Microsoft has announced that the end of support for Windows 10 will be in mid-October 2025, which means no further security updates or fixes will be provided by the company. This has created a looming electronic waste avalanche as many computers cannot make the switch to Windows 11 and will be rendered unusable. Even if only small components are missing, the compatibility test does not specify the exact problem or how to fix it. Therefore, many devices will be discarded once Windows 10 expires.
The current legal situation does not address the issue of software obsolescence and its impact on the durability and longevity of devices. The ecodesign regulation only applies to new products being introduced into the market, leaving existing devices unsupported. The proposal on the “right to repair” aims to extend the length of time hardware is repairable, but it is of no use if new software makes devices unusable.
Since January 1, 2022, manufacturers of digital devices have an obligation to provide secure operating systems and software updates for a reasonable time. However, the European Commission has not yet specified what constitutes a reasonable amount of time. The obligation to update does not solve the problem either.
To avoid contributing to the electronic waste avalanche, consumers can act sustainably by reducing their digital footprint, extending the lifespan of existing devices, and choosing alternative operating systems. In addition, the introduction of repairability standards can make devices easier to fix and prolong their overall lifespan.
Moreover, platforms such as c’t offer valuable knowledge on IT and technology that can help consumers stay informed and make sustainable choices. By subscribing to these platforms, consumers can access exclusive tests, guides, and background information for various magazines. The first month is even free, with a low monthly fee charged after that.