Microsoft gives a win to the 'right to repair' crowd [Updated]
The right to repair movement's fight isn't over, but a victory's a victory.
What you need to know
- The right to repair movement is focused on giving consumers the means to repair their own devices.
- Many large companies and manufacturers have fought right to repair initiatives.
- Microsoft has given a response to a shareholder resolution that discusses the right to repair topic.
As You Sow, a shareholder representative that filed a resolution demanding that Microsoft up its "right to repair" game, recently received a response from the company in question. The resolution was spurred due to negative publicity surrounding Microsoft's anti-repair stance as well as the looming threat of impending legislation regarding the topic.
Microsoft's response came in exchange for the shareholder resolution being withdrawn. This is what the tech giant agreed to do, as reported by As You Sow:
- 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.
There's a lot of vague wording in those capitulations, so what the actual material consequences of Microsoft's proposed actions will be remains anyone's guess. Still, the specific namedrops of Xbox and Surface devices do give some hope for those looking to fix their consoles and laptops at home with their own two hands rather than by shipping off their device for an official repair.
This is not an end to the "right to repair" fight, far from it. But it is a victory, even if the size of it has yet to be revealed. Between White House and shareholder pressure, the repair movement has acquired some fuel with which to maintain its opposition to the policies of companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
Update October 7, 2021 at 5:10 p.m. ET: Microsoft has provided the following statement.
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Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's a cute front but Microsoft suddenly endorsing 'right to repair' is as hilarious as saying "Facebook unanimously decides to support privacy".
Both of the current boxes are very high on repairability and, most importantly, MS has dropped the old "if you open it you void the warranty" claim.
Mind you, the OP is about MS promising to *study* environmental and repairability factors. Big deal. The most that might come out of the whole thing is a policy like STEAM is touting for their SteamDeck; you bought it, you own it, you can do whatever you want. They'll offer some replacement components (likely joysticks) to consumers who wish to indulge. But their warranty will not cover damage caused by the user. And, of course, they'll be the judge of what is what. Don't expect being able to do more than swap storage or upgrade memory (at profitable prices). Mobile devices are *not* going to become fully modular like build-your-own desktops. Because the portion of tbe customers who care about repairability are far far less than those who want thin and light toys. Right to repair is, like DRM handwringing, a vocal minority concern.
The masses don't care and catering to their preferences is more profitable.