Does Windows 7 give worse battery life on netbooks?

Monday, August 31, 2009
Reports are coming in about netbooks suffering from diminished battery life when running Windows 7. The story broke with an article in the US Laptop magazine than claimed Windows 7 lopped 3 hours of a Toshiba NB2O5 netbook, compared to when it was running Windows XP. With Windows XP, the NB2O5 lasted for nine hours 24 minutes away from the mains, while with Windows 7, it ran for six hours 15 minutes.

Similar results have been reported by other sources, too — more details after the cut.
Netbook user forums have already seen complaints about the battery life of netbooks running the public beta and release candidate of Windows 7, as these sample threads from EeeUser, the Acer Aspire User Forum and show. Tom’s Hardware also experienced reduced netbook battery life in its Windows 7 tests.

Windows 7 runs surprisingly well on the Intel Atom processor used in most netbooks, so these battery life results are a little disappointing for anyone looking to install Microsoft’s latest operating system once it goes on sale on 22 October.

It’s important to note, however, that these battery life issues could simply be the result of insufficiently optimised drivers, although the EeeUser thread does make specific mention of the ASUS Super Hybrid Engine power source-optimiser utility being installed and running with Windows 7.

We suspect netbook battery life will be improved by the time OEMs start shipping models with Windows 7 pre-installed. If you rely upon your netbook’s battery, it’s probably worth postponing an upgrade to Windows 7 until Windows 7-specific drivers and utilities are available for your model. Let us know in the comments if you’ve already installed Windows 7 on your netbook and aren’t getting quite the same battery life as Windows XP.