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Microsoft driver bug saps Core Duo power

What about the consumer?

Buyers of Core Duo-based systems may still find themselves encountering this problem, however, as systems with Windows XP SP2 installed are already making their way to retail channels. When they do, they may find themselves implementing a fix, which is not necessarily easy for an amateur user, unless Microsoft makes it available as a "patch" that installs automatically.

According to Myers, Intel has asked Microsoft "to fix the registry to make the problem go away." In the meantime, he said, Intel is working to fix the issue by itself: "We are doing additional work on our end to see if there is anything we can do to overcome the same challenge Microsoft is having," Myers said.

If the patch can be as simple as a modification to the registry, the question arises why Microsoft hasn't issued a registry patch. We were not able to reach Microsoft representatives to answer this question and Myers said that he was unsure why the problem has not been fixed so far. "Battery life of Napa is a big deal for us. Microsoft said it is investigating and looking into this issue."

Still, Myers could not guarantee that there will be a fix for the current bug: "I am not certain at this point. But battery life impact is pretty dramatic and significant. It is something we have asked our engineers to put a high priority on. At this time, we may be able to solve the problem through drivers, firmware and software. If there is no solution from a software persepctive, we will look into hardware fixes for future platforms to prevent this issue."

In any case, one may wonder why Intel announced and apparently is shipping its platform, while this USB 2.0 issue still exists. According to Myers, Intel believes it has "done a great job job in reducing overall power consumption." The existing problem is "more of a USB problem" than a processor or chipset issue, he said: "It's an issue that we all [vendors] have to try to solve."

It's difficult for anyone to say, at this time, whether Intel or Microsoft is more at fault than one another; and in the end, the answer to that question may be insignificant. Not every element of hardware in an Intel chipset is made by Intel, and the efficiency of all that hardware is largely dependent on drivers in Microsoft Windows. But when an Intel chipset works well - as it so often does - the company rarely shares credit with its outside suppliers, the names of which are buried deep within Intel's engineering literature, generally within the small print, sometimes headed by a phrase such as, "If you have a problem, please call..." In the end, Intel's message remains "Intel Inside," as it should be. We're heartened to learn that the companies that so readily seize claim for any and all factors that lead to their success, now appear ready to be responsible for what could have become a monumental problem for Intel, had the ultimate cause not been discovered: We still have to verify this claim, but we remain optimistic that the solution Microsoft provides at this time will solve the power drain issue.

Our focus as technical journalists who would ourselves purport to be responsible, should not be upon the interests of corporations, or whether one corporation appears to champion over the other, or whether they look upon us favorably, or whether any of them are capable of saving face in the end. The principal issue of our concern is making sure this power drain does not affect you. When a customer such as yourself spends as much as $2,000 on a top-of-the-line system, you should be able to expect fair and honest treatment from the companies that profit from your generosity. We'll stay on top of this issue, continuing to test our systems and cooperate with manufacturers and developers, so that the responsible parties have a clear channel to you - their customers, and our readers - so that someone's inadvertent oversight doesn't impact your work and your life.