battery can maintain full capacity for about 300 - 500 charge/discharge cycles. The way most people use them, that's around a year. And people tend to be on a 3yr replacement cycle with the equipment, yet never replace the battery. Just like a car battery goes bad after time, so does a laptop battery. http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm
  • 1 Hide
    skittle , February 3, 2010 6:01 PM
    indian-artI think Ubuntu is way better.

    Linux is great and all (I run debian squeeze x64) but its no where near the quality of windows yet. As an example, flash still doesnt work properly and there are no official AMD 3D drivers. Also getting surround sound to work properly with ALSA is a pain in the ass. That being said, my linux desktop on an older 7200rpm drive boots up just as fast as windows 7 on a new OCZ vertex AND is ~20% faster in x264.
  • -1 Hide
    skittle , February 3, 2010 6:04 PM
    Just to add to that last comment, when I say flash doesnt "work properly" I mean it crashes... HARD... and takes firefox (and chrome) with it. I realize its an adobe problem... but thats the kind of thing you have to deal with on linux.
  • 0 Hide
    theuerkorn , February 3, 2010 6:26 PM
    It's just normal, after the initial love affair with all new (a.k.a. hype) it's now time to realize it's not perfect either. Wait a bit more and problems like this will start little rants and stuff Vista had to endure. (add the graphics incompatibilities along with a non-functional Firewire driver and many issues currently under the radar)

    In the end, Windows 8 is going to fix all the problems Win 7 had. Right. (Meanwhile, Win 7 will have a bad reputation, while actually having improved significantly.)
  • 0 Hide
    cscott_it , February 3, 2010 6:31 PM
    Weird. I've had no problems at all with my wife's G71G.
    I wonder if it's just certain models and motherboards.
  • -5 Hide
    hakesterman , February 3, 2010 6:35 PM
    I think Windows 7 was rushed out too fast, it wouldn't be haveing these problems if they would of
    tested the software better and perhaps longer...............
  • 0 Hide
    war2k9 , February 3, 2010 7:20 PM
    I upgrade my laptop from vista to win 7, I seen slight improvement on battery life over vista.
  • 2 Hide
    Tomtompiper , February 3, 2010 7:26 PM
    skittle, don't know what distro you are using, but my flash never crashes and the AMD/ATI drivers are getting better now they are open source. I would give PCLinuxOS a go it might surprise you.
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