microsoft is making it easier for customers to repair devices. will other companies follow?

© Przemyslaw Marczynski / Unsplash Microsoft is taking steps to make their devices more repairable.

In June, a shareholder advocacy group called As You Sow filed a shareholder’s resolution asking Microsoft to consider the way it “restricts consumer access to device repairability.”

Other tech companies, like Dell, HP and Motorola, have already begun making their devices more repairable, getting ahead of Right to Repair legislations that may be on the cusp of passing. 

In the past, Microsoft has actively lobbied against Right to Repair bills, but surprisingly, in October, as first reported by Grist, Microsoft agreed to expand its repair options, supplying access to parts and information needed for repairs. Microsoft even committed to conducting a study evaluating the environmental impact of device repairability. 

[Related: How a new executive order might help your phone last longer]

“This is the first time we've seen a major manufacturer step up and make the commitment,” says Kyle Wiens, CEO of repair guide site iFixit. “Amazingly, instead of telling the activist investors to pound sand, Microsoft said we're gonna do it.”

Here’s why this is a crucial victory for Right to Repair activists.

Right to Repair is a movement that advocates for people’s right to repair their own devices and reduce e-waste by extending the life of electronic devices. Activists advocate for legislation that will force manufacturers to increase device repairability. “It’s the idea that if I buy an expensive thing, I should have access to parts, tools and information to fix it,” says Wiens. 

Unlike the steps companies like Motorola have taken to improve device repairability, Wiens says Microsoft’s commitment goes above and beyond. They’ve committed to improving the design of their device to increase repairability, and to have parts and service manuals available to the public by the end of 2022.

[Related: When your devices need repairs, here’s where to start]

But already, Microsoft has taken steps towards increasing repairability. When Microsoft’s Surface laptop came out in 2012, Wiens, whose site grades tech products on a repairability scale from one to ten, rated it a zero. “It was the worst laptop I had ever scored,” he says. “Just completely unfixable. But the Surface 2 and 3 were redesigned to be more repairable.” 

Using a tool often employed by climate activists, As You Sow filed a shareholder resolution. As shareholders, they can introduce resolutions that other shareholders can vote on, thereby forcing the company to respond. 

At Apple and John Deere, shareholder resolutions have already been filed and, thanks to the success of this one from As You Sow, more filings are likely on the way, says Wiens.

“It's a smart strategy to use your status as a shareholder to raise these kinds of issues, because it demands a company response,” says Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University.

The question of timing, Perzanowski says, could be attributed to a combination of public pressure, a desire to get ahead of looming legislation and a growing understanding of the problem of electronic waste.

“Lots of device makers in the tech, auto and agricultural spaces are feeling the effects of public pressure around repair,” says Perzanowski. “They're being criticized by the press, consumers and the FTC.” 

Microsoft may also be using this as an opportunity to score some public goodwill and stave off potential legislation or regulation. “That's a strategy firms sometimes use, going along with private efforts so they can convince the government not to pass regulatory laws,” says Perzanowski. 

There’s also a business opportunity here, Wiens points out. If Apple, whose iPhone 13 is making headlines for being the most irreparable phone yet, is continuing to be so opposed to repairability, Microsoft can take a pro-consumer stance and have that be a differentiator.

While tech companies focus on seeming environmentally friendly, with Apple even hiring a former EPA administrator as its vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Perzanowski points out that this is not always the case. Tech companies like Apple contribute to the storm of e-waste produced annually, and without allowing consumers to fix their own devices, they're ensuring that consumers are forced to buy new ones, creating more waste.

[Related: Understanding the global chip shortage, a big crisis involving tiny components]

Microsoft is also more diversified in product and service offerings than a company like Apple, which is reliant on hardware sales for revenue. So this commitment might be easier for Microsoft to make than it would be for a company like Apple, says Perzanowski. 

Monitoring if Apple follows through on its promises will be crucial, as will watching what other policy interventions Microsoft agrees to moving forward. Microsoft is a member of trade associations that have lobbied against Right to Repair bills, so seeing if Microsoft leaves those associations will be a defining factor. 

“Microsoft is going to have to follow through,” says Wiens, “but if they do, this can be really big.” 

In a statement to Popular Science, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company has “been taking steps for years to improve device repairability and to expand the available choices for device repair.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network


LATEST NEWS

NEWS RELATED

Amazon Great Indian Festival: Top offers on Alexa, Fire TV, and Kindle during the sale

Amazon is hosting its Great Indian Festival sale offering some irresistible deals and discounts across categories and products. The sale that kicked off on October 3 was available for Prime members a day before. Amazon’s Fire Stick allows you to stream shows or movies on Prime Video, Disney Hotstar, YouTube,…

Read more: Amazon Great Indian Festival: Top offers on Alexa, Fire TV, and Kindle during the sale

Nothing by OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei May Launch its First Phone in Early 2022

© Provided by News18 Nothing by OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei May Launch its First Phone in Early 2022 Nothing by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei is reportedly planning to launch its first smartphone next year. The latest leak comes just days after Nothing announced a partnership with the US chipmaker Qualcomm.…

Read more: Nothing by OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei May Launch its First Phone in Early 2022

Heathrow's price hikes 'could put £100 on price of family break'

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The cost of a family summer holiday could soar by up to £100 next year due to Heathrow airport’s ‘outrageous’ price hikes, former British Airways boss Willie Walsh warned last night. Heathrow, which is owned by a consortium of billionaire investors, wants to…

Read more: Heathrow's price hikes 'could put £100 on price of family break'

Superman's new motto swaps 'American way' for 'a better tomorrow'

© Provided by CNET DC Superman DC We all know what Superman stands for. Now DC has updated the iconic superhero’s motto: Superman stands for “truth, justice and a better tomorrow.” Up until now Superman’s mission statement has been about “truth, justice, and the American Way,” a slogan that originated…

Read more: Superman's new motto swaps 'American way' for 'a better tomorrow'

Czech car sector to make 250,000 fewer vehicles this year due to chip shortage

Cars are parked in the courtyard of Skoda Auto's factory in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, as the company restarts production after shutting downdue to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) . Picture taken in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, April 27, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo PRAGUE, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Czech car…

Read more: Czech car sector to make 250,000 fewer vehicles this year due to chip shortage

Upgrade to Windows 11? Here's How You Can Check Whether Your PC is Compatible

© Provided by News18 Upgrade to Windows 11? Here’s How You Can Check Whether Your PC is Compatible Microsoft has recently unveiled the Windows 11 OS, and while it is good news for a lot of Windows PC users, there is a downside to it. The company had previously revealed…

Read more: Upgrade to Windows 11? Here's How You Can Check Whether Your PC is Compatible

Flipkart Big Diwali Sale Now Live: Best Smartphones You Can Buy Under Rs 15,000

© Provided by News18 Flipkart Big Diwali Sale Now Live: Best Smartphones You Can Buy Under Rs 15,000 Flipkart Big Diwali Sale is now live in India, and the sale event will go on till October 23. Customers planning to buy a budget smartphone can enjoy offers like temporary discounts,…

Read more: Flipkart Big Diwali Sale Now Live: Best Smartphones You Can Buy Under Rs 15,000

iPhone-style notch expected on Apple's next-gen MacBook Pro, says new leak

© Provided by The Indian Express Apple is expected to launch the new MacBook Pro tomorrow, but ahead of the event, some more last-minute leaks have popped up online about the company’s new laptop. However, unlike some leaks that actually turn into true predictions, this one seems more like a…

Read more: iPhone-style notch expected on Apple's next-gen MacBook Pro, says new leak

Deals of the day in Amazon sale: Apple Watch, Redmi smartphone, Lenovo laptop and more

Flipkart Big Diwali Sale Now Live: Cool Offers on iPhone 12, Pixel 4a and More

Amazon Great Indian Festival: Top offers computer accessories you can grab

Warm regards from Ironbridge Gorge ... ‘the birthplace of climate change'

Tech launches of the week: Bose SoundLink Flex, OnePlus 9RT, and more

What to expect from Apple's big Mac event on October 18

New WhatsApp safety feature; phone launches from OnePlus, Realme, Vivo and Samsung; ‘Get back to office' order for TCS employees and more top tech news of the week

Didn't change your Twitch password after the data leak? You should. Here's how

OTHER NEWS