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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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