Microsoft Considers the Impacts of Easy Repair Accessibility

| October 12, 2021
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Conversations on Microsoft and their policies may be looking greener for the future.

It’s not uncommon for technological hardware consumers to seek repair help when their device has an unfortunate issue. However, most tech users don’t want to ship their products out for repair.

Recent accounts have documented Microsoft’s push for “right-to-repair” policies to be implemented on the company’s products. The right-to-repair movement is a growing conversation that’s advocating tech companies and governments to allow these companies to allow easier access to repair their own products, either by themselves or through other third-party services. This is historic as it will be the first time a big tech company is in favour of the right-to-repair movement.

The main issue with the right-to-repair legislation is that various tech companies like Microsoft would rather limit repairs and encourage consumers to re-buy the same product or pay a high cost for parts from the company themselves—sometimes tacking on shipping costs to the repair centres as well.

The environmental issue with the current policies is that some parts can be repaired versus putting in brand-new parts and throwing out the repairable part. It’s similar to when a vehicle’s muffler starts to rust, but it can be repaired by welding it back rather than buying a whole new muffler. The bottom line is that consumers shouldn’t have to be forced to buy new parts when there are other solutions available but blocked by the law.

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The current issue with Microsoft’s Xbox and their stance on supporting the right-to-repair policy is that they are members of oppositional groups like the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The ESA wrote that if consumers were freely given the right to easily repair their products, there would be a ““significant potential for security and piracy risks,” and that “right to repair” supporters exaggerate the environmental impact of legislation as it relates to consoles.”

The right-to-repair positive group, “As You Sow”, rebuts the ESA’s comments as they wrote in a release, “Electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and nearly 70% of the emissions associated with personal computing devices arise during production. Extending device lifespan through repair can help mitigate the upstream mining and refining toxins and emissions and downstream landfill pollution.” Clearly, there’s no ‘exaggeration’ here as the data provides evidence about the impact of being able to repair one’s own device through any means.

The ESA brings up ‘piracy’ as an issue. It is fair to understand that game developers and publishers may lose money if consumers are modifying or “jailbreaking” their devices, but it comes at what cost to the planet. Microsoft’s push for change is definitely an optimistic step towards other tech companies to potentially do the same.

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