Back in June, As You Sow, a watchdog that oversees the environmental impacts of e-waste filed a shareholder resolution urging Microsoft to adopt environment-friendly policies when it comes to product repairability. This is just a portion of the increasing pressure on big tech firms to encourage “right to repair” practices for customers. Now, it appears that Microsoft has finally bowed to this pressure, and agreed to expand repairability options for customers.
In a statement to Neowin, As You Sow proclaimed that it has agreed to withdraw its shareholder resolution on three conditions. The first is for Microsoft to facilitate independent third-party studies about the environmental impact of increasing access to repair options for Surface and Xbox devices. The second condition is to increase the availability of documentation and parts needed to repair Microsoft products beyond the existing Authorized Service Provider network. Lastly, the Redmond tech giant will “initiate new mechanisms to enable and facilitate local repair options for consumers”. All three conditions have been accepted by Microsoft.
Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow, had the following to say about the matter:
This is an encouraging step by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state activity in the right to repair movement. Excitingly, this agreement will begin to allow consumers to repair their Microsoft devices outside the limited network of authorized repair shops. […] I applaud the sincerity that Microsoft brought to the table in negotiating this agreement and hope additional manufacturers follow suit. Microsoft’s action demonstrates that the company recognizes that extending the lifetime of its devices through repair is essential to meeting its climate goals and that the company is serious about taking action to do so.
It is important to note that the U.S. Government has already asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create new “right to repair” policies. Even the European Commission (EC) has advanced a law that enforces the standardization of technology hardware to reduce e-waste and increase interoperability.