Microsoft has acceded to a lawsuit from activist shareholders who wanted the company to make their Surface and Xbox hardware easier to repair.
As You Sow, an investor advocacy group, has filed a shareholder resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) targeting Microsoft hardware.
Microsoft is primarily a software company, but it has a billion dollar Surface business and makes the Xbox game console. Hardware-wise, though, it’s not on the scale of Apple, Samsung, Dell, HP, or Lenovo.
iFixit, which rates computer hardware manufacturers from 0 to 10 based on repairability, criticized the way Apple, Samsung and Microsoft design their products, saying companies are preventing consumers and repairers from accessing components and tools for repairing equipment, such as telephones, desktops, etc. headphones and smart watches.
Slowness of production chains
Microsoft is an interesting target. The company is already interested in repairability, having introduced the Surface Laptop 3, whose keyboard can be easily removed by repairmen to access the motherboard. Right-to-repair activist iFixit notes that this Surface device “has confidently moved in a better and more repairable direction.”
But its influence on hardware comes mostly through Windows OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, and HP, as well as through the Azure cloud.
Change is also slow in material production chains. As You Sow announced this week that it filed a request with the SEC in June for Microsoft to “explore the environmental and social benefits of making its devices easier to repair through measures such as making tools, parts and instructions available to the public. repair”.
Planned obsolescence in the viewer
As Sow put it, your SEC shareholder resolution targeted Microsoft because its products create “premature landfills.”
“Microsoft is positioning itself as a leader on environmental and climate issues, but it facilitates the premature dumping of its devices by limiting consumer access to device repairs,” said Kelly McBee, coordinator of the waste management program. Waste of As You Sow, in a press release.
“To take real action on sustainability and relieve pressure on the extraction of scarce resources, including precious metals, the company must extend the life of its devices by facilitating widespread access to repair. “
As You Sow highlights the glaring contradiction between the tech giants’ stance on carbon emissions and their consumer policies. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have boldly pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 while launching new consumer hardware, networking, and cloud computing products.
A group of European user associations this week voiced the same criticism of Microsoft, pointing to the logic of planned obsolescence. Cigref, accompanied by Beltug, CIO Platform Nederland and VOICE, asks in a press release published on Friday, October 8, that the publisher “make its public speech in accordance with the reality of its commercial policy.”
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