Microsoft commits to support “Right to Repair”

According to Grist, Microsoft plans to study how increasing access to information and parts for repairing its devices can reduce its carbon footprint. It intends to act on its findings before the end of 2022. That means making repair instruction manuals and parts available outside Microsoft’s own authorized repair network. Microsoft reached an agreement with the nonprofit shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, which focuses on environmental and social corporate responsibility.

In June, As You Sow filed a shareholder resolution criticizing Microsoft’s device reparability restrictions while Microsoft pledged to reduce its carbon footprint. The argument behind the resolution is that electronic waste is a critical environmental issue and that if consumers are more easily able to repair their devices, they’ll throw them away less often.

This week, Microsoft announced it would increase the reparability of its devices in apparent support of the “Right to Repair” movement. Microsoft agreed with a shareholder advocacy group on apparently environmental grounds.

Many companies in recent years have been criticized for only allowing certain vendors to repair the devices they sell, Apple being a primary example. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently expressed support for Right to Repair—a movement maintaining that manufacturers make it easier for customers to repair the products they buy themselves or make repair materials easier for third-party vendors to acquire. The filing from As You Sow criticizes Microsoft’s lobbying against federal Right to Repair bills in the US in the past.

iFixit told Grist that shareholder resolutions, like the one from As You Sow, have been effectiveness in prompting climate action.

“We’ve seen shareholder resolutions become a significant tool for climate activists,” iFixit US policy director Kerry Sheehan said. “We’re seeing it get adopted in the repair context as well in part because these are very connected.”