By Jon Fingas
Microsoft hasn’t been shy about wanting to improve the repairability of Surface devices, and that now includes the availability of spare parts. In a statement to iFixit, Microsoft says it plans “broad availability” of parts for individuals and independent repair shops in the first half of 2023. You can also expect complete repair manuals for the Surface Pro 9 by the end of this year. A wider repair network will be available in early 2023 with the help of a “major US retailer.”
That improved stance is reflected in the company’s latest designs. Microsoft says repairability was a “major focus” in the Surface Pro 9’s construction, and iFixit has confirmed as much in its independently run teardown of the Windows tablet. The user-accessible SSD is just the start. The battery is screwed in rather than glued, and the display is easier to remove when you’re digging into the internals. This is the “most repairable” Surface yet, according to iFixit, and a sharp contrast with the notoriously difficult-to-fix builds of the past.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has made nods toward do-it-yourself repair. The Surface Laptop 3 was easier to open, and even the extra-slim Surface Pro X had a user-replaceable SSD. iFixit also warns that it can’t truly judge the Surface Pro 9’s repairability until the manuals and parts are available. The RAM is still soldered on, too, even if it might offer added performance and energy savings as a result. This is a large step in the right direction, but not the definitive solution.
As with similar efforts by Apple, Google, Samsung and others, Microsoft isn’t acting strictly out of kindness. The tech industry is facing pressure from federal and state governments to improve repairability, including through “Right to Repair” legislation that requires access to components, documents and diagnostics. If Microsoft didn’t make the Surface lineup easier to fix on its own, governments might have stepped in.