i've heard it all now. on saturday my vostro 1000 decided to start giving me the "unable to identify the battery type" error message so i contacted dell TS this morning to request a battery replacement. the TS guy in india tried to convince me that windows update had caused the error. when i pointed out that the error was occuring before the hard drive had even spun up and so it couldn't be an O/S issue, he still insisted that he'd "worked for dell for 2 years" and he knew what he was talking about. so i informed him that i've been a computer engineer/consultant for 20+ years and i that DO know what i'm talking about and he relented and ordered the battery.
the error is a first stage warning of a soon to come battery failure. it can be removed by a BIOS flash (which is what he wanted to do) but thats like putting a sticking plaster on an arterial bleed.
god i hate "script monkeys"