updated 01:50 pm EDT, Fri May 4, 2007
Vista Proving Battery Hog
Windows Vista is causing headaches for engineers trying to deliver reasonable battery life in notebooks, key computer makers have revealed today. The Microsoft operating system's Aero Glass interface, which is turned on by default for Vista's Home Premium edition and higher, pushes laptops to consume more power by drawing heavily on their 3D hardware.
The power drain and poor default settings from Microsoft have forced many PC makers to write their own power management apps just to maintain reasonable power claims, according to HP's John Wozniak. "They've really made it complex from a power management standpoint," he says. "The potential is there to do some good things, the bad thing is that it comes with the canned settings... and we didn't like any of them."
Company representatives from AMD and ThinkPad designer Lenovo have echoed the observation, noting that they too had to implement new power-saving mechanisms of their own to keep battery life in check.
Microsoft, however, has so far disputed the claims, saying that its testing shows little difference in the performance drain when Aero Glass is turned on. It would only say that it encouraged companies to fine-tune battery life as they saw fit. "We actively encourage [system builders] to customize the default power profiles so that users get the most out of their hardware," the company said.
The energy draw, however, is steep compared to the rival Mac OS X, whose Quartz Extreme technology also uses 3D co-processing but hasn't been reported as a primary contributor to lower battery life on MacBooks and earlier portable systems.