Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, dedicated his retirement time to philanthropy and saving the planet. His fight against gastrointestinal problems in cows and other, according to him, causes of climate change is known. However, you don't seem concerned about other equally serious contaminants. That is why I ask myself the question of the title
Table of Contents
What will Bill Gates think about the ecological consequences of Microsoft's decisions?
Let's start by doing a bit of history
In early October this year, Microsoft released the new version of its operating system known as Windows 11. Three days earlier I cited some statistics according to which arbitrary hardware requirements were impossible to meet for 52% of the 30 million teams surveyed.
These demands include 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage. Additionally, you need to have UEFI Secure Boot and Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) enabled and have a DirectX 12 or later compliant graphics card with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
The coming ecological disaster
Windows 10 ends its lifespan in 2025 (I'm writing this in the last month of 2021) What's going to happen to all those computers that won't be able to run Windows 10 but whose owners need to keep running Microsoft products and services?
In the absence of Bill Gates, who asked the question was Susan Bradley who writes about Microsoft for Computerworld. Analyzing his own situation, he discovered that:
On my own home computer network (two desktops, two laptops, and a Surface device), only Surface can support Windows 11. The rest either don't have a qualified Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) or use a non-compliant processor Microsoft requirements. My office isn't much better - out of about 20 computers, only two can be upgraded to Windows 11.
Windows 11 will aggravate an already complicated problem. According to statistics site World Counts:
- Each year 40 million tons of electronic waste are generated. It is the equivalent of throwing away 800 notebooks per second.
- The average cell phone replacement per user is one and a half years.
- Only 12,5% of electronic waste is recycled while 85% is burned releasing toxins into the air. Exposure to lead,
- 300 million computers and 1000 billion cell phones are produced annually. You have to sell them to someone.
- Electronic waste contains hundreds of toxic substances. This includes mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, chromium, and flame retardants. Exposure to lead, for example, can damage the central nervous system and kidneys, as well as affect children's mental development.
In case we did not have enough with the corporate market, Microsoft bets on the educational market. It recently announced Windows 11 SE, a version of Windows 11 specifically for that sector, designed to compete with Chromebooks. According to the company:
Windows 11 SE is a new cloud-based operating system [that] offers the power and reliability of Windows 11 with a simplified design and modern management tools that are optimized for low-cost devices in educational settings, especially in the early grades. .
However, among the requirements it maintains the requirement of the TPM 2.0 module. And, we already know how school administrators love to use taxpayer money to meet Microsoft's demands.
And if it was not enough…
The following cannot be considered an ecological risk, unless protecting the human species from its own stupidity can be considered that way.
Susan warns of the huge number of electronic storage devices that are disposed of without effective erasure or encryption to prevent data recovery. I remember hearing that in one US state criminals bought equipment discarded by the courts and found the databases of protected witnesses.
The other point is the restriction on the freedom of users imposed by Windows 11. This is what an Argentine judge in the 80s appropriately called "Technological Vasallaje." My partner Darkcrizt summarized very good the position of the Free Software Foundation on the subject.