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One of the most annoying things about owning a laptop is the process of charging it. If you happen to run out of juice and don't have the charger for it on-hand, you can't simply borrow a friend's charger as it likely won't fit; each laptop charger is different and incompatible with one another.
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a worldwide standards group that paved the way for microUSB as the standard way to charge most smartphones, this week announced the "IEC Technical Specification 62700: DC Power supply for notebook computer". While the specification name is rather drab, it aims to introduce a single, interoperable laptop charger to end years of frustrating incompatibility.
The specification, which will be available in early 2014, covers most aspects of external laptop chargers, including the connector itself, safety, performance, interoperability and environmental concerns. The IEC hopes that through introducing a standard laptop charger, e-waste can be reduced as people will be able to reuse their old chargers across a range of laptops.
It will also be easier to purchase a new charger when one stops working, as you won't have to find the specific type of charger for your laptop model. At this stage we don't know what this universal charger will look like, but that will likely come to light when the full specification is released.
In the future, the IEC hopes that a universal power adapter covering a range of IT products will be available, but currently this is "a dream that remains out of reach today". Instead of spending time on a universal charger, the IEC has focused on standardizing laptop chargers, which is sure to be useful in the years to come.