Microsoft examining Windows 7 battery woes

After months of complaints that Windows 7 prematurely warns of dying notebook batteries, Microsoft is looking into the matter.

The issue typically lies not with the batteries themselves, but with how Windows 7 treats them. Users complain that Windows 7 prematurely warns them to charge or replace their batteries. These problems are documented in a lengthy thread on Microsoft’s official forums.


Microsoft told Computerworld that the issue is firmware related. “The warning received in Windows 7 uses firmware information to determine if battery replacement is needed,” a company representative said. Microsoft is looking for a common cause for all reported battery problems, but doesn’t have a time frame for a patch.

While most complaints say the problem is limited to annoying messages in Windows 7, others are reporting more severe effects. Some users say the problem affects their batteries’ ability to hold a charge or fully charge to capacity. In one case, Windows 7 reportedly caused permanent damage to a notebook battery, preventing it from charging properly even in other notebooks. Others have said that rolling the operating system back to Windows Vista or Windows XP hasn’t alleviated the problem.

Windows 7 battery issues don’t appear isolated to specific laptop manufacturers. Problems have been reported in notebooks from Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, among others.

That Windows 7 has a bug isn’t shocking, but it’s frustrating that these problems have been documented since June 2009, before Microsoft even released the operating system for sale. New reports continue to appear on Microsoft’s forums, so it seems unlikely that Microsoft is just learning about the problem now. Hopefully Microsoft’s remarks mean a quick fix is coming, because there’s nothing quite like the frustration of getting a brand new computer that doesn’t work properly.