Repairability index: Microsoft hides the score of its barely repairable touchscreen laptops


Regarding the repairability index, Microsoft is no longer really playing the game. Taking advantage of the largesse of the device for touch-screen laptops, the company communicates less and less on this aspect.

Tested by Digital in mid-July, Microsoft’s small Surface Laptop Go 2 laptop had earned a 3-star rating. A few days later, it was downgraded to just 2 stars. A big difference in our rating scale between a product to avoid and another that we can recommend for purchase. Why such a change ? Quite simply because, as you probably know, our rating takes into account the repairability index, which laptop manufacturers are required to calculate and display for each of their references. However, the Surface Laptop Go 2 has no repairability index!

Microsoft seeps into a breach

We contacted Microsoft at the time of the test to obtain this score and incorporate it into our calculations, but the brand, explaining that the Surface Laptop Go 2 is more repairable than its predecessor, indicated that we could not obtain this missing information. “Microsoft is committed to the sustainability of its products. Indeed, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is more repairable than its predecessor. In addition to the SSD, the replaceable components now include the C-Cover (keyboard and trackpad), AB Cover (display), battery, as well as the Surflink cable, which helps extend the use of the device”, explained the press service of the manufacturer. Regardless, our rating system is not comprehensive: in the absence of a repairability score, the product has lost a precious star.

Ethically, we have the right to expect Microsoft to play the game and communicate the repairability scores of its products, even though Surface computers/tablets have been known since their launch in 2012 to be difficult to repair. Except that, legally, nothing obliges it. Indeed, Microsoft benefits from an exception provided for in the legislation related to the repairability index. Referring to article 1 of the decree of December 29, 2020 relating to the rating system for the calculation and display of the repairability index of laptop computers (based on European directive n°617/2013), the manufacturer reminds us that “the obligation to publish the repairability index only applies to certain types of laptop, excluding in particular laptops including a touch screen and a physical keyboard”.

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A bad student who hides his notebook

As a result, by visiting the sites of the main French high-tech sellers, we find that the product sheets of the Surface Pro 8, Laptop Studio or Surface Go 3 no longer display the famous repairability index. However, some of these products were entitled to a calculation in the rules of the art, such as the Surface Laptop Studio, whose this official document confirms the score of 4.3/10. And strangely, some Microsoft flagship products still display their repairability index with merchants, even though they are not forced to. This is the case of the Surface Laptop 4 and its unflattering score of 4.1/10. The Surface Book 2 and 3, as well as the Surface Laptop Go (first generation), remain the products with the worst repairability scores (3.5 and 3.6).

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In this context, it is easy to understand why Microsoft is so reluctant to communicate the repairability indices of its products. But this is precisely the whole purpose of the approach, which discriminates against products that cannot be easily repaired, namely to encourage their manufacturers to make efforts to improve the rating. This is also the reason why we took the decision at the Digital to make it an important criterion for product rating. Microsoft’s answer is quite surprising in that, if the Surface Laptop Go 2 does better than its predecessor, it would have been rewarding to quantify the progress made in terms of repairability through this index.

To believe that the game was not worth the candle from the point of view of the manufacturer who, however, has made ambitious commitments to reduce the environmental footprint of its activity. The company is thus aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 and wants to be very transparent on its progress in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, waste reduction and the impact on ecosystems.

We asked several dealers about the lack of repairability index on the products found and all made the same comments. “It happens that some brands do not communicate this index [et] this seems to be increasingly common for Microsoft products in the PC department, where nearly 100% of models display the index even when it is not very flattering.” “I don’t think it’s really bad for the brand, considering that if the repairability index is something that is becoming more commonplace, it’s generally not a determining criterion for choosing our customers, who will pay more attention to the technical sheet of the computer in relation to its price”notes a department manager.

We asked Microsoft again about their policy regarding the repairability index. This article will be updated when its official answer reaches us.

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