The vast majority of netbooks on the market today ship with Windows XP. And the nearly decade-old operating system runs pretty well on a machine with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU and all the usual netbook specs like 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. You know what else runs surprisingly well on these netbooks? Windows 7, the upcoming next-gen operating system from Microsoft. There’s just one catch: It looks like most netbooks may be optimized for Windows XP, and without the proper drivers some netbooks get dramatically worse battery life when running Windows 7.
At first, this seems a bit strange, since Windows Vista and Windows 7 actually include more fine-tuning controls for adjusting your power schemes in order to extend battery life. But Laptop Magazine found that a Toshiba NB205 ran for nearly 9.5 hours with Windows XP, and even with updated Windows 7 drivers only lasted about 7 hours with Windows 7. An MSI Wind U123 also saw a battery life dip with Windows 7, although it wasn’t quite as dramatic.
PC World has a roundup of complaints regarding other netbooks including Asus Eee PC and Acer Aspire One netbooks.
It’s possible that Microsoft and/or hardware makers will release updated drivers after Windows 7 is released in October to address these issues. After all, long battery life is one of the strongest selling points for netbooks. If Windows 7 takes a toll on battery life, some vendors may decide to stick with the cheaper Windows XP. But it’s also possible that all the extra eye-candy that comes with Windows 7 simply uses up more resources, which would make it difficult for Windows 7 to compete with Windows XP in terms of energy use.