Shareholders strain Microsoft into increasing its right-to-repair efforts

The Surface Pro 8's replaceable SSD.
Enlarge / The Surface Pro 8’s replaceable SSD.

Andrew Cunningham

Microsoft’s Xbox and Surface {hardware} could also be getting simpler to restore, in response to a press launch from shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow. According to the announcement, Microsoft has agreed to judge and broaden the restore choices for its merchandise “by the end of 2022.” Specifically, the corporate has agreed to:

  • Complete a third-party examine evaluating the environmental and social impacts related to growing client entry to restore and decide new mechanisms to extend entry to restore, together with for Surface gadgets and Xbox consoles
  • Expand the supply of sure elements and restore documentation past Microsoft’s Authorized Service Provider community
  • Initiate new mechanisms to allow and facilitate native restore choices for shoppers

These are all fairly imprecise ensures, and so they do not imply that your subsequent Xbox or Surface pill will out of the blue change into totally user-serviceable. But the commitments do not less than recommend that, long-term, it is going to be simpler to get elements for these gadgets once they break, and it is going to be simpler to discover a store that may make the repairs without having to go on to Microsoft. According to a report from Grist, a abstract of the third-party examine can be shared with the general public by May of 2022.

Microsoft made the commitments in response to a June 2021 shareholder decision from As You Sow, a nonprofit that “promote[s] environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.” We usually hear about “right to repair” within the context of state and federal laws or government orders, however these efforts have moved slowly within the face of legislative gridlock and trade opposition. Shareholder-driven initiatives like this one are a extra direct, albeit piecemeal, technique to tackle the issue within the meantime.

Microsoft’s {hardware} division has taken child steps within the path of creating its merchandise simpler to restore of their most up-to-date iterations, together with Surface Laptops with totally accessible innards and replaceable SSDs on some Surface Pro fashions. But these modifications solely appear to be enhancements as a result of Microsoft did so poorly on this entrance for thus a few years; as documented by teardown websites like iFixit, a number of generations of Surface Pro are almost unimaginable to open with out destroying. And as we detailed in our Surface Pro 8 evaluate, it’s tough to seek out SSDs which are bodily sufficiently small to suit contained in the pill’s replaceable SSD slot.

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