Users have complained of battery issues -- including premature warnings that the power is exhausted, as well as more dire demands to replace the battery -- for months, long before Windows 7 went final.
[ Get InfoWorld's 21-page hands-on look at the new version of Windows. | The real-world state of Windows: Check out InfoWorld's live Windows Pulse monitors of users' app preferences and PC configurations. | Looking for the ultimate laptop? It doesn't exist yet, so InfoWorld designed the perfect notebook. See how close your laptop comes to our dream machine. ]
Microsoft claimed that the problem was in the Windows 7 tool that decided when the battery had been drained, or was unable to hold a charge. "We are investigating this issue in conjunction with our hardware partners, which appears to be related to system firmware (BIOS)," a Microsoft spokeswoman said today, referring to the firmware that boots the PC and initializes the hardware components. "The warning received in Windows 7 uses firmware information to determine if battery replacement is needed."
A very long thread on Microsoft's support site dedicated to Windows 7 battery problems kicked off in early June 2009, and remains active; more than a dozen new messages were posted on Tuesday, for example.
While some users on that thread agree with Microsoft that the warnings are spurious, others believe that the new operating system has permanently crippled their batteries.
"I have tried charging the battery while the computer is off or in another OS, and it does not work," said someone identified as "DanLee81" today. "It will charge for a few minutes, then stop. The battery will say it's full when it actually only has a few minutes of charge, and when you take out the A/C, it will either last for a few minutes, or completely shut off your laptop. This behavior happens in all [OSes] after Windows 7 damages the battery, not just within Windows 7."
Others reported that their batteries underperformed, even after they abandoned Windows 7 and returned their notebooks to running Windows XP or Vista, or switched to Linux. "Rolling back does not work either," said "Dreklia" in another message on Tuesday. "I feel rip[ped] off!"