The last few weeks, reports have been circulating that notebooks that seem to perform perfectly adequately suddenly, under Windows 7, begin displaying alerts that users should consider replacing their battery. The warnings have lead to speculation that Windows 7’s battery-monitoring tools might be inaccurate or, worse, that some issue with Windows 7 might be causing notebook batteries to fail prematurely.
Microsoft says it has been seriously looking into the issue, and has come to a preliminary conclusion: Windows 7 isn’t destroying notebooks’ batteries, and the battery warnings are legitimate.
“For the past week or so we have been diligently working [..] to see if there is anything in Windows 7 we need to address regarding this issue,” Microsoft write in the Engineering Windows 7 blog. “At this time we have no reason to believe there is any issue related to Windows 7 in this context.”
Microsoft believes the confusion is stilling from a new notification in Windows 7 that puts an alert in front of the user when a notebook battery is performing at 40 percent or less of its designed capacity. Windows XP and Vista did not issue battery warnings at that level; Microsoft says the new behavior is by design and intended to give consumers plenty of heads up that their notebook battery is reaching the end of its life. And Microsoft says the notification logic is solid: it has identified no cases where the alerts have been issued for non-degraded batteries.
Obviously, folks who moved to Windows 7 by buying new hardware aren’t likely to have run their batteries into the ground yet, so the majority of users seeing these errors are folks with existing notebooks upgraded to Windows 7. The result is a perception that the batteries were operating fine under WIndows XP or Vista, but suddenly need to be replaced under Windows 7.