Over the last several months, there has been a lot of discussion about Windows 7, battery run time and reporting on battery condition. From my reading, I'm seeing two prominent discussion themes. First, whether a given system is more or less energy efficient running Windows 7 than it was under Vista or XP, and as a result, whether or not run times per charge are longer or shorter than under a previously installed version. Less of a discussion topic in our community, but a prominent theme in other venues is how a battery's overall health is reflected by Windows 7. Ken Seethaler, Director of Strategic Technology at Lenovo shares his thoughts on Windows 7 reporting, and why the Lenovo Power Manager continues to be an added value for Lenovo customers... "Microsoft has added a new battery function in Windows 7 to alert customers to batteries that have significantly degraded capacity. The Windows 7 battery notification message has the ability to display a message instructing the customer to consider replacing your battery.
Some customers experiencing this message, most of who had just upgraded from XP/Vista, unfortunately may have concluded that Windows 7 had somehow degraded the battery pack. Microsoft has since explained this message in detail on the MSN blog. The intention of this message/feature was to notify customers when their battery pack had degraded to a point that should be noticeable to the user, encouraging customers to replace their battery for an improved Windows 7 experience. Microsoft has decided that the threshold for this notification should occur when the battery pack has reached 40% full charge capacity when compared to the initial design capacity. Although informing the customer that their battery is at 40% of its initial design capacity may have some merit, this message has led some customers to ask questions as to exactly what this means to the battery’s overall health. Should the customer purchase a new battery pack? Is the battery safe to continue use? Will the computer suddenly shut down as indicated by the Windows 7 battery message? These questions are all reasonable, however the Microsoft Battery Notification message does not presently address them.
Lenovo’s ThinkVantage Power Manager utility reports battery health and provides an accurate indication of remaining run time (capacity) while on battery power. A staple component in the ThinkVantage suite of applications, Power Manager continually communicates with all of Lenovo’s battery packs and monitors the battery pack’s capacity degradation over time. The health status of the battery pack is reported within Power Manager and has three states: good, fair and poor. If the capacity of the battery deviates from the normal expected degradation curve Power Manager will report the battery condition as poor to the user as is shown below:
This condition is also a clear indicator of when a battery pack is eligible for a warranty replacement during the term of the warranty period, one or three years depending on the battery purchased. In addition to signaling abnormal capacity degradation, the poor condition indicator is used to notify the user when a battery error has occurred. The operating performance of the battery is continually monitored and when the cells or the electronics within the battery pack deviate from the expected safe operating range the battery pack will be disabled and an error will be reported by Power Manager visible to the user. Battery packs reporting errors are also eligible for warranty replacement during the term of the warranty, or if covered by a special service program which may specify qualifying batteries by their service part numbers, and validation through an online tool. The fair condition indicator is used to notify the user that the battery has experienced a significant amount of capacity degradation due to heavy use over time. This condition is a reasonable indicator to the user that it is a good time to replace the battery pack. The computer will continue to operate, but the user will notice a significant reduction in run-time per charge compared to a new Lenovo battery. The fair condition is closely analogous to the new Windows 7 Battery Notification message previously discussed. Lenovo continues to recommend Power Manager as the battery health management tool of choice for Windows 7 installed on Lenovo products. Power Manager provides a more complete indication of battery health than the Windows 7 Battery Message Tool."