Why Microsoft Wants to Make It Easier For You To Repair Your Devices

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In March, Irene Plenefisch, a senior director of government affairs at Microsoft, sent an email to the eight members of the Washington State Senate’s Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee, which was about to hold a hearing to discuss a bill intended to facilitate the repair of consumer electronics.

Typically, when consumer tech companies reach out to lawmakers concerning right-to-repair bills — which seek to make it easier for people to fix their devices, thus saving money and reducing electronic waste — it’s because they want them killed.

Plenefisch, however, wanted the committee to know that Microsoft, which is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, was on board with this one, which had already passed the Washington House.

“I am writing to state Microsoft’s support for E2SHB 1392,” also known as the Fair Repair Act, Plenefisch wrote in an email to the committee. “This bill fairly balances the interests of manufacturers, customers, and independent repair shops and, in doing so, will provide more options for consumer device repair.”

The Fair Repair Act stalled out a week later due to opposition from all three Republicans on the committee and Senator Lisa Wellman, a Democrat, and former Apple executive. (Apple frequently lobbies against right-to-repair bills, and during a hearing, Wellman defended the iPhone maker’s position that it is already doing enough on repair.) But despite the bill’s failure to launch this year, repair advocates say Microsoft’s support — a notable first for a major U.S. tech company — is bringing other manufacturers to the table to negotiate the details of other right-to-repair bills for the first time.

“We are in the middle of more conversations with manufacturers being way more cooperative than before,” Nathan Proctor, who heads the U.S. Public Research Interest Group’s right-to-repair campaign, told Grist. “And I think Microsoft’s leadership and willingness to be first created that opportunity.”

Across a wide range of sectors, from consumer electronics to farm equipment, manufacturers attempt to monopolize the repair of their devices by…