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Microsoft denies Windows 7 battery problem

The software maker says that an error message warning users that their batteries may need replacing appears to be working as intended, despite some complaints.

Although some users have been grumbling about a variety of battery issues related to Windows 7, Microsoft says that its testing shows that nothing is amiss.


The software maker initially thought that there might be a problem with the firmware in some PC models causing an error message to appear where one was not warranted. However, Microsoft now says that it believes that the operating system is behaving properly.

In a blog posting on Monday, Windows division President Steven Sinofsky said that the company's follow-up research shows that those seeing a notification that their batteries need replacing are getting the message because, in fact, the batteries are not performing up to a certain threshold.

"To the very best of the collective ecosystem knowledge, Windows 7 is correctly warning batteries that are in fact failing and Windows 7 is neither incorrectly reporting on battery status nor in any way whatsoever causing batteries to reach this state," Sinofsky said. "In every case we have been able to identify the battery being reported on was in fact in need of recommended replacement."

He noted that the error message is new to Windows 7, so people upgrading to Windows 7 may indeed see the message where no warning appeared before.

"We recognize that this has the appearance of Windows 7 'causing' the change in performance, but in reality all Windows 7 did was report what was already the case," Sinofsky said.

The company and PC makers have received a total of 20 support inquiries related to this error message, all of which have turned out to be older batteries whose performance had degraded, he said. Although there have been complaints on Microsoft's TechNet and other forums, Sinofsky said it has not seen anything in the cases it has followed up on to suggest anything other than the system correctly identifying underperforming batteries.

Sinofsky said it is actually seeing a smaller percentage of systems producing the error message than it had during the testing of Windows 7, in part because more and more new systems (with new batteries) are running the operating system.

"Only a very small percentage of users are receiving the 'Consider replacing your battery' notification, and as expected, we are seeing systems older than (around) 1.5 years," he said.