Microsoft Blames Your Laptop—Not Windows 7—For Battery Issues

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Blames Your Laptop—Not Windows 7—For Battery Issues

After upgrading to Windows 7, some users saw a new warning message suggesting that they need to replace their laptops' batteries. Some screamed "bug," some shouted "conspiracy,' but Microsoft denies that anything's wrong.

In an entry on Microsoft's MSDN blog, Windows division President Steven Sinofsky explains that the warning message is a new feature in Windows 7 and that's why some users are seeing it for the first time on laptops which appeared to run just fine under a different OS:

To the very best of the collective ecosystem knowledge, Windows 7 is correctly warning batteries that are in fact failing and Windows 7 is neither incorrectly reporting on battery status nor in any way whatsoever causing batteries to reach this state. In every case we have been able to identify the battery being reported on was in fact in need of recommended replacement.


He continues to say that this has all the "appearance of Windows 7 'causing' the change in performance, but in reality all Windows 7 did was report what was already the case."

It's not their OS, it's your laptop's lousy battery. Or at least that's the story we're sticking with for now. [MSDN Blog via CNET]

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Battery care and feeding...

Let the battery discharge completely the first time you use it. When you get a new laptop, or just a new battery, plug the computer in and charge the battery fully. Unplug the laptop and run it on battery power until the computer warns you that it's about to run out. This calibrates the battery—essentially "teaching" it how much charge it can hold.

Step 2

Avoid frequent charging and discharging. A typical lithium-ion laptop battery has a life of about 300 to 500 charge "cycles," according to researcher Isidor Buchmann of Unplugging the computer, running it on battery power for a time and then plugging it back in constitutes one cycle. This does not mean running the battery all the way down each time—Buchmann advises that partial discharges are preferable to full ones in everyday use—but it does mean that it's better to run the laptop unplugged for an hour than to do so for 10 minutes, then plug it in for 5 minutes, then unplug it for 15 minutes, plug it back in for 10, and so on.

Step 3

Allow the battery to fully discharge about once every 30 cycles. This will help recalibrate the battery.

Step 4

Leave about a 50 percent charge on the battery if you plan to store the laptop for more than six months. Apple Inc. says that long-term storage of a fully discharged battery may render it unable to recharge at all, whereas storing a fully charged battery for an extended period can reduce its capacity.

Step 5

Avoid overheating. There is a direct correlation between the temperature at which a battery operates and the degradation of its charging capacity. PC Magazine advises laptop users to avoid operating the computer on soft surfaces that trap heat, such as blankets, upholstery or—somewhat ironically—your lap. Use a lap desk or cooling pad when you have the computer on your lap. If you usually use the computer on a desk, make sure the surface of the desk is free of dust.