With the introduction of Windows 11’s first big post-release upgrade, Microsoft has begun testing a massive assortment of new features, UI improvements, and rebuilt apps in the most recent Windows Insider preview for Dev channel customers.
Microsoft Account needed to set up future versions of Windows 11 Pro
The modifications seem to be most helpful and important there seems to be redesigned Task Manager, folders for pinned applications within the Start menu, the ability to drag items through into Taskbar (as in Windows 10), improvements to the Do Not Disturb and Focus modes, new touchscreen gestures, and a long list of other fixes and enhancements.
However, one disagreeable change is hidden away at the bottom of the changelog: much like the Home edition of Windows 11, the Pro version will now require an Internet connection and a Microsoft account during setup.
You may still establish a local user account during setup in the current version of Windows 11 by not connecting your PC to the Internet—something that worked in the Home edition of Windows 10 but was eliminated in 11. Unless Microsoft’s plans alter, that workaround will no longer be accessible in any edition in the future.
While most devices require a sign-in to fully allow app stores, cloud storage, and cross-device sharing and synchronization, Windows 11 will soon be the only major consumer operating system that requires an account sign-in to enable even basic functioning.
Apple’s Macs still enable the establishment of local accounts during setup, and you may bypass logging in while configuring iPhones and iPads (an Internet connection is sometimes required for device activation, though). Android, like iOS, requires an Internet account for activation but does not require you to sign in to access the home screen. Even Chrome OS offers a guest mode that allows for basic surfing without requiring a user account.
This change should not impact anyone who has previously set up Windows with a local account, nor will it affect anyone who logs in to their work PCs using a workplace-provided username and password.
However, this is a problematic shift for anyone who frequently puts up fresh Windows installations for development or testing, as much as anyone attempting to set up a new PC in a location without the need for an Internet connection.
There are various hacky methods available, which often involve connecting to and then disconnecting from the Internet during setup, but my experience with them has been hit or miss.
If you wish to utilize a local account, the easiest way is to establish a burner Microsoft account for use during setup and then either create a new local user account or sign out of your Microsoft account once the operating system is up and running.
We have no idea when the Microsoft account requirement for Windows 11 Pro, or any of the other changes in this build, will be made available to the general public. The firm has stated that it wants to make “constant” modifications to the operating system, but that some features evaluated in the Dev Insider channel may never be released to the public.
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