These have been hard days for Microsoft laptops. First Dennis Cheung's Acer doesn't autosuspend, then Omar Shahine gripes about power management on his Toshiba Tablet PC (and about why PC laptops aren't as sexy as PowerBooks), and finally Josh Ledgard complains that his Toshiba and Vaio are arthritic and creaking after only two years. Oh, and somewhere in there Wayne Kao discovered that iBook batteries don't last long, but my Apple buddies could have told him that :-)

I've already blogged about two software aspects of getting a good laptop setup before - namely, know what background applications are running, and customize your power schemes - but battery chemistry is still deep voodo to me. Thanks therefore go to Dean, who commented on Wayne's blog with a very useful pointer to "How to prolong lithium-based batteries". The big lessons seem to be keep 'em cool (which might mean taking them out when you're running hot on mains power), and try a full discharge every 30 cycles. That last part will seem wrong to anyone who remembers the "no memory effect" hype when lithium-ion batteries were first introduced, but matches IBM's "run it till its flat once a month" advice for their T40 laptops. The reason? Apparently the chemical engineering does indeed live up to the hype, but the power management circuitry still needs periodic recalibration via a full discharge. Net benefit to the consumer, who hoped he'd never have to recondition a battery again: zero.

Update: I've moved the information about ccmexec.exe and inventory.exe over here.

Update 2: A couple of other pointers to the same basic information on recalibrating your laptop battery to extend its life - "How to recalibrate your laptop battery" from lifehacker.com, and "Don’t Forget to re-calibrate your Laptop Battery!" from My Life, Cut Short.