Microsoft Chases Windows 7 Battery Drain Problems

By Stuart J. Johnston | Posted January 29, 2010

Microsoft officials confirmed Friday that they are looking into reports of radically shortened battery life on some laptops after installing Windows 7.

Although a few users reported similar problems during Windows 7's beta test cycle last summer, particularly with some netbooks, wide availability of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) new OS following its October consumer release seems to have triggered significantly more cases.

"I upgraded my laptop from XP to Win 7 and my battery life went from about 2 hours to 30 minutes. The system shuts down (hibernates) without any warning. The powercfg-energy report shows the battery stored less than 40% of the Designed Capacity the last time the battery was fully charged," one frustrated user, going by the screen name "dabruton," said in a post on Microsoft's TechNet user forums on Jan. 1.

"The battery life dropped to almost nothing after doing a clean install of windows 7 (it was fine before that, about 1.5-2 hours)," echoed another poster with the screen name "jw98029."

How big the problem has become is unclear at this time. The TechNet forum dedicated to Windows client issues had 100 posts during January alone. Many received a Windows 7 error that said, "consider replacing your battery."

Quite a few complained that their laptop batteries were permanently damaged by the drainage problems after upgrading to Windows 7.

"Good job Microsoft, you just cost me (and almost all windows 7 laptop owners) their battery!! Now what are you going to do!!?" asked one annoyed user with the screen name "DanLee81."

The problems appear to not be subsiding, either.

"A couple weeks ago, we could get 45 minutes without worrying, now [we're] down to 15 or so," one user, dubbed "newjones", reported on Thursday.

For its part, Microsoft says it's working on the problem.

"We are investigating this issue in conjunction with our hardware partners, which appears to be related to system firmware (BIOS)," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com. "The warning received in Windows 7 uses firmware information to determine if battery replacement is needed."

It's unclear how many users might potentially be affected. Microsoft announced on its fiscal second quarter financial call with analysts on Thursday that it has now sold some 60 million Windows 7 licenses.

There are some indications that the issue could potentially affect many, though. A Google search for the error message "consider replacing your battery" found nearly 73,000 entries.

"We are working with our partners to determine the root cause and will update the forum with information and guidance as it becomes available," the Microsoft spokesperson said.

The latest battery problems were first spotted by The Register Friday.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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