Vista Wireless Access Could Cause Laptop Battery Drain

Users running Windows Vista on laptops may see batteries draining faster than they expect, Microsoft said in a warning, because some wireless access points aren't configured to take advantage of the new operating system's Wi-Fi power-saving mode.
In a recent post to Microsoft's official Vista blog, senior product manager Jason Leznek spelled out the company's last-minute decision to change the default power setting of wireless adapters to "maximum performance."

"Test results from Microsoft and our customers show that some Windows Vista beta users experienced connectivity problems when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots," wrote Leznek in his post. "In many cases, the root cause of the problem is access point or router hardware which is not compatible with the 802.11 power save protocol."

Rather than leave the wireless access card in "power save" mode -- which reduces battery drain by periodically putting the card to sleep -- Microsoft switched the default to a more power-intensive mode, one usually reserved for times when the laptop is connected to AC power, Leznek noted.

"However, this power savings scheme for 802.11 wireless adapters depends on cooperation of the access point," Leznek wrote. "The problem is that many access points do not implement or support the power save feature correctly."

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When I was beta testing Windows Vista the first computer I installed it on was a laptop with the same processor as my main machine and when I installed it and connected to my router wirelessly it seamed to drain the battery at such an alarming rate, I contacted the beta team and advised them there was a potential major issue with Wi-Fi on Windows Vista, even when the settings were set as default “balanced” it drained the battery at such a fast rate it would reduce the power consumption of a battery on a laptop to 50 Percent in around about 20 minutes.

I also advised I had tested this on three different Dell laptop models Latitude D600, D610 and D800 and they where all charged fully and then run at the same time connected wirelessly to the network. The D800 battery consumption drained faster because the D800 is a massive laptop the others where a little slower but they drained faster never the less.

And now all of the sudden as though this is brand new news about Vista Wi-Fi draining your laptop battery which it is clearly not. I reported this to them as a potential major issue which could cause a nightmare for businesses who have employees out in the field using Vista on their laptops.

I will say this again Microsoft, listen to your beta testers especially when they report major issues.

Every laptop I've ever used with the default "power savings" mode set has had issues with dropouts.

The first thing I do now when I set one up to to set it to "Maximum Performance"

Thank goodness Microsoft has finally done the right thing and made wireless usable. Now we just need the card manafacturers to wake up to all the grief they are causing in the name of "power savings"!!

I'd like to point out that this is true for the default power mode of 'Balanced', but 'Power Saver' does indeed use 'Maximum Power Saving'. Fortunately, you can switch between power modes in vista with the little tray icon, rather than being forced to go to the control panel.

Quote - 3284lmm said @ #7
I'm getting around 30 minutes less on my thinkpad T60, hopefully this is the main reason.

My battery also drains about 20 - 30 minutes faster on Vista.

I've never bothered to check it on my XP or Linux partitions on my laptop, but when my laptop is plugged in and I do a speed test (at I get about: 6000kbps down / 350kbps up. When it's on the battery on Vista I get around 1000kbps down / 250kbps up.

Pretty significant difference, I did notice this speed difference before I noticed this article (I also did the tests before I noticed this article) which inspired me to do the test. It's like I'm running Roadrunner Lite.

Rather than just implement the change, they should have an autodetect module which detects whether an access point supports it...

This is just sloppy work by Microsoft - sacrificing battery life when they could easily do things properly

That probably could happen if access points either didn't implement, or implemented it, but the article says they don't implement it properly, so who knows if that's easily detectable. I don't really know that much about it.

In any case, The power modes in Vista are so customizable that I'm happy with it as it is.

OK. I noticed that on day 1 too. And have configured it correctly for home envoirnment.
Don't use my computer out on the street anyways.

Probably because Vista gives you significantly more control over what it does when on battery. You can adjust everything from your CPU's max utilization, to the PCI-express power saving features.

slightly the same with my laptop :blink:, on WinXP my battery lasts about seven minutes longer than it lasts on Vista, which to me it don't make a difference.

Make sure you use the correct power save mode on Vista.
My battery lasts 30 minutes more on Vista. (It lasts just about 2 hours on XP).