The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

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Microsoft's response came in exchange for the shareholder resolution being withdrawn.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.

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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.

Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. 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. For more information on our work around sustainability, including repairability, please consult the Microsoft Devices Sustainability Report.

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