Activist shareholders have convinced Microsoft to dramatically expand its “Right to Repair” efforts by the end of 2022.
“This is an encouraging step by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state activity in the right to repair movement,” says Kelly McBee of As You Sow, which describes itself as the non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. “Excitingly, this agreement will begin to allow consumers to repair their Microsoft devices outside the limited network of authorized repair shops.”
While Microsoft isn’t a leading hardware maker by any measure, it does ship millions of Surface PCs and devices, Xbox videogame consoles, and peripherals of all kinds. And so its embrace of Right to Repair is notable and will lead, hopefully, to other gigantic corporations following it down the same path. This is the first time that shareholders have convinced a hardware maker to embrace Right to Repair, but there are similar shareholder resolutions filed with Apple and Deere & Co. (the tractor maker).
As You Sow notes that electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and that nearly 70 percent of the emissions associated with personal computing devices arise during production. By allowing customers to more easily repair those electronics, Microsoft can help keep them stay in use for longer time periods and minimize the damage caused by having to unnecessarily build replacements.
Microsoft has agreed to complete a third-party study evaluating the environmental impact of broadening the access to repair locations for its Surface and Xbox hardware. It will also expand the availability of certain parts and repair documentation beyond its authorized service provider network. And it will initiate new mechanisms to enable and facilitate local repair options for consumers.
“I applaud the sincerity that Microsoft brought to the table in negotiating this agreement and hope additional manufacturers follow suit,” McBee added. “Microsoft’s action demonstrates that the company recognizes that extending the lifetime of its devices through repair is essential to meeting its climate goals and that the company is serious about taking action to do so.”