Windows 11 Pro will require a Microsoft account to set up
WIndows 11 Pro will start requiring a Microsoft account during setup in a future update, according to the changelog for the latest Dev channel buid. A Microsoft account has been required for Home editions since Windows 10, but Pro users could still set up a personal account without using their Microsoft account.
As Microsoft noted in the changelog for Windows 11 build 22557, Windows 11 Pro users will now be required to enter a Microsoft account when setting up their PC for the first time. That only applies when setting up the laptop for personal user, of course, so enterprise devices can still be set up with organizational accounts. The blog post reads:
Similar to Windows 11 Home edition, Windows 11 Pro edition now requires internet connectivity during the initial device setup (OOBE) only. If you choose to setup device for personal use, MSA will be required for setup as well. You can expect Microsoft Account to be required in subsequent WIP flights.
It doesn’t look like Microsoft is planning to backtrack on this change, which may be a problem for some users. Just as before, though, you can always remove your Microsoft account from your PC in the Settings app, so it shouldn’t be a huge problem.
If you’re wondering what happens if you don’t have an internet connection, well, that will be required, too. First-time setup will require an internet connection to link your Microsoft account. There have usually been some exploits you can use to set up Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, but that’s also been made impossible with the latest build (as noted by Windows Central), so it looks like users will be forced to use a Microsoft account.
The change shouldn’t affect the general public anytime soon. This requirement has just been introduced for Windows Insiders in the Dev channel, and it should be a while before Microsoft rolls it out to other users. It should come as part of the next major feature update to Windows 11, which we’re expecting in the second half of the year, though that’s not confirmed.
Users are unlikely to be happy with the Microsoft account requirement for Windows 11. Many already considered the ability to use a local account one of the biggest benefits of Windows 11 Pro over the Home edition, so it’s sure to cause some pushback. Even on mobile platforms like Android, using a Google account isn’t strictly required to set up a phone, so it’s understandable that some users are upset with this requirement.