A few weeks ago, Apple announced that it would start selling aftermarket parts so you can fix your own iPhone, in one of the biggest wins for the right to repair the move in years. Now, in a smaller, but still welcome move, Microsoft has in partnership with iFixit to sell tools designed to make repairing Surface devices easier. It’s a sign that the industry maybe, just maybe, is really listening to user feedback.
(Or these companies are just preparing to imminent pressure from governments. Either way, I’ll take it.)
Surface devices have been notoriously difficult to repair in the past. Microsoft has made some positive changes over the past few years – the original Surface Laptop scored 0/10 on the iFixit Repairability Scale, while the Surface Laptop 3 got a 5/10 – but it can still be difficult, even for enthusiasts, to deal with some repairs.
Microsoft’s partnership with iFixit will allow IFixit Pro Independent Repairers, Microsoft Authorized Service Providers, Microsoft Experience Centers, and Microsoft Business Customers can purchase repair tools at iFixit.com. In other words, it’s not for ordinary users, but it’s better than nothing.
These tools are designed by Microsoft and built by iFixit, and so far include three tools (plus accessories) that make it easier for repairers to peel and re-bond adhesive for certain surface models while minimizing potential errors. As stated by iFixit:
“One of the most difficult aspects of the Surface line repair is to work successfully with adhesive. The adhesive must be loosened precisely without damaging other components. When reassembling, obtaining a strong bond requires precise application of force. While not required for a DIY repair, these new tools are designed to prevent damage and will help technicians perform a high volume of repairs, as well as improve accuracy and match grip. at the plant level.
iFixit also says it’s working on new repair manuals for Surface devices, although it’s not clear if Microsoft is helping with this part. Other repair tools are also in the works.
Let’s be clear: these aren’t repairs your average Surface buyer will want to do; these tools are primarily intended for small repair shops and the like. Still, if their availability and Microsoft’s blessing at least mean that it’ll be easier to find a repair shop that might be able to fix your Surface device rather than having to send it all back to Microsoft.
It’s a small step towards a future where everyone has more choices on how to fix their own devices. True, the ultimate goal is for devices to be designed with repairability in mind – or at the very least, for companies to provide full access to repair tools and guides. Microsoft still has a long way to go.
But for now, recent changes from Microsoft (and Apple) show that the tech industry may be at an inflection point when it comes to the right to repair. At the very least, the changes of these giants, however small, are likely to encourage other manufacturers to do the same. A man can hope anyhow.