Microsoft is the first major corporation to commit to the Right to Repair principle

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Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images) – The business will employ a consultant to look at how improving access to components and information may help reduce electronic waste. Microsoft has decided to make it simpler for consumers to fix their own devices, caving in to shareholder pressure. This is a significant and previously unheard-of victory for the Right-to-Repair movement.

The investor advocacy group As You Sow filed a shareholder resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June, requesting that Microsoft investigate the “environmental and social benefits of making its devices more easily repairable through measures such as the public provision of tools, parts, and repair instructions.” Prior to that decision, Microsoft, like many other tech firms, had effectively rigged the game such that their gadgets could only be repaired at approved shops, thereby creating a monopoly on repairs that restricted consumer freedom and made life more difficult for everyone.

However, according to Grist, Microsoft has now made a number of key concessions as a result of the resolution, including a promise to hire an independent consultant to study how increasing access to parts and information could reduce electronic waste and lessen harmful environmental impacts, as well as a commitment to act on the study’s findings by the end of 2022.

In a news release, Kelly McBee, trash program coordinator at As You Sow, stated, “This is a promising gesture by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state engagement in the right to repair movement.” “This arrangement will begin to allow users to fix their Microsoft devices outside of the limited network of approved repair shops, which is quite exciting.”

As You Sow decided to drop the shareholder resolution on Monday in response to Microsoft’s pledge to look at their maintenance issue. The victory is the latest in a long line of successes for the Right to Repair Movement: In June, the FTC unanimously agreed to formally adopt the position that people should be able to repair their own gadgets, and in July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the FTC to develop rules to prevent companies from establishing repair monopolies that prevent DIY or independent device repairs.