Microsoft considering changed approach to right-to-repair

Aiming to reduce e-waste.

Microsoft is re-considering its approach to right-to-repair following pressure from shareholders.

As reported by Grist (via VG247), the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow filed a report in June urging Microsoft to analyse the “environmental and social benefits” of making device repair easier, so that consumers can repair their own tech.

Microsoft will now run its own study into how increasing accessibility of parts could help reduce electronic waste and will take action by the end of next year.

In the past, some tech companies have been accused of making their devices purposefully difficult to repair to force consumers into paying for expensive repair services. Instead, many customers simply purchase brand new devices that increase the carbon footprint of manufacturing and contribute to e-waste.

While Microsoft has pledged to take action, this is only a first step. Kelly McBee, the waste program coordinator at As You Sow, initially met with the company who “presented a very antagonistic view of repair.”

However, following a shareholder resolution back in June, Microsoft’s attitude reportedly shifted. “Microsoft came back with different legal counsel and representatives on the line and said, ‘We are really changing our tune on this issue, we think this study is a great idea, let’s work together to make this change,'” said McBee. “Which is night and day.”

According to a statement from Microsoft to The Verge, though, the planned study will act as a “guide” for its “product design and plans for expanding device repair options”. It’s unclear, then, how much impact this will have on the right-to-repair movement.

Still, this could be a positive step if Microsoft takes the lead. Kyle Wiens, CEO of repair guide site iFixit has described the news as “a huge, landmark move” on Twitter.

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