Xbox owners may soon be open to new freedom. Reports have begun leaking over the past few days regarding a recent agreement between Microsoft and non-profit investor group As You Sow, the latter attempting to persuade large companies to make changes to better the environment. While consumers have always technically been permitted to repair their own devices and accessories, Microsoft has made it notoriously difficult to do so by withholding repair instructions and necessary parts. The recent agreement asks Microsoft to bring in an independent consultant to measure the environmental ramifications of letting Xbox owners make their own fixes, with the findings scheduled to be made public knowledge by May 2022. If this study shows any benefit to letting consumers have this freedom, Microsoft has agreed to make spare parts and instructions available by the tail end of 2022 at the latest.
This may all sound well and good, but Microsoft is currently a member of multiple lobbying groups that oppose right-to-repair bills. What signaled this massive change of heart, and is it genuine? It will take a little longer to see if this dream come true is all it’s cracked up to be. The company has also stated that it will become completely ‘carbon negative’ by 2030, meaning that this right-to-repair policy might become more important than ever, contingent on the independent findings. However, allowing customers to do this may lead to significant potential for security and piracy risks, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
According to As You Sow, electronics account for the fastest-growing waste stream on Earth, with over 70% of computer-related emissions produced during manufacturing. If consumers are allowed to repair their own items and extend the lifespan of said products, this would help reduce overall pollution.
Public pressure may be what’s needed to bring Microsoft to its knees. Currently, Microsoft’s Terms of Service negate the warranty on any device showing damage or modifications done by someone other than an authorized professional. Basically, it’s time to change that.