When Microsoft released its first Surface devices 10 years ago, people were quick to make comparisons to Apple products not only because of their minimalist aesthetic, but also because they were impossible to repair at home. For years, these machines were so difficult to crack open that attempting to do so was as dangerous as playing Operation blindfolded.
We knew to not even bother with replacing or swapping out parts thanks to third-party repair site iFixit, which methodically tears down products into their individual parts and gives them a repairability score. Microsoft scored ones and zeros for several years, until it eventually listened to enthusiast customers and added an easily accessible SSD door to the Surface Laptop 3. While it stopped short of making its Surface products officially user-upgradeable (self-servicing is done at the risk of voiding warranty), the surprising changes were welcomed.
Now, thanks to pressure from shareholders, Microsoft is taking another step to help users make DIY repairs on Surface products. The official YouTube Surface account today shared a teardown video of the Surface Laptop SE, a $250 budget laptop designed for grade-schoolers.
The 8-minute-long clip shows how easy it is to access the Surface SE’s internals using basic tools like a T6 Torx screwdriver and tweezers. By the end, every major component that might need servicing is safely removed from the chassis.
Microsoft likely chose the Surface Laptop SE because it’s specifically built for schools, where devices can get tossed around, covered in liquids, or filled with photos, videos, and or boring online homework assignments. The cost of taking multiple laptops in for repair (or to swap the storage drive) after warranty expires is a financial burden schools can avoid by asking the tech lab teacher to make those repair instead. Or if they’re old enough, by giving students a modern (and more useful) version of animal dissection.
Microsoft still isn’t willing to commit to making these repairs fall under warranty; the company recommends you “seek professional assistance for device repairs and that you use caution if undertaking ‘do it yourself’ repairs.” That is a friendlier way of saying the company isn’t liable should you break anything in the process, and that your warranty will likely be voided.
Still, efforts to make repairs easier for end users stand in contrast to Apple’s war on the right to repair movement, the pressure of which eventually forced the company to let customers make their own iPhone and Mac repairs.