Microsoft Has Committed to Right to Repair

Facing pressure from investors and a shifting legal environment, the PC giant has decided to make it easier for people to repair their own stuff.
October 7, 2021, 4:36pm
Microsoft
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State of Repair is Motherboard's exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.

Microsoft just promised it’s going to make it easier for its customers to repair the products it sells in the near future. As first reported by Grist, the company will study the environmental impact of right-to-repair and act on its findings by the end of the next year.

The initiative is a reaction to a shareholder resolution filed in June 2021 that demanded the company seriously consider the environmental impact of making its products easier to repair, which itself was fueled by the broader right to repair movement, which has been gaining steam and momentum for years. The shareholders partnered with As You Sow, a non-profit specializing in shareholder advocacy, to help them put pressure on Microsoft. 

It seems to have worked. “This is an encouraging step by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state activity in the right to repair movement,” Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow, said in a press release. “Excitingly, this agreement will begin to allow consumers to repair their Microsoft devices outside the limited network of authorized repair shops.”

As You Sow on Monday agreed to withdraw the shareholder resolution. In exchange, Microsoft promised to “complete a third-party study evaluating the environmental and social impacts associated with increasing consumer access to repair and determine new mechanisms to increase access to repair, including for 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.”

The right-to-repair movement has won several key victories in the past year. People want to fix their own stuff and companies and politicians are starting to make it easier. The European Union has moved to standardize phone chargers, a recent Biden executive order paved the way for right-to-repair, and the FCC has formally adopted the position that people should be able to fix their own stuff.