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The new MacBook Pro lineup sport awesome battery life of up to 8 hours on a single charge. However, battery performance is much worse under Windows Vista than OS X. Who is to blame -- Apple or Microsoft? According to Anandtech, other OEMs indicate that Vista gets considerably worse battery life than OS X, pointing the finger at Microsoft.  (Source: Apple)
Is Microsoft to blame for MacBook's poor Windows battery performance?

While processing power, graphics, and memory have bumped up over the years on laptops, one field that has languished with relatively poor progress is the world of laptop batteries.  Most laptops provide a meager 2 hours or less on a charge.  While better solutions are beginning to enter the market, the general state of things is still fairly bad.

That's part of the allure of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.  Priced relatively high, the notebooks still deliver arguably the best battery life in the industry for their respective classes. The MacBook Air gets 2.7-4.98 hours of use under various scenarios, while the new 15" MacBook Pro gets an incredible 8.13 hours of battery life when performing basic web browsing sans flash.

However, there are reports that something strange is afoot with the Macs.  Aside from complaints about SATA capping, AnandTech founder Anand Shimpi also noticed that both the MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro have much lower battery life in Windows Vista x64 SP1, even when using an optimized profile.  On the MacBook Air battery life dropped to a range of 1.75-2.55 hours, down almost 50 percent on the high end.  In the 15" MacBook Pro battery life dropped to 6.02 hours, down almost 25 percent.

Results of XP testing were reportedly better, but not by much.  Windows 7 RC1 actually showed worse results, posting a battery life of 5.48 hours on the MacBook Pro.  While this drop is likely attributable to unoptimized drivers, it still seems likely that Windows 7's final form will not significantly improve the situation.

So what's to blame for the bad battery life?  Is Windows that much less efficient at power management than OS X?  Mr. Shimpi states, "When I first published these tests I spoke to a few PC OEMs to see if they had noticed any similar results. No one was willing to go on record but some OEMs did at least admit to seeing a ~20% difference between battery life in OS X and Vista."

He concludes that both Sony and Lenovo claim that they will soon be able to offer similar battery life (8 hours) on Windows Vista notebooks.  However, such claims are for now vaporware, he says, for lack of any sort of benchmarked hardware.  One thing is for sure, though -- if these tests and claims prove true it appears Apple has scored a major victory over Microsoft.  If this is the case, one can only hope that they choose to market their products using this -- appealing to the road warriors in need of long battery life -- rather than resorting to the vague aspersions of "bugginess" that the company has made against Microsoft's Windows in the past.

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By MRC554 on 6/16/2009 9:36:01 AM , Rating: 5
Apple has total access to all Mac BIOS info - something Vista don´t have. With this extra advantage, Apple can optimize MacOS X for maximum energy consumption - something Vista can´t. That´s the reason MacOS X will always have better battery life on Macs.

By MrPickins on 6/16/2009 11:53:11 AM , Rating: 4

It's no surprise to me that they can tune OSX to be efficient on hardware that they know every intricacy of.

By FITCamaro on 6/16/2009 12:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
How dare both of you propose that a company that controls every aspect of the hardware and software they sell can optimize for it better.

By the goat on 6/16/2009 1:10:25 PM , Rating: 1
Apple has total access to all Mac BIOS info - something Vista don´t have. With this extra advantage, Apple can optimize MacOS X for maximum energy consumption - something Vista can´t. That´s the reason MacOS X will always have better battery life on Macs.

Good theory, but Macs don't have a BIOS.

By amanojaku on 6/16/2009 1:35:12 PM , Rating: 4
Whatever you want to call it EFI IS a BIOS. You're saying a spanner isn't a wrench. Read the article you posted; it says "EFI is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware." Then read the BIOS article; it says "the System BIOS is a de facto standard defining a firmware interface." Same layer, same function, different name.

By the goat on 6/17/2009 11:00:43 AM , Rating: 2
You're saying a spanner isn't a wrench.

I'm not saying that at all.

What I am saying is a crescent wrench is not a box-end wrench. They are both wrenches though. Just like BIOS is not EFI. But both are low level firmware architectures.

By Magnus Dredd on 6/17/2009 6:34:17 PM , Rating: 1
BIOS is _NOT_ a proper noun.

It is an acronym which stands for B asic I nput O utput S ystem. A BIOS is a type of firmware. (1)

The BIOS you're attempting (and failing) to refer to is actually named "PC XT BIOS", although you could probably correctly call it "IBM PC BIOS". It was originally developed for the IBM PC XT which was released in 1983.(2)

At some point, and I'm not sure when, the "PC XT" or "IBM PC" got dropped by most people. For some reason, perhaps stupidity, an amazing number of people refer to things using something other than the name of the thing. Perhaps, most people's brains too small to keep track of proper names which are composed of more than a single word.

Recently I have been running into people referring to "Microsoft Word" as "Microsoft". This is stupid. Microsoft is a multinational corporation which makes a huge number of software titles, one of which is named "Microsoft Word". I would assume that these people cannot be so ignorant that they don't know that there is a company named "Microsoft".

Ignorance of the name of the BIOS implementation that most PCs use may be understandable, especially if you're not tech savvy, 14 years old, or were born after 1983. However, it is lame to persist in arguing with people who actually know the name.

The PC XT BIOS is a severely limited implementation which is long overdue for replacement. The EFI BIOS is a modern, extensible (the "e"), and powerful BIOS. I personally can't wait til more of the non-Apple PCs use EFI, regardless of whatever sorts of hacks are required to make Windows work on it.***

*** Despite Microsoft promising to natively support EFI with Vista, the only versions of Windows to support it are the Itanium Editions of Windows 2000, 2003, 2008, and XP. In order to ship an PC that will boot XP or VIsta that has a modern BIOS, multiple vendors have added a "PC XT BIOS" emulation module, which allows Windows to boot on EFI systems. Apple's Boot Camp originally added this emulation module to the BIOS of Macintosh systems, which allowed them to boot Windows. At this point, Apple's systems whip with the module pre-installed. The only BIOS to support Itanium systems is EFI.



By sprockkets on 6/18/2009 12:33:32 AM , Rating: 3
I used to think that an EFI "BIOS" was great, until I found out how retarded it works, and how it doesn't relinquish all control of the hardware to the OS (think DRM).

CoreBoot FTW

By omnicronx on 6/16/2009 4:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
In the PC world it is up to the OEM to make such optimizations as they also have the ability to refine their drivers to work better with specific hardware (that is also under their control), so is it really that unbelievable that a Mac using stock manufacturer windows drivers get worse performance? That would be like taking a lenovo, removing all their software and proprietary drivers, and installing base windows drivers and expecting the same results.

In other words this test means absolutely nothing.

By sprockkets on 6/17/2009 4:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
You are so misinformed as to how energy saving technologies work.


Microsoft, HP, and Intel and Toshiba and a few others came up with ASCPI. Saying that Apple is better at a standard that others came up with is just retarded.

MacBooks are made by Foxconn/Asus, just like any other laptops made by them.

The laptop hardware contains Intel and nVidia components, nothing in Apple's laptops are proprietary to them, save for putting in an EFI style BIOS for their particular needs of making sure only MacBooks can run OSX.

When Vista/OSX/Linux/etc. start to run, it takes over the BIOS and complete control of the hardware, governed by what the BIOS told it was available. The same information is available to anyone.

But the best line of evidence is this: The latest updates to OSX also helped with battery life, even on netbooks running the hacked version of OSX, with Atom processors! Many reported an extra hour of battery life! Yes, on non-Apple hardware, not running anything near what normal MacBooks use!

By PrinceGaz on 6/18/2009 11:13:19 AM , Rating: 2
Apple has total access to all Mac BIOS info - something Vista don´t have. With this extra advantage, Apple can optimize MacOS X for maximum energy consumption - something Vista can´t. That´s the reason MacOS X will always have better battery life on Macs.

Or perhaps for maximum energy efficiency.

Apple wrote the Windows Drivers
By GeorgeOu on 6/16/2009 4:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Apple wrote the Windows Drivers so it's obvious that they didn't optimize as much for Windows as they did for Mac OS X. What someone needs to do is take non-Apple hardware and run Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and a hacked version of Mac OS X on it and do the comparison.

RE: Apple wrote the Windows Drivers
By noirsoft on 6/16/2009 4:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
Retitle the article: "Macbook Pro reveals that Apple intentionally writes bad Windows drivers for their products in order to further their misinformation campaign"

By Magnus Dredd on 6/17/2009 6:36:15 PM , Rating: 2
There's no evidence that this is the case.

However I have seen multiple benchmarks showing Vista providing worse battery life than XP or Linux.

RE: Apple wrote the Windows Drivers
By Sazar on 6/16/2009 4:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
Apple wrote the Windows drivers? You lost me there buddy.

I agree with the latter part of your assesment but the whole point of this exercise is that the newer Macs have better battery life. I definitely will be interesting to see what kind of numbers people come up with running these OS's on HP's or Dell's or something similar.

By GeorgeOu on 6/16/2009 5:44:13 PM , Rating: 2
Apple supplies Windows Drivers for their hardware. The test shows that MacBooks run better on OS X than Vista but it doesn't represent all hardware.

My ThinkPad X200 from last year gets 11 hours battery life using the 9-cell battery. I actually confirmed it on a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt Germany editing word documents and reading PDFs with the Wi-Fi and BlueTooth turned off and set to minimum brightness. Note that minimum brightness on a dark airplane is actually a little too bright.

By SoCalBoomer on 6/17/2009 12:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
read the article a bit better - this is comparing the new Macbooks to the new Macbooks - just with different OS's on it.

Apple writes ALL the drivers for the Mac (whether for OSX or for Windows) - remember, Microsoft does not write drivers; they have the manufacturers do it (in this case Apple)

So, boil it down to this (and I'm really sad to see Anand miss it):

A: Apple writes battery optimizing drivers for Macbook/OSX
B: Apple does NOT write battery optimizing drivers for Macbook/Windows (any version)

RE: Apple wrote the Windows Drivers
By nangryo on 6/17/2009 11:17:41 PM , Rating: 2
There is some battery test on MacBook PRo on anandtech site, you might want to check it out.

I don't want to hear it
By amanojaku on 6/16/2009 9:39:59 AM , Rating: 2
I'm willing to bet there is some hardware/software optimization going on in the Mac, but that's just speculation. Until Apple provides an OS that runs on non-Macs performance and power comparisons are... apples to oranges.

RE: I don't want to hear it
By MrPeabody on 6/16/2009 10:17:58 AM , Rating: 5
If Microsoft ever started their own line of PCs, they would simply have to call their flagship model "Orange". That would make this whole Apples-versus-Oranges argument official, once and for all.

RE: I don't want to hear it
By Magnus Dredd on 6/17/2009 6:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'll test this the next time I install OSX on a Dell laptop.

I have tested Vista vs XP... Vista sucks for battery life. This is not news.

I have had it running on a couple of the ones owned by my employer. The crappy thing is that the models I have access to don't have good OSX driver support (Hackintosh or otherwise).

By gmljosea on 6/16/2009 2:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
"When I first published these tests I spoke to a few PC OEMs to see if they had noticed any similar results. No one was willing to go on record but some OEMs did at least admit to seeing a ~20% difference between battery life in OS X and Vista."

I'm probably missing something here, but how could any PC OEM come to that conclusion? Logic tells me only one that sells both OS X and Vista machines, and well, Apple doesn't sell Vista machines...

By Nobleman00 on 6/16/2009 3:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
I was about to quote the same, this article / research is biased, and full of it.

Aside from no mac specific power management interface for Windows, if you run Windows in a virtual environment, you're running 2 Operating Systems at the same time (OSX and Windows). This obviously doubles disk and processor activity, thereby doubling power consumption.

In other words, "no $h!t Sherlock." If you ran OSX in a virtual machine on Windows, or Windows VM on Windows, the effects would be the same.

By SoCalBoomer on 6/17/2009 12:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you - I saw the EXACT same thing and am REALLY disappointed in Anand for pulling this one. Only ONE OEM makes machines that run OSX . . . so either Mick is pulling a fast one or Anand just stepped on his wienie.

By sprockkets on 6/17/2009 5:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
What, you don't know that MacBooks are made by Asus and or Foxconn/Honhai in China, like any other OEM?

Furthermore, Anand didn't test via virtualization, but
To find out I put together the same test I ran under OS X under a fresh install of Windows Vista x64 SP1. I even used Safari and iTunes for 64-bit Windows to keep the applications as similar as possible between the OSes.

XP vs Vista battery life
By mikecel79 on 6/16/2009 9:59:01 AM , Rating: 2
I know this article compares Vista vs OS X but I thought I'd share my experience with battery life between XP and Vista. I have a HP nc6510b laptop with the additional extended battery. I typically get 5.5 to 6 hours of battery life from it when working from home. This isn't what I would call heavy usage. It's mostly wireless with a VPN connection running, Outlook, a few remote desktop sessions,a few MMC administration consoles and the typical AV and IM clients.

When I switched from XP to Vista I noticed my battery life stayed the same or improved slightly. The power profiles were very close to identical so it wasn't that.

The thing is Apple has a very limited amount of hardware that OS X needs to run on so they can optimize and steamline the OS. They don't need to worry about someone having a bad driver that drains battery life because they write 95% of the drivers or work very closely with the OEM to optimize it for OS X. I would expect OS X to get better battery life on a MacBook than Vista on a MacBook.

RE: XP vs Vista battery life
By TomZ on 6/16/2009 10:26:24 AM , Rating: 2
In my experience switching from Vista to Windows 7 on the same laptop, my battery life is better in Windows 7. I'd be curious to see some objective measures of the different OS battery times running standard loads.

Comparisons to Mac, to me, are irrelevant, since I wouldn't ever use a Mac anyway, regardless of battery life.

By inperfectdarkness on 6/17/2009 6:44:01 AM , Rating: 2
touche. apple doesn't need video drivers--they just don't properly support games to begin with.

battery life win vs mac
By chenedwa777 on 6/16/2009 10:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone have any data comparing battery life using a wintel laptop hacked to run macos X vs its native flavor of windows?

RE: battery life win vs mac
By Nobleman00 on 6/17/2009 1:48:15 PM , Rating: 2
You can't because Apple monopolizes both the hardware and the software that runs on it, and sues anyone who tries running it on their own (other than Apple) Intel hardware.

Kind of like how a cell phone company might make a cell phone and the software that runs it.

But when Microsoft writes an operating system, and includes a web browser with it, it is a monopoly.

You're all missing one point
By blowfish on 7/1/2009 9:22:29 AM , Rating: 2
and that is that there are currently no Windows notebooks offering comparable battery life to Macs.

A meaningful comparison could be made by taking similarly specced notebooks, and running similar benchmarks, whilst measuring power consumption.

The latest Macs will have an advantage in battery life by using LiIon batteries with their better power density, but power consumption numbers would settle which OS was more power efficient.

RE: You're all missing one point
By Mint on 7/3/2009 9:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. I'm shocked that neither Anandtech nor anyone here mentioned the Acer Timeline notebooks. 8-9 hours battery life, 4.3 lbs for the 14":

Lighter despite the bigger screen, longer battery life, and cheaper. Lower performance, but didn't someone above say that Mac owners don't care much about that?

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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