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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Microsoft looking into Windows 7 battery life failures

In this article Microsoft looking into Windows 7 battery life failures we see Microsoft is still having issues with their latest operating system running on laptops/netbooks. Back in 2007 one of my friends bought a Toshiba laptop with Windows Vista Home Premium. A few months I bought a Dell laptop with Windows Vista Home Basic. Because I could not get my new Dell laptop to communicate with my other computers on my home network, I reformatted the hard drive aand installed openSUSE Linux 10.3. It took me about a day to configure everything to work - networking with my other computers, printer on the Win XP/Linux box, 3D graphics card, sound and the power management system to provide the longest possible battery life - 4 hours. It would take about another month to get the wireless card working.

My friend stuck with Vista for 2 years. After about 18 months his Toshiba stopped working. By this time his warranty had expired so neither Toshiba nor Microsoft look at it without a charge. Toshiba advised him he needed to upgrade the power management controller BIOS to "fix" an issue with Vista. All he had to do was download the BIOS upgrade file and install it. This was not possible as the computer could not start. When I advised Toshiba tech support the computer wouls not start, the suggested we needed a new hard drive which costs approximately $250.00 plus labor.

My friend decided to let me try to revive the laptop. I started with an openSUSE 11.0 x_64 live CD. The laptop came to life immediately. However, it kept say there was an issue detecting the battery. I restarted the laptop without the live CD. After the normal boot setup and checking sequence, the "Windows" starting screen is displayed for a few minutes then the screen goes blank. Something I noticed was the laptop got so hot I could not keep it in my lap or rest my hand near the keyboard or mouse pad. I tried it again but without the battery. This time it would not even go through the boot setup/system check sequence.

The laptop was restarted with the live CD again but without the battery. Again it sprang to life. One thing became very noticeable - it ran very cool. Restarted once more with the live CD but with the battery. Again it started effortlessly and ran very cool. I allowed the battery to charge fully then disconnected the power supply. It ran for 2 hours before it shut down. I allowed the battery to recharge full again the restarted to Vista. Again, it went through the boot sequence and as soon as the "Windows" logo appeared. the screen went blank and the laptop got too hot to hold.

To make a long story short, it took me 14 install attempts over a 1 week period to get the laptop working properly - 3D graphics card, wireless, sound and web cam all worked. The battery was damaged by Vista's excessive heat generation which prevented the operating system to detect the battery state. Because of this the battery would last 2 hours. When I returned the laptop to my friend and told him the battery would only 2 hours, he responded "only 2 hours? the most it ever lasted me was 1 1/2 hours". There was no BIOS upgrade or new hard drive installed.

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