Microsoft dabbles in self-repair with Surface devices now DIY-friendlier

Replacement components available in US, Canada, France only for now

Microsoft has joined in with the self-repair trend and made available some replacement components for its Surface devices via the Microsoft Store, though only in a handful of countries to begin with.

The Redmond giant's Surface line of laptops and tablets has been around for at least a decade, but the devices themselves have not always been easy to repair, often needing to be replaced instead, as The Register has reported in the past.

However, the Windows titan pledged to do better to help customers independently repair their own Surface systems back in 2021, and has been making some progress towards this goal with models that could at least be opened up and parts accessed.

Now Microsoft is making available some replacement components to "technically inclined consumers" for out-of-warranty self-repair efforts, the company said.

Customers buying a replacement part will also get "relevant collateral components," including screws if applicable, but any tools needed for the repair are apparently sold separately through iFixit.

The range of components available includes displays, solid state drives (SSDs), batteries, cameras, USB ports and some covers and doors, although the number of replaceable items varies depending upon the Surface device in question.

Announcing the move on its Devices Blog, Microsoft VP for Device Services & Product Engineering Tim McGuiggan claimed the company was committed to delivering what customers want and need in a premium device, which apparently includes the ability to repair it in addition to performance, design, and build quality.

"While we have always offered world-class warranty and repair services via Microsoft support, we have been working to increase repair options by designing products that are easier to repair and by expanding our network of Authorized Service Providers," he said.

However, while the replacement components will be available direct to consumers through the Microsoft Store, this will initially be limited to the US, Canada and France, with updates on additional markets promised. Commercial resellers in all Surface markets will have access through existing channels, however.

Of course, we are sure this has nothing to do with the European Commission recently adopting a new set of right to repair rules that mean vendors are required to offer to repair electronic devices, except when to do so would be more expensive than replacement.

Apple also launched its own self-service repair program last year, which we are obliged to mention or else be accused of being a bunch of spiteful Apple haters doing down the Cupertino corporation by omitting this information.

Campaign group Right To Repair Europe told The Register that the move from Microsoft is a "step in the right direction: it's positive to see some spare parts become available, as well as entire service guide for products freely downloadable."

That said: "The pricing remains an issue - for example replacing a wi-fi module is $150 for the Surface Pro 9, which seems very pricey. We look forward to see more affordable repairs in the future," it added.

The initiative should also be launched across all of Europe and not just cover Microsoft hardware.

"If Microsoft is really serious about right to repair, they should extend the lifetime of its Windows operating system: their plans to discontinue Windows 10 in 2025 could leave millions of computers behind," the org concluded. ®

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