Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, has announced it will increase customers’ options to repair devices by the end of 2022. The announcement comes in response to a resolution filed by As You Sow, Berkeley, California, a nonprofit organization promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, encouraging Microsoft to join the right to repair movement.
“This is an encouraging step by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state activity in the right to repair movement,” says Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow. “Excitingly, this agreement will begin to allow consumers to repair their Microsoft devices outside the limited network of authorized repair shops.”
As You Sow says electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the world. About 70 percent of the emissions associated with personal computing devices come during production. Extending device life span through repair can help mitigate the upstream mining and refining toxins and emissions and downstream landfill pollution.
In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report to Congress determining there's little evidence justifying original equipment manufacturer restrictions of instructions, parts and tools to the public.
In exchange for As You Sow’s withdrawal of its shareholder resolution, Microsoft will:
- complete a third-party study evaluating the environmental and social impacts associated with increased consumer access to repair and determine new mechanisms to increase access to repair, including for Microsoft Surface devices and Xbox consoles;
- expand the availability of certain parts and repair documentation beyond Microsoft’s authorized service provider network; and,
- initiate new mechanisms to enable and facilitate local repair options for consumers.
Additional shareholder resolutions on right to repair have been filed with Apple and tractor manufacturer Deere & Co. This is a result of President Biden's executive order instructing the FTC to issue rules removing manufacturer restrictions on third-party and do-it-yourself repair of tractors and cellphones.
“I applaud the sincerity that Microsoft brought to the table in negotiating this agreement and hope additional manufacturers follow suit,” McBee says. “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.”