Environmental Crisis Looms as Windows 10 Faces End-of-Support, Triggering E-Waste Surge

As the countdown to Windows 10’s end-of-support in October 2025 draws near, concerns are mounting over the potential environmental disaster that could unfold, with millions of outdated PCs destined for landfills. Canalys, an analyst firm, recently shed light on the looming crisis in its comprehensive assessment of the PC market and the impending end of Windows 10 support.

The critical issue at hand is not merely the conclusion of support for Windows 10; it’s the stringent hardware prerequisites of its successor, Windows 11. This includes compatibility requirements such as newer CPUs and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 security functionality. Canalys highlights a grim reality, stating that obsolete computers failing to meet Windows 11 specifications are unlikely to be recycled or refurbished by industry partners.

In Canalys’s words, “Despite the channel’s growing capabilities to support circularity, partners will not be able to refurbish and resell PCs unsupported by Windows 11.” This, in turn, is anticipated to result in an alarming estimated 240 million PCs transforming into electronic waste, constituting nearly a fifth of all Windows 10 devices. To put it into perspective, if these discarded laptops were stacked, they would form a pile reaching 600 kilometers taller than the moon.

While the scenario is undeniably stark, Canalys acknowledges that Microsoft does provide an option to extend support for Windows 10, albeit at a cost. Users can opt to pay for continued updates, a strategy reminiscent of the approach taken with Windows 7 after its support expired. This extension, if chosen, could grant users an additional three years of support. However, Canalys raises concerns about the potential cost-effectiveness of this approach, especially considering Microsoft’s historical trend of escalating costs for such extended support, as witnessed with Windows 7.

Despite the financial implications, upgrading to Windows 11 is touted as the more sensible path from a cost perspective. Canalys suggests this will likely be embraced by both businesses and individual users, providing a boon to PC manufacturers but casting a shadow over environmental considerations.

The environmental impact is a growing concern as Canalys predicts a resurgence in the PC market, projecting an 8% growth in 2024. This contrasts with the current year, which witnessed a sales slump affecting vendors, with Apple, in particular, grappling with declining Mac sales. The Windows 11 system requirements, including the need for TPM 2.0, have prompted multiple warnings about potential e-waste crises.

In October, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in the US presented an even grimmer outlook, forecasting that 400 million Windows 10 PCs could end up in landfills. The end of support for Windows 10, according to PIRG, might trigger the most significant surge in discarded computers ever recorded.

While it’s acknowledged that operating systems have a finite lifespan, the unique challenge with Windows 11 lies in its stringent requirements, particularly the demand for TPM 2.0, posing a formidable barrier to upgrades for numerous users and businesses—a scenario not encountered in previous transitions.

As concerns mount and calls for action intensify, the spotlight is now on Microsoft. Observers are keen to see how the tech giant responds to the impending e-waste crisis. There is hope that Microsoft might reconsider the pricing for extended support for Windows 10, possibly opting for a more reasonable approach compared to the escalating scale witnessed during the final years of Windows 7 support.

The urgency of addressing e-waste concerns aligns with Microsoft’s recent proactive stance on sustainability and easily repairable hardware. As the dialogue gains momentum, the tech community and environmental advocates eagerly await Microsoft’s response, hoping for a solution that balances the need for technological progress with responsible environmental stewardship.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcockhttps://www.nerdbite.com/
Founder | Head of PR At Nerd Bite, we are lucky to have Sam on our team. He is an expert in online PR, social media strategy, e-commerce, and news websites, with a wealth of knowledge that makes him a valuable asset. Sam's experience and skills have helped us deliver successful campaigns for clients and stay ahead of the competition. With his contributions, we are confident that we will continue to provide high-quality content and services to our readers and partners. sam@newswriteups.com

Latest stories