Saturday, January 30, 2010

Microsoft Says Battery Woes Not Caused By Windows 7

Microsoft's Stephen Sinofsky says Windows 7 isn't degrading PC batteries. Rather, deeper detection in Windows 7 is flagging batteries performing at or below 40 percent of capacity. Vista and Windows XP do not have the battery detection provided in Windows 7. Some users are continuing to dispute Microsoft's stand on Windows 7 battery problems.

Battery problems on Windows Relevant Products/Services 7 machines are not caused by the operating system Relevant Products/Services. That's the position of Stephen Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, in a long posting Monday on the Windows engineering blog.

"At this time," he wrote, "we have no reason to believe there is any issue related to Windows 7 in this context." He acknowledged reports in the press and in forums about faulty battery warnings and batteries failing. "In every case we have been able to identify," Sinofsky added, "the battery being reported on was in fact in need of recommended replacement."

'Accurately Detected a Failing Battery'

Sinofsky said that the company has been contacting customers who report issues in forums, monitoring customer Relevant Products/Services-service Relevant Products/Services communications Relevant Products/Services, keeping in touch with PC makers, and utilizing opt-in, anonymous "telemetry in Windows 7" to keep track of the situation. In all cases investigated, he wrote, "Windows 7 has simply accurately detected a failing battery."

One factor Sinofsky emphasized is that there is a new battery notification in Windows 7 not available in Vista or Windows XP. The notification, with a battery meter icon and the message "Consider replacing your battery," appears when the battery is performing at 40 percent of its designated capacity. He noted that some customers upgrading a PC to Windows 7 did not know the battery was degrading until 7 offered this new level of notification.

He pointed out that PC batteries, through the hardware Relevant Products/Services and the BIOS firmware, offer several read-only fields of information Relevant Products/Services about the battery, including manufacturer, serial number, design capacity, and last full charge capacity. Sinofsky added that this information "is read-only and there is no way for Windows 7 or any other OS to write, set or configure battery status information."

'The Answer Is RIGHT THERE!'

But user complaints continue to populate the Microsoft Relevant Products/Services support forum, where the issue has been reported in a variety of configurations and conditions since June.

On Monday evening, a commenter named DanLee81 posted Sinofsky's assertion about the read-only fields, and then insisted that "the answer is RIGHT THERE!" The user contended that the design capacity value "with all problematic batteries is an unpopulated field," and that, instead of that missing variable, the OS should be reading the total capacity variable, for which every battery provides a value. "That is why the false alarm is appearing," he wrote.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that he has had no battery problems with his two Windows 7 netbooks. In general, he said, Microsoft appears "to be stepping up to the plate" on this issue by acknowledging it and trying to track down any issues.

He noted that, unlike Apple, Microsoft only controls the OS, not the hardware, and if there is a problem, "it's possible they're only part of the problem, not the entire problem."

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