Microsoft, lets start an open conversation on Vista and battery life

Last Saturday, I posted my “I miss the Wow” article with the intent to address “elephant in the room” issues that can help the Tablet PC industry find its groove again. I’m serious when I say I miss the Wow, and its clear from the comments and feedback received that I’m not alone. I obviously touched on a passionate issue that has been laying dormant in people’s hearts and minds for a while. I hope OEMs, ISVs, and Microsoft are reading the comments in that post and in Warner’s marketing article.

Over the next several months, I plan on taking the issues I raised and addressing each with its own focus with the end goal of bringing about positive change in the space. The first issue I’d like to focus on is battery life and Vista.


One of the most common complaints about Vista and Mobile PCs is the big drop in battery life. We are seeing and hearing reports of 15% – 30% drop in battery performance, which is driving many people to buy extended batteries as their standard battery now. Users with mobile pcs that don’t support extended batteries are up the creek without a paddle. Tom Krazit of CNET picked up on my comments in this article just posted today, reaffirming what we are seeing: battery life under Vista is frustrating many mobile users.

When Vista was marketed, it was touted as being a better solution for mobile pc users than XP. There are certainly improvements in Vista to help mobile users, with one of the best being, ironically, the custom power management control panel. In addition, there is also the Windows Mobility Center that be accessed with the Windows Key + X, that lets the user control brightness, sound, battery schemes, wireless, and more.

On April 1, I jokingly posted that a Vista Battery Patch was finally available and called the patch the “Mobile PC Battery Patch that Should Have Been in Vista system”, and noted that it brought battery life back up to par with what Mobile PC users experienced in XP. While it was a joke, many people gravitated toward it and thought it was real, which shows that people genuinely expect such a patch. The April Fools post was also a tongue-in-cheek attempt at telling Microsoft that they need to seriously look at this issue.

Well, enough jokes. It is time to have a serious open conversation with Microsoft about what is going on with Vista and battery life. Microsoft, what can users do with their battery schemes to get performance back to what it was with XP without killing overall CPU performance? Are there BIOS issues that OEMs need to implement? Are there service pack fixes in the works to address this issue? Are we doomed to this kind of battery life from now on? I certainly hope not. Talk to us openly and tell us what is going on.

Along those lines, what can we as mobile users give you in terms of raw data, battery scheme settings, cpu configurations, hard drive speeds, ram, etc to help collect as much data to accurately nail this problem and work toward some fixes and recommendations. The status quo isn’t going to cut it and we want to be an active part of helping you solve this problem for us.

Microsoft, please feel free to comment here, or on your own blogs, so we can dialogue this issue together in an open fashion. Lets involve the larger mobile pc community in this conversation to help bring about genuine change and a more positive mobile experience for Vista users.



Brandon Paddock, who works on Search tech for Microsoft, is chiming in on the conversation: