Microsoft Looking Into Windows 7 Battery Issues

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Microsoft says it's investigating reports of notebook PC owners encountering battery life problems after upgrading their Windows XP and Vista machines to Windows 7.

After installing the Windows 7 upgrade, many customers have seen their machine's battery life dwindle significantly, even when working with a freshly charged battery. They've also been confronted with the Windows 7 warning message: "Consider replacing your battery. There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly."

Customers have been complaining about this problem on Microsoft's TechNet forum since last June, when Windows 7 was still in Release Candidate stage. Some forum posters claim that their notebook batteries have been rendered completely unusable after installing the Windows 7 upgrade, and that downgrading back to an earlier version of Windows doesn't fix the problem.

Ironically, Windows 7 was supposed to extend battery life on notebooks. During the Windows 7 beta, Microsoft said it has discovered that faulty drivers in Vista notebooks had prevented them from entering a quiet state, and that this caused Vista notebook batteries to drain faster than normal.

Microsoft confirmed the existence of the problem late last week, and the company will provide "information and guidance as it becomes available," a spokesperson said Monday in an e-mail.

Microsoft is working with its hardware partners to determine the root cause of the issue, which appears to be related to system firmware (BIOS), the spokesperson said.

Judging from the TechNet forum, however, customers aren't buying Microsoft's explanation that the issue is BIOS-related. Many have noted that the problem appears to affect notebooks from all major vendors, and some claim their vendors have informed them that it's a Microsoft problem.

Meanwhile, there have even been rumblings in the TechNet forum about a class action lawsuit against the company. Google queries for the term "Consider replacing your battery" have reportedly skyrocketed as frustrated customers have searched for answers.

Microsoft's mantra with Windows 7 has been that customers asked for -- and received -- exactly what they wanted with the OS. The big question now, of course, is why it has taken Microsoft so long to respond to this particular issue.

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