updated 05:56 pm EST, Tue February 12, 2013
Fixes a rare issue for much-used batteries
Users owning a 15- or 17-inch MacBook Pro that is either the "Mid-2010" or the "Early 2011" models will soon see an SMC firmware update for their machines that will update the firmware to version 1.7. The upgrade addresses "a rare issue on some Apple notebooks where a battery that has accumulated more than 1,000 charge cycles may unexpectedly shut down or stop functioning," according to the company. Apple rates the batteries as being good for 1,000 or more cycles.
The batteries in question use Apple's advanced battery technology and management software to mitigate the normal decay of batteries as much as possible, offering a long average lifespan and less "decay" in charging capacity towards the end of that lifespan until the battery finally needs replacing (which is unlikely to be required, since the battery is designed to last a bit longer than the average useful life of the notebook itself, about five years or more of routine portable use).
The SMC firmware update requires that the MacBook Pro be attached to a power source and not relying on battery power alone when performed, and requires at least one (automatic) restarting of the machine. Instructions for firmware updates are different than those for software installs, but all needed directions are on-screen. The computer must not be powered down while doing a firmware update or the MacBook Pro may become unbootable and require professional repair.
The file size of the update is 1MB, and is available through the Software Update mechanism for qualifying machines. Users must be running v10.6.8 if they are on Snow Leopard, v10.7.5 or higher for Lion, and version 10.8.2 for Mountain Lion.