Microsoft’s upcoming end to Windows 10 support to turn 240Mn computers obsolete, sparks e-waste concerns

Earlier this month, Microsoft had announced the imminent end of support for its widely used Windows 10 operating system. The ripples from this move continue to spread, sparking concerns about the environmental repercussions of potential electronic waste. According to a report from research firm Canalys, the upcoming termination of Windows 10 support could propel an estimated 240 million personal computers into obsolescence, triggering a surge in electronic waste. This staggering number of discarded devices could contribute an alarming 480 million kilograms of e-waste, equivalent to the weight of 320,000 cars. The environmental impact of such a disposal wave poses significant challenges, prompting a reevaluation of tech industry practices.

The environmental impact of such a disposal wave poses significant challenges, prompting a re-evaluation of tech industry practices. As the tech industry drives innovation, it concurrently grapples with the responsibility of mitigating the environmental impact of discarded electronics. “Turning end-of-life computers into the magnets that power sustainable technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines will help meet the rising global demand for electricity,” Peter Afiuny, Chief Commercial Officer at Noveon Magnetics, commented on the matter.

“Windows 10 will reach end of support (EOS) on October 14, 2025. While two years may seem like a long runway, ensuring a modernized infrastructure will help keep your organization productive and its data secure. We’re encouraged to see organizations realizing the benefits of Windows 11 by upgrading eligible devices to Windows 11 well ahead of the EOS date. Consider joining organizations like Westpac who recently leveraged Microsoft Intune, Windows Autopatch, and App Assure to efficiently move 40,000 employees to Windows 11, while also incorporating new Windows 11 devices as part of a regular hardware refresh cycle,” Microsoft revealed in a blog post on December 5, announcing the upcoming end of support for Windows 10.

While Microsoft offers Extended Security Updates (ESU) until October for Windows 10 devices, users are faced with a dilemma. The undisclosed annual fee associated with ESU raises questions about the economic viability of sticking with older PCs versus migrating to newer, supported systems. The potential cost-effectiveness of adopting newer technology, however, adds a layer of complexity to the decision-making process. If users wish to continue using Windows 10 after Microsoft ends the support for the same, then they will have the option of enrolling their PCs into a paid ESU subscription, Microsoft noted.

It seems that Microsoft’s bid to revitalize the sluggish PC market introduces a technological leap but also exacerbates the electronic waste predicament. Users find themselves at a crossroads, weighing the benefits of innovation against the environmental cost. In the face of this impending e-waste crisis, recycling technologies emerge as a potential solution. The recycling of hard drives from personal computers and servers is gaining traction, offering a sustainable alternative. Companies like Noveon Magnetics and Redwood Materials champion the cause of repurposing end-of-life electronics to power sustainable technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines.


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