Microsoft vows to make its Surface laptops, Xbox kit easier to fix by 2022

Spare parts, repair manuals more easily available in victory for right to repair ... when it happens

Microsoft has pledged to help folks independently repair their own broken Surface laptops and Xbox consoles by making spare parts and information more easily available by the end of 2022.

Tech giants like Microsoft and Apple have been criticized for making it difficult for customers to fix their own gizmos. Replacement parts are only available through official channels, such as their own repair services and accredited third-party companies, and systems are designed to only accept these sanctioned components. There are also strict warranty rules, meaning Microsoft and the like will only bother mending devices that have been recently purchased.

All of this means the turnover of smartphones, laptops, and game consoles is high. Customers are forced to throw out their goods and replace them with new ones. Electronic waste and junk piles up. As You Sow, a non-profit organization that is a Microsoft investor, filed a shareholder resolution pushing the Windows giant to make it easier for owners to fix their broken devices.

surface duo

Microsoft's Surface Duo cops 1 repairability point for each of its screens: That's 2/10


"Shareholders request that the [Microsoft] board prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on the environmental and social benefits of making company devices more easily repairable by consumers and independent repair shops," the group wrote.

Microsoft has now, under this pressure, agreed to make certain parts and repair manuals available beyond its official Authorized Service Provider network, as Grist explained, and to study the environmental and social impacts of giving people more options to fix their own devices, particularly Surface laptops and Xbox consoles.

“Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability,“ a spokesperson for the IT giant told The Register. “We also have a longstanding commitment to building high-quality, innovative, and safe devices that customers love. We have been taking steps for years to improve device repairability and to expand the available choices for device repair.

“As You Sow asked us to investigate the connections between our sustainability commitments and device repairability. It was a productive discussion, and we have agreed to undertake that important study, the results of which will be used to guide our product design and plans for expanding device repair options for our customers.”

Electronic junk is the fastest growing type of waste in the world; nearly 70 per cent of greenhouse emissions associated with personal computing devices are spewed during the production stage, the non-profit org claimed. The Right to Repair movement has gained momentum over the years, and Congress in the US this year introduced a bill, the Fair Repair Act, requiring vendors to make spare parts available to third-party repair shops.

“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 statement. “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.” ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption
    With the benefit of maybe revitalizing the x86 giant’s foundry business

    Analysis Here's something that would have seemed outlandish only a few years ago: to help fuel Intel's future growth, the x86 giant has vowed to do what it can to make the open-source RISC-V ISA worthy of widespread adoption.

    In a presentation, an Intel representative shared some details of how the chipmaker plans to contribute to RISC-V as part of its bet that the instruction set architecture will fuel growth for its revitalized contract chip manufacturing business.

    While Intel invested in RISC-V chip designer SiFive in 2018, the semiconductor titan's intentions with RISC-V evolved last year when it revealed that the contract manufacturing business key to its comeback, Intel Foundry Services, would be willing to make chips compatible with x86, Arm, and RISC-V ISAs. The chipmaker then announced in February it joined RISC-V International, the ISA's governing body, and launched a $1 billion innovation fund that will support chip designers, including those making RISC-V components.

    Continue reading
  • FBI warns of North Korean cyberspies posing as foreign IT workers
    Looking for tech talent? Kim Jong-un's friendly freelancers, at your service

    Pay close attention to that resume before offering that work contract.

    The FBI, in a joint advisory with the US government Departments of State and Treasury, has warned that North Korea's cyberspies are posing as non-North-Korean IT workers to bag Western jobs to advance Kim Jong-un's nefarious pursuits.

    In guidance [PDF] issued this week, the Feds warned that these techies often use fake IDs and other documents to pose as non-North-Korean nationals to gain freelance employment in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Additionally, North Korean IT workers may accept foreign contracts and then outsource those projects to non-North-Korean folks.

    Continue reading
  • Elon Musk says Twitter buy 'cannot move forward' until spam stats spat settled
    A stunning surprise to no one in this Solar System

    Elon Musk said his bid to acquire and privatize Twitter "cannot move forward" until the social network proves its claim that fake bot accounts make up less than five per cent of all users.

    The world's richest meme lord formally launched efforts to take over Twitter last month after buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the biz. He declined an offer to join the board of directors, only to return asking if he could buy the social media platform outright at $54.20 per share. Twitter's board resisted Musk's plans at first, installing a "poison pill" to hamper a hostile takeover before accepting the deal, worth over $44 billion.

    But then it appears Musk spotted something in Twitter's latest filing to America's financial watchdog, the SEC. The paperwork asserted that "fewer than five percent" of Twitter's monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the first quarter of 2022 were fake or spammer accounts, which Musk objected to: he felt that figure should be a lot higher. He had earlier proclaimed that ridding Twitter of spam bots was a priority for him, post-takeover.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022