PIRG petitions Microsoft to extend the life of Windows 10

Do not go gentle into that overflowing landfill

The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has delivered a petition to Microsoft calling on the company to rethink the impending abandonment of Windows 10 in the face of millions of PCs potentially being rendered eligible for landfill overnight.

There are now less than two years until Microsoft is due to cut support for Windows 10, and at current estimates, 400 million PCs can't make the jump to Windows 11.

The petition, addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, criticizes its plans and states that customers expect their devices to last rather than be rendered obsolete by an arbitrary decision. PIRG warns that tipping that much hardware into landfills is somewhat at odds with the company's stance on the environment.

The petition reads: "All software reaches a point at which it's no longer supported, but when the consequences to our environment are this large we shouldn't accept it."

As a reminder, while Windows 10 was largely backwards-compatible with computers running older operating systems, Microsoft slapped hardware requirements on Windows 11 that rendered machines even just a few years old unable to upgrade – the main issues center on the CPU and TPM requirements.

There was an initial burst of Windows 11 adoption by those with suitable hardware. There has been a slow trickle for the rest as devices have been replaced. With less than two years to go, Windows 11 is far from where it needs to be if it is to send Windows 10 into the abyss.

However, with updates choked off in 2025, users will have to make some difficult – and potentially expensive – decisions. Sure, no Windows 10 device will suddenly stop working, but users will have to consider either a change of operating system or a change of hardware to remain protected.

Expressing surprise at Microsoft's decision, which seems at odds with its stance on the environment, PIRG's Designed to Last campaign director Lucas Rockett Gutterman said: "Not only is this bad for consumers, it's also bad for the planet, since the outdated computers will add to our growing piles of toxic e-waste."

The Register put it to Gutterman that one option available to users is to switch to an alternative operating system. He replied that while the open source community worked hard to support hardware abandoned by other vendors, such a switch is more complex for institutions including schools and hospitals that rely on software which only works with Windows.

He said: "It just doesn't make sense for Microsoft to push these institutions to dispose of and replace PCs that are otherwise functional and still helping students and patients. The easiest solution is for Microsoft to extend support."

Microsoft is not alone in forcing users onto a disposability treadmill to get users to replace hardware. Gutterman noted: "Many manufacturers, including Apple and Google, are using software obsolescence to push us to replace perfectly functional devices."

However, things are changing. Apple has indicated it will support the US right-to-repair law, and Google recently bowed to pressure to extend Chromebook updates to 10 years.

There must be a time for software support to be pulled. However, with some seemingly arbitrary constraints applied to prevent upgrades, disquiet over the environmental and otherwise impact of Microsoft's decision is inevitable.

At the time of writing, Gutterman told us he has not heard back from Microsoft about the issue, and neither has The Register. ®

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