Why Microsoft extended Windows 10 support for schools for $1

Thousands of PIRG supporters and shareholder advocates with Green Century Capital Management called for longer-lasting computers. The tech giant listened.

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Douglass Guernsey

Former Shareholder Advocate, Green Century Funds Capital Management

Microsoft* announced that schools can pay as little as $1 per computer to extend their Windows 10 security updates. This decision came after PIRG delivered more than 20,000 petition signatures calling on Microsoft to extend the life of computers with Windows 10 operating systems and then teamed up with shareholder advocates from Green Century Capital Management°.

“This allows schools to extend the life of the products they buy, which keeps them out of landfills and incinerators where they release harmful toxins,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Funds. “It is an important step, and we hope that this discount pricing will be extended beyond schools to everyone to protect our communities and our environment.” 

PIRG’s Lucas Rockett Gutterman at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA attempts to deliver 20,000 petition signatures. (Ultimately delivered electronically.)Photo by Staff | TPIN

Microsoft announced paid extended support for Windows 10

Because Windows 10 will expire next year, PIRG and Green Century Capital Management have raised concerns about the jump in e-waste expected when up to 400 million computers are no longer eligible for security updates that keep them safe from attacks. Microsoft responded to these concerns promising extra support, and on April 2, 2024 Microsoft revealed the pricing for their paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) program for schools and businesses.

The ESU program allows for three further years of extended support. For education customers, including K-12 and Higher Education, extended support will cost $1 per computer for the first year, $2 the following year, and $4 the third year. Commercial customers will need to pay $61 in the first year, a cost that will double each year thereafter. The price for individuals has not yet been announced.

Douglass Guernsey, Shareholder Advocate, Green Century Funds Capital Management, speaks at a webinar about shareholder advocacy.Photo by Staff | TPIN

Why does this matter for the environment?

Some 40% of PCs in use can’t upgrade to Windows 11, so when Microsoft stops providing security updates for Windows 10 in 2025, those computers will either be insecure or pushed into the waste stream. Abandoning Windows 10 and rendering 400 million computers useless could cause the biggest jump in junked computers ever.

The United Nations 2024 Electronic Waste Monitor found that only 25% of electronic waste such as laptops and computers are recycled, meaning most of these devices will end up in the trash. Given this report also found electronic waste is growing five times faster than recycling, it’s irresponsible to toss working computers just because their software has expired.

The campaign follows the two organization’s successful effort to extend support for Google Chromebooks to 10 years.

Microsoft has taken a step in the right direction, but hasn’t stopped the jump in e-waste

Microsoft’s affordable extension for schools and expansion of the ESU program to individuals is a positive step but automatically extending the life of these computers for everyone is the best way to cut down the toxic e-waste overwhelming our landfills.

Microsoft has set ambitious environmental goals, but the impact of this one decision threatens to derail its progress toward achieving them. The manufacturing of these hundreds of millions of devices has already resulted in 46 million tons of carbon pollution. That’s unsustainable. It’s critical for our climate to keep these computers working.

U.S. PIRG is not a registered investment adviser. U.S. PIRG is not providing any investment advice to any recipient of this communication.

A sustainable investment strategy which incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria may result in lower or higher returns than an investment strategy that does not include such criteria.

About The Green Century Funds

°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are one of the first families of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.

*As of December 31, 2023, Microsoft Corporation comprised 4.91%, 12.36%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund, respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.

You should carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds please visit www.greencentury.com, email [email protected], or call 1-800-934-7336. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.

Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, country, region or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Foreign securities are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, regional economic and political conditions, differences in accounting methods, and other unique risks compared to investing in securities of U.S. issuers. Bonds are subject to a variety of risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation risk.

This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable. The views expressed are as the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Funds.

The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. UMB Distribution Services, LLC is not an affiliate of Green Century or any of its affiliates. 4/2024


Lucas Gutterman

Director, Designed to Last Campaign, PIRG

Lucas leads PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, fighting against obsolescence and e-waste and winning concrete policy changes that extend electronic consumer product lifespans and hold manufacturers accountable for forcing upgrades or disposal.

Douglass Guernsey

Former Shareholder Advocate, Green Century Funds Capital Management

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