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Windows 7 'Battery Failure' Bug Under Investigation

Microsoft is responding to complaints from some Windows 7 users about a message that suggests impending battery failure when using a laptop.

The message reads as follows: "Consider replacing your battery. There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly." A Microsoft spokesperson stated by e-mail on Tuesday that Microsoft is aware that some users have received this message even when there may not be a problem with the battery.

The company is working with its hardware partners on the matter.

"The warning received on some computers using Windows 7 uses firmware information (information about hardware status provided by the PC itself) to determine if battery replacement is needed," the Microsoft spokesperson wrote. "We are working with our partners to determine the root cause of what appear to be erroneous warnings and will update the TechNet forum with information and guidance as it becomes available."

That Microsoft TechNet forum indicates that the problem was reported back in June. The release-to-manufacturing version of Windows 7 may have had the bug, as well as the beta version. The forum thread continues into the present, filled with tales of woe from owners of laptops with various hardware configurations.

Some Windows 7 users have reported not just getting a false message about the battery being faulty. Instead, users are complaining in the TechNet forum about batteries that no longer fully recharge after they upgraded their machine to Windows 7. In addition, these users have tried rolling back to the previous operating system after experiencing the problem, or they tried installing a new OS (such as Ubuntu), but the problem continued in many cases.

"Yes, I also tried to go back from Windows 7 to Vista but the battery problem remained," stated eduj55 on Jan. 31. "I even tried the operating system Linux (live CD) and I got the same result. Consequently, I believe that Windows 7 changed some kind of messages inside my batteries, which means that a patch would be needed to reset it."

"This behaviour happens in ALL OSes after Windows 7 damages the battery, not just within Windows 7," stated DanLee81 on Feb. 2. The TechNet thread began back in June with an initial post by DanLee81.

Users are pointing fingers at Microsoft and Windows 7, probably because the issue affects disparate systems. However, Microsoft apparently is narrowing its focus on firmware as the origin of the problem.

"We are investigating this issue in conjunction with our hardware partners, which appears to be related to system firmware," stated Anthony Mann, Windows client IT pro audience manager for web forums, in a Feb. 3 TechNet forum post. "We are working with our partners to determine the root cause and will update the forum with information and guidance as it becomes available."

Microsoft highlighted Windows 7's power conservation benefits in a January 2009 "engineering Windows 7" blog post, describing advancements in "reducing idle power consumption and supporting new device power modes." Microsoft has also claimed that Windows 7 can help extend laptop battery life under certain conditions, according to a "Power Management in Windows 7 Overview" white paper, which can be accessed here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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