Microsoft Corp’s plan to end support for Windows 10 operating system could result in about 240 million personal computers (PCs) being disposed, potentially adding to landfill waste, Canalys Research said.
The electronic waste from these PCs could weigh an estimated 480 million kilograms, equivalent to 320,000 cars.
While many PCs could remain functional for years post the end of OS support, Canalys warned demand for devices without security updates could be low.
Microsoft announced a plan to provide security updates for Windows 10 devices until October 2028 for an undisclosed annual price.
If the pricing structure for extended Windows 10 support mirrors past trends, migrating to newer PCs could be more cost-effective, increasing the number of older PCs heading to scrap, Canalys said.
Microsoft aims to discontinue support for Windows 10 by October 2025. The next generation of the OS, anticipated to bring advanced artificial intelligence technology to PCs, could potentially boost the sluggish PC market.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the environmental impact of disposal of Windows 11-incompatible devices.
Hard drives used in personal computers and data storage servers are recycled to gather materials for use in electric vehicle motors and even renewable power generation.
“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,” said Noveon Magnetics Chief Commercial Officer Peter Afiuny.
Afiuny added hard drives are often discarded before they reach the end of their functional lifespan, creating an excess of rare earth magnetic material waste.
Battery recycling firm Redwood Materials said batteries can be nearly infinitely recycled to recover metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper.