A few weeks ago, I ran some battery tests on my netbook. I have both Windows XP and Windows 7 installed on my Toshiba NB205, which takes hardware variances out of the equation. My early looks show that Windows 7 offers 10% less runtime on the exact same device. I’ve since done some additional testing, thinking that the graphically intensive Aero features of Windows 7 might be the biggest factor. Unfortunately, that’s not what I found — using Windows 7 with all of the advanced Aero features off not only makes your netbook look like a Windows 95 beta, it doesn’t help run time in any noticeable way.
Readers offered up great commentary on the testing techniques and I can’t argue that there are many ways to run these tests. But even my informal testing shows the same trend continuing. When I use XP in my normal work day, it runs longer than when I use Windows 7 on the same hardware and in the same use cases. But don’t take my word for it. Brad Linder of Liliputing confirmed the same results not long after my testing and now LAPTOP Magazine completes the trifecta.
In fact, LAPTOP put three different netbooks through the paces — and all of them offered less run time on Windows 7. They used an entirely different approach as well, one that’s more reflective of real world usage, so it’s a safe bet that you’ll see less battery life on a Windows 7 device. Will there be exceptions? Of course there will — everyone uses different power management settings, not to mention they use their devices in different ways. But by and large, it looks like there’s a small battery life sacrifice with Windows 7 on a netbook. Should that stop you from using Windows 7? My opinion, is no, but if you’re happy with XP and don’t want or need some of the new Windows 7 features, you might want to stay put.