Is Windows 7 wrecking notebook batteries?

Microsoft has begun an investigation into a possible problem with Windows 7 that might cause poor battery life, and even degradation of the battery itself, on certain notebooks.

Microsoft has begun an investigation into a possible problem with Windows 7 that might cause poor battery life, and even degradation of the battery itself, on certain notebooks.

The idea that a bad OS/BIOS combo could be damaging a battery is very worrying because it opens up the possibility that this issue might not just be annoying, but could also be dangerous.

The issue, which was first reported by users on Microsoft's TechNet forum, seems to have been around since June of 2009, and not only affected the release version of Windows 7 but also the beta and Release Candidate builds of Windows 7. Users are presented with an error message that tells them that they should "Consider replacing your battery" because "There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly." Along with the error message, users are also claiming that battery life is being cut short. Some are going as far as to say that their machines are virtually unusable when powered by the battery.

If all that wasn't bad enough, some users are going as far as to suggest that the problem is in fact physically damaging the battery because reverting to a different OS doesn't restore the battery to its previous state.

Ironically, Windows 7 was touted as improving battery life.

The word from Microsoft so far is that it is investigating the issue and believes that the problem is down to specific system BIOS versions.

Note: I'm also getting unofficial word from several OEMs is that investigations are underway.

I've spent a fair bit of time going through the reports of this problem and it's hard to lock the problem down. The diverse range of makes and models of affected notebooks would, at first blush, seem to rule out this being a BIOS issue. However, a range of different systems can have the same, or very similar, BIOSes. Also, when it comes to features such as power management, BIOSes share a lot of commonality.

It is disturbing to hear reports that this problem seems to actually be wrecking batteries. I've not seen this personally, but several readers have told me that after experiencing this problem, even installing a different OS (earlier version of Windows, or even Linux) doesn't improve battery life.

As I've already said, I've not handled any affected systems, but the idea that a bad OS/BIOS combo could be damaging a battery is very worrying because it opens up the possibility that this issue might not just be annoying, but could also be dangerous.  

I'll keep you updated of any additional news on this matter.

If your notebook affected? Let me know!

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