Today, I booted up my Sony VAIO S, which I’ve been in love with for the past week now. Fast, light, beautiful… it’s got me smitten over my previous computer which is right now in the process of being reimaged in an attempt to make it useful again. (System crash… may be hardware related. Don’t know.)
5 minutes into using it, I get the following error message (via dialog box) on the screen:
The installed battery may not be properly connected to the computer or it may not be compatible with the computer.
Click “OK” to enter Hibernate mode, and remove and reinsert the battery.
See the electronic VAIO® User Guide for more information about using the battery.
The dialog box is always on top and automatically centers itself into the middle of the screen every 3 seconds, making it a true visual nuisance. There is no way to ‘move it out of the way’ or ‘get rid of it’ and clicking OK will put the machine into hibernation – whether you like it or not.
WAIT…WTF? LET’S TRACK THIS DOWN.
Yeah, that’s what I said. This isn’t a cheap PC, and probably 2nd in cost & technology only to the Sony VAIO Z, which is the crème de la crème of Sony laptops and their flagship SKU. So I got pretty upset at this failure. How could a brand new Sony OEM Battery be burnt out or faulty already?
So I open up Task Manager, and click the Applications Tab. I right-mouse click the “CAUTION” dialog box. and select “GO TO PROCESS”, which takes me to the Processes Tab. This is where it gets interesting. There’s a process running called “ISBMgr.exe” with no description other than “ISBMgr.exe”. Lovely.
So like with most problems I have on my system, I start with more advanced tool, Security Task Manager, and do some discovery around what this ISBMgr.exe program is. Sure enough, it’s from Sony.
I use CCLEANER.EXE to look at what is loaded at start up and lo-and-behold, there’s ISBMgr.exe. I start to dig into “What the heck is this ISBMgr.exe program?”
“ISBMGR.EXE” – SONY’S POLICE STATE SOFTWARE
My first hint was the comments left by the folks using Security Task Manager, basically panning it as Sony’s own brand of spyware of sorts, designed to compel people to use their accessories & more importantly, their LiIon batteries, exclusively.:
If you prefer not to read all that’s in the Neuber Library, the short answer is that ISBMgr.exe is Sony’s nefarious means of compelling less technical users of only using Sony-authorized OEM equipment, accessories & parts, specifically SONY-BRANDED LiION BATTERIES.
But here’s the problem: I’m using a Sony-branded LiIon battery. I didn’t eBay some cheap Chinese battery and self-install it on my Sony Vaio S. This entire Sony unit is a company purchase: I didn’t buy it on the cheap or anything. It was actually purchased & sourced directly from Sony. So what gives?
BUGS! BUGS, BUGS, BUGS!
It turns out that Sony’s software is apparently, according to forum comments, ‘crap’ and often times misidentifies genuine & authentic Sony batteries as 3rd party clones. The result is, in an overly aggressive and phenomenally STUPID move, Sony’s own control software forces legitimate & official Sony hardware & accessories to sometimes shutdown.
Of course the resolution is to DISABLE the ISBMgr.exe service on your machine and/or kill it completely if running.
I’m not sure but the software my prevent certain Function Keys from working – like Display Brightness. (Fn-F5 & Fn-F6) You can however control Display Brightness by pressing “Windows Key-X” which will provide you with all sort of mobile adjustments.
Interestingly, I’m not the only one that’s discovered this ridiculous scheme of Sony’s – see below for a list of references I found about Sony’s ISBMGR.EXE program. (Although, from the makers of such fine “lock-you-in-to-Sony” technologies like Blu-Ray, UMD, BetaMax, Memory Stick, Sony ATRAC Streaming Media format, etc. – I’d expect nothing else.)