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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Microsoft’s Windows 10 support termination raises concern

Microsoft's proposal to offer security updates for Windows 10 devices until October 2028, albeit at an undisclosed annual cost.

Canalys Research has sounded the alarm over Microsoft’s decision to terminate support for the widely used Windows 10 operating system by October 2025. While the move is poised to usher in the next generation of the OS, Windows 11, concerns loom large over the environmental impact of potentially discarding around 240 million personal computers (PCs).

Weight of E-Waste

Canalys Research estimates that the electronic waste generated from these obsolete PCs could weigh a staggering 480 million kilograms, equivalent to the weight of 320,000 cars. This impending surge in e-waste raises significant environmental concerns, as disposal of electronic devices poses a serious threat to our planet.

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Security Concerns vs. Environmental Impact

While many PCs may continue to function after the termination of OS support, Canalys warns that the demand for devices lacking security updates could plummet. Microsoft’s proposal to offer security updates for Windows 10 devices until October 2028, albeit at an undisclosed annual cost, is met with skepticism. The concern is that if historical pricing trends persist, the transition to newer PCs might become a more cost-effective option, leading to a higher number of older PCs being discarded.

AI-Powered Savior for the PC Market?

Amid the uncertainty surrounding Windows 10’s termination, Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 11, boasting advanced artificial intelligence technology, is seen as a potential game-changer. The hope is that Windows 11 could breathe new life into the sluggish PC market, reducing the number of older PCs heading for landfills.

Microsoft’s Silence on Environmental Impact

Despite the mounting concerns, Microsoft has yet to respond to inquiries about the environmental consequences of disposing of Windows 11-incompatible devices. The lack of clarity on this front leaves a crucial aspect unaddressed, as environmentalists and consumers alike seek assurance that tech giants are taking responsibility for the lifecycle of their products.

Sustainable Technologies and the Role of Recycling

The Canalys report highlights the potential benefits of recycling components from personal computers and data storage servers. Repurposing hard drives and other components can contribute to sustainable technologies such as electric vehicles and wind turbines, addressing the growing global demand for clean energy. Noveon Magnetics Chief Commercial Officer Peter Afiuny emphasizes the importance of repurposing end-of-life computers for sustainable technologies, signaling a shift toward a more circular tech economy.

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As part of the solution, battery recycling firm Redwood Materials points to the potential for nearly infinite battery recycling. Recovering valuable metals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper from discarded devices not only minimizes environmental impact but also addresses the scarcity of these critical materials. This approach aligns with the growing global awareness of the need for responsible electronic waste management.