Users scoff at Windows 7 battery problem denials

Microsoft has concluded that last week's story about batteries failing due to a Windows 7 bug is bunkum. Sadly, it doesn't seem to have satisfied the users, who are complaining louder than ever. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers try to figure out why.

By Richi Jennings. February 9, 2010.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention GNILLEY: gaming by yelling...
Cade Metz kicks us off:

Various laptop owners ... have said that after upgrading their laptops to Windows 7, they've seen a decrease in battery life. ... [It's] displaying the message "Consider replacing your battery" even though their batteries are brand new ... [or] in tandem with sudden battery life reductions.
Windows and Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky says the notification tool is operating as designed. ... Windows 7 taps into circuitry and firmware in today's laptop batteries that reports power capacity. ... [It] then calculates how much this figure has decreased. ... Windows 7 is simply providing information that previous OSes did not. ... Microsoft says it has not found any reports where the hardware was in fact new.

Emil Protalinski adds:

PC batteries inherently degrade in their ability to hold a charge and provide power, and ultimately batteries must be replaced. Windows 7 ... calculates the percentage of degradation from the original design capacity; the threshold is set at 60 percent degradation.
[The] message does not exist in Windows XP and Windows Vista, so many users would probably not have been aware of their batteries degrading. This would also explain why some users were seeing the battery indicator in Windows 7 builds prior to the RTM release while others only saw it in the RTM.

Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky taps his "collective ecosystem knowledge":

Windows 7 is correctly warning batteries that are in fact failing and ... neither incorrectly reporting on battery status nor in any way whatsoever causing batteries to reach this state. ... While we’ve seen the reports of new PCs receiving this notification, in all cases we have established that the battery was in a degraded state.
Only a very small percentage of users are receiving the ... notification, and as expected, we are seeing systems older than ~1.5 years. ... We performed a thorough code-review and verified that ... [it's not] capable of modifying battery status information.

But kev99sl says Microsoft is focusing on the wrong thing:

There is one very clear behavior being reported, and one supposition ... [you] have chosen to focus on the supposition rather than the actual behavior. ... The behavior - which I assure you is easily reproduced - has nothing to do with the "new" or "not new" status of the battery. Rather, it has to do with a marked difference between relative battery life when running Windows 7 vs. any other recent variety of Windows.
Find several HP Pavilion dv9000t notebooks, with Intel processors, and purchase new batteries for each. ... Clean-install Windows 7 64-bit on half of the machines, and continue running Windows XP 32-bit on the other half. ... I assure you that the problem will make itself evident very quickly ... the Windows 7 batteries will exhibit marked wear and lower on-battery time.

And an exasperated Dan Lee can't believe what he's reading:

The answer is right there! ... Design capacity with all the problematic batteries is an unpopulated field. The design capacity will either read, 0, some random number, or unknown. Instead of the design capacity variable, Microsoft should be using the Total Capacity variable. This variable is populated on every battery.
That is why the false alarm is appearing. ... Whatever Microsoft is doing with this 0, null, unknown value for the Design Capacity variable, it is definitely affecting the battery in some way (causing false alarms).

Jini Shans draws a parallel with Toyota recalls:

I think either DanLee81 / kev99sl is true. I dont think M$ can say it's not a Win 7 issue. ... It means either M$ and their OEMs dont' want to take up this issue, which might become Toyota issue. ... So, M$ come out clean of this issue.
Why it's coming in a battery which's less than 1 yr old? Either Win 7 is draining battery or calculating it wrongly. In either case, it's still an issue with Win 7 and on M$ plate.

This one will run and run, but let's finish with Richard Frisch:

It is my perception that in the past month or two some change to Windows 7 has significantly reduced battery life on my ASUS Eee PC 1000HE. Before this "update" it ran for 6-8 hours. Now 4 hours is the best. I do not believe the battery's capacity declined this quickly. I believe it something that Microsoft did in a Windows 7 patch.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

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