Microsoft, Intel show Windows 7 battery life improvements

The Windows 7 review we published last week focused on the desktop side of things, but notebook users have reasons to get excited, too. CNet News reports that Microsoft and Intel have demonstrated that the new operating system can bring about substantial battery life savings when playing DVDs:

At a demo on Tuesday, Microsoft showed two identical laptops playing the same DVD, with the Windows 7-equipped notebook getting 20 percent better battery life than one running Windows Vista. In general, users can expect newer systems running Windows 7 to offer 10 percent to 20 percent better battery improvement when watching a DVD.

A photo of the two test systems, apparently both Lenovo ThinkPad T400s, shows the Windows 7-powered machine drawing 15.6 W and the one with Vista consuming 20.5 W. "Estimated total runtime" lines quote 5.46 hours for the former and 4.14 hours for the latter. The article doesn’t elaborate on the reasons for the big difference, but perhaps Windows Media Player 12 might be partly responsible.

Windows 7 may improve battery life outside of DVD playback, too, although CNet says Microsoft declined to provide estimates for that. Many factors could sway the results, said the company’s Ruston Panabaker. Still, a chart displayed at the event shows a 2.9% delta between idle power consumption for the two laptops.

Comments closed
    • Clint Torres
    • 13 years ago

    Yeah after reading ATI/AMD’s lil’ blurb on their driver download page saying they don’t provide drivers for mobile graphics, I was a bit incredulous.

    • thecoldanddarkone
    • 13 years ago

    AMD offically has no support for Windows 7 on all directx 9 cards. That annoys the hell out of me. Sure you can install Vista drivers on Windows 7. What’s even more annoying is that the x1250 a product that still being sold today and has no w7 support. So they have no support on products that have W7 upgrade licenses.

    Yes, Nvidia does still support the 6 and 7 series.

    • Clint Torres
    • 13 years ago

    I installed Win 7 on my wife’s Dell E1505 last night and it was a breeze. All the drivers were either on the Win 7 install disk or found by windows update. I was kind of shocked. It even got the ATI x1400 drivers that you can’t find anywhere.

    The only thing that didn’t work are the little scroll areas on the touchpad.

    • Cyril
    • 13 years ago

    Looks like that’s build 7,100, so the release candidate, according to the watermark in that screenshot. The release-to-manufacturing version is build 7,600.

    • SPOOFE
    • 13 years ago

    Sure, as if Vista is the only software in the world with glitches.

    • albundy
    • 13 years ago

    I think it depends on what power phases the mainboard has available. The new i5 boards should provide better power management. My MSI 790FX mainboard has an onboard display showing temps and drops a good 15 degrees when i sleep mode. It also might be that my overclock is set back…

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    No, but the press/enthusiast community sure has written it off as “Everything that Vista Wasn’tg{<.<}g"

    • Clint Torres
    • 13 years ago

    Were you really expecting the RTM to be bullet-proof?

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    §[<http://indeego.com/windows7buggy.png<]§ Still a beta OS sg{<'<}gfar as I'm concerned.

    • BooTs
    • 13 years ago

    That’s what I would have guessed, but now I don’t have to.

    • astraelraen
    • 13 years ago

    I’m not sure how the power schemes are different in W7 RTM compared to Vista.

    My wife’s HP Dv5t under W7 either runs very cool or very very hot. There is no in between. It is like the fan is stuck at 0% or 100%. It is kind of annoying. Also, in W7 in sleep mode it turns into a fireball. I turned off sleep mode because of this. If I were to put it to sleep under W7 and come back to it a few hours later it would be a BLAZING INFERNO OF HEAT. I would assume since it is the RTM/retail version of W7 that the power schemes would be finalized. Maybe they just don’t work that well with the Dv5t.

    I speculate the W7 power schemes aren’t effectively controlling the hard drive or the Nvidia 9600m. The area of the laptop where the hard drive is gets REALLY hot under W7 when left to idle for extended times.

    Under Vista is ran at an appropriate % to keep the computer cool.

    • tay
    • 13 years ago

    Data: Apple has fixed this with new bootcamp drivers for Snow Leopard 10.6. Now Vista/7 have almost the same battery life as OS X. The magic is in putting all the hardware to sleep using good drivers.

    • Forge
    • 13 years ago

    The difference is that WMP on Vista does not ever accelerate decode via hardware, even when that acceleration is present, while Win7’s native decoders absolutely do use hardware acceleration, and over a greater number of formats than Vista would handle.

    DVDs are mid-bitrate MPEG2, which even the GMA900 will hardware accelerate. X4500 will accelerate x264 and VC1 decode, which the older chipsets will not handle.

    MPEG2 decode acceleration has been around since roughly i915, if memory serves. Early on it was only Motion Comp, while it picked up iDCT and VLD in X3100.

    Anyways, Vista = pure software decode, 7 = hardware assist. Those X4500s can do almost everything but read the disk.

    Much marketing fluff about nothing.

    • CasbahBoy
    • 13 years ago

    That is what I’m thinking. I have Windows 7 on my T400 and notice no difference in battery life for regular usage. I’d chalk this article up to video decode optimisations in WMP12, with maybe some additional Intel driver-level power saving tricks that apply especially to decode.

    • Voldenuit
    • 13 years ago

    legitreviews found otherwise: §[<http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1023/2/<]§ Then again, the GMA950 found on most netbooks doesn't accelerate video, unlike the X4500 on the T400s. However, since many media players can already take advantage of DXVA, WMP12 support in W7 is only useful if you use WMP to watch your media (I found the DXVA implementation on my Radeon 4870 to be buggy and not very robust, myself, although some of my friends claim to have better luck with nvidia cards). Idle power between Vista and W7 seem to be within margin of error imo.

    • ltcommander.data
    • 13 years ago

    20% better battery life is definitely a start. It’d definitely be interesting to figure out how this better battery life is achieved. OS X currently seems to achieve more than twice the Minutes/Whr from a battery compared to Vista so there is still a lot of efficiency to be had.

    §[<http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=3569&p=14<]§ EDIT: I must be a slow typer since when I started there were no comments, yet I ended up posting comments very similar to Hattig.

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    So maybe WMP12 includes better GPU acceleration for video decode?

    How about normal web browsing? Productivity use?

    We’ll see, I’m sure Anandtech will do a whole set of tests on battery life like they usually do, especially now this claim has been made.

    I presume there is some more aggressive power management going on as well. Apple gets a lot out of batteries with Mac OS X compared to Windows on the same hardware, so there must be room for improvement without affecting usability.

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