Windows 11 Pro May Soon Require The Internet And an MSA Account During Setup

Posted on February 18, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Windows 11 with 43 Comments

It looks like Windows 11 Pro could soon require an Internet connection and a Microsoft account during the initial setup phase, just like Windows 11 Home. Microsoft has started testing the change in the latest Insider build released earlier this week, and the company said that an MSA account will now be required for Insiders doing a fresh installation of Windows 11 Pro.

The announcement was buried in the very long release notes for the build 22557 (thanks Michael for the tip), but here’s what the Windows Insider team said: “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,” the blog post reads.

It remains to be seen how the change will resonate with Windows Insiders, but Microsoft could well be walking on thin ice. Many Windows users still prefer to use the OS with a local account, and removing that choice during the Windows 11 Pro setup may look like the company going too far to force users to use a Microsoft account. It will still be possible to switch to a local account once the installation of Windows 11 Pro is finished, but many users may not enjoy having to go through this additional step

As you may know, the Windows Insider team keeps repeating with every new Windows 11 flight that nothing is really set in stone. “The features included may change over time, be removed, or replaced in Insider builds or may never be released beyond Windows Insiders to general customers,” the team reiterated this week. We’ll see if this change is here to stay, but we’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments.

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Comments (43)

43 responses to “Windows 11 Pro May Soon Require The Internet And an MSA Account During Setup”

  1. StevenLayton

    I think this was said on the latest Windows Weekly, but iOS requires and Apple account, ChromeOS and Android require a Google account. Apart from the argument that choice is always better, I don't really see the issue with Windows needing an MSA.

    • fishnet37222

      When I'm setting up Windows for the first time, I initially use a local account just so I can have a sensible name for my user folder. If they're getting rid of that option, then they need to let you specify a name for your user folder.

      • rm

        I agree, the folder naming is plan stupid! But it is the only reason I have to not want an MSA setup. I have to have a Google account for Android and don't want one. But I only use if for want I have to use it for.

      • Luna Murasaki

        OMG this. I always start with a local account and convert it to a Microsoft account after the fact for exactly this reason. I have things that will break if I have to change my profile folder name too. I guess at that point I'd have to create a temporary account just for setup. I really hope they don't do this. ?

      • ikjadoon

        Nail on the head. I don’t mind an MSA (limited but non-zero utility), but Microsoft has plainly neglected us MSA users, too. We give up our little privacy for…

        • forced truncated profile names
        • poor syncing: little configuration (“don’t sync this”), many items aren’t synced, and no real continuity between systems
        • just as many news feeds of ads, Edge bloat, and Teams auto-installers
        • teeny tiny 5 GB of included OneDrive storage backup (the same Apple gives to its mobile phones)

        Paul mentioned on WW how poor Windows syncing really is. My only response: Paul, keep hammering them.


        File Explorer preferences?

        Search indexing?

        Backup policies?

        Mouse settings?

        Group policies?!

        System restore?

        Let us at least build profiles, Microsoft. “Desktop profile”. Then I can make a separate one for a laptop.

        Doing a Windows clean install and rebuild is like pulling teeth in 2022.

        Set up a new PC, signed

      • wpcoe

        Oh. I have never set up any Windows computer with a MSA. Does it use the e-mail address as the username, and hence the username folder in Users???

        • Maverick010

          No it does not. I am using Windows 11 with an MSA, and my profile folder is listed as my first name. It shows no where my email address. All the other folders such as downloads, music, etc. have their normal hierarchy and labeled correctly like previous versions of Windows.

          • fishnet37222

            I remember when I first installed Windows 8 on a PC and used an MS account to set it up. My home folder had some weird name. Ever since then I've always used a local account and switched after the first log-in.

        • waethorn

          It uses the first 6 characters except for the @.

    • wunderbar

      you can absolutely set up an Android device or an iOS device without their respective accounts.

      Also, the comparable to Windows would be MacOS, not Android or iOS, and you can absolutely set up a Mac without an iCloud account.

    • bhofer

      You can set up an iPhone and iPad without an Apple account. Same goes for the Mac. But will need an Apple ID if you want to use the App Store or other services.

      I'm not an insider anymore, but maybe we need more people to clamor for the ability to set the name of our "home" folder during setup? That is the only reason why I don't sign in with an MSA until after I've got my user folder created. macOS gets this right...

    • ikjadoon

      Why is Windows compared to mobile? Compare it to macOS or ChromeOS.

      Neither require an online / cloud account, many readers may be surprised to find out.

      ChromeOS has the fantastic local guest mode.

      MacOS runs like a dream without iCloud. Of course it does. Why shouldn’t it?

    • bluvg

      Not the same, for many reasons. Windows and iOS/Android are not managed the same, at all. The workflows for setups for many companies are entirely different, some requiring a local account for provisioning. This would be somewhat similar to ADE/DEP for iOS.

      No way for Pro--and keep in mind Pro is the base that gets you to Enterprise afterwards. I can't imagine they haven't thought through company setups, but... no, wait, I can totally imagine that. If that's the case, this is a bad, Bad, BAD move, Microsoft.

      • Maverick010

        Really not a bad move when you look at the whole picture. An MSA has more protection and to some extent provisioning to the OS, along with 2 factor authentication. It is the preverbal step before jumping to Enterprise grade domain joining with accounts. It has a lot more positives than negatives.

        Now with that said, I wish they would at least leave Pro to still have offline setup capability. I will most likely keep my current Windows 11 build on a USB thumbdrive and use another one for newer builds. I also do install and setup my PCs as it is with an MSA, so not exactly an issue, just my network driver for the 10GBe card needs to be installed during setup as there is no default driver included.

        • bluvg

          They've already made the local account setup hidden and nag-y enough. Removing the option altogether until after OOBE is just plain dumb. It's not always practical or feasible for businesses not to go through OOBE.

    • boltie

      Android doesn't require a Google account.

    • Dzomlija

      I really don't see the issue at all. I have a Google account for my Android devices, and a Microsoft Account for my Microsoft devices.

      Indeed, my Microsoft Account has been in use since before using it for Windows login was even an option, and since OneDrive was still known as SkyDrive.

      I've been using my Microsoft Account for so long; I don't even remember when I first created it!

    • Ivan X

      iOS/iPadOS does not require that you sign in with an Apple ID during setup, or ever. Of course, you won't be able to get any apps if you don't, but iMessage and FaceTime will still work on an iPhone via its phone number, you can still use the native mail/calendar/contacts clients for synchronization with Google/Exchange/IMAP/CardDAV/CalDAV, and you can still back the device up via cable to a Mac or Windows computer. (macOS doesn't require that you sign in, either.)

      It seems more significant on a desktop computing platform where you aren't required to get apps through a central store. (Also, as a consultant, I sometimes just want to set up a copy of Windows in a VM to test something, and I'd prefer not to sign into anything if I don't have to.)

    • dave78

      iOS and Android you don't need to setup a Google account.

  2. zeromus2003

    There has to be some irony of people fussing about having to have a MSA account to log into Windows with while at same time had to have an account here just to post. Of course Azuere AD joined or on prem AD would be different.

    • sadsteve

      The main purpose of an account here is to be able to comment. I could read the articles fine without having an account.

      I don't need an MSA to use Windows the way I want. If I used some of their services (Ondrive, Office subscription, etc) I could see the need to have an MSA, but since I don't, I don't want an MSA. It seems to me that the forcing of an MSA is to make it more likely that I'd use a Microsoft service. I'll be sticking with a Windows 10 VM for the next few years so I'll worry about it later. By then I'm sure there'll be workarounds.

  3. remco8264

    Currently you're able to choose 'Setup for work or school' and then choose Domain Join. This creates a local account. I wonder if this will still work.

  4. dennisblondelldecker

    That'll never fly with my company. They have a completely closed network and for very good reasons. They just upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10. Is there going to be an upgrade to Windows 11 if Microsoft continues this way? I doubt it.

    In the best case they are going to have to work around this and other limitations.

  5. RobertJasiek

    If Microsoft cancels local accounts in Windows 11 Pro, it violates the EU and German law principles of minimal necessary privacy violations and opt-in, motivates more people to switch to Linux or keep using older Windows versions, hurts people without or with bad internet connection, and greatly damages Microsoft's reputation.

    Microsoft, do not attack your customers!

    • rob_segal

      A lot of people are not going to switch to Linux and this won't damage Microsoft's reputation.

      • sadsteve

        Their rep has been damaged for years (Windows 8 for example) with all the techies I worked with. They almost always get a Start Menu replacement on their personal machines (first thing I do after a fresh install). Heck, the IT group at work actually installed Open Shell for employees who wanted it.

        • rob_segal

          Most people have moved on from Windows 8 and things like start menu replacements. Microsoft's reputation now is similar to what it has been. Consumers use other products and services from other companies for mobile and consumption. They use Windows and Microsoft services for productivity or work. They may have a complaint here or there, but they can accomplish what they need to accomplish. Microsoft enthusiasts find something to complain about and do so in an overblown manner when the average person doesn't even think about it.

  6. bluvg

    Home? Fine. Pro? No.

  7. nerdile

    If you're techy enough to care about this, why are you even using OOBE? Let me introduce you to the joys of unattend.xml...

  8. proftheory

    I'm in the local user no MSA login.

    I don't see an MSA account giving me more security. I do know there are people who need it though.

  9. mi1984

    "It will still be possible to switch to a local account once the installation of Windows 11 Pro is finished, but many users may not enjoy having to go through this additional step"

    I remember certain windows 10 pro versions having to unplug the network to get it to offer a local account. The last version I don't believe was that way so someone is aware of this. I don't know why they're trying to force it.

    But user love extra steps to have it their way, I sure someone will have a tweak to activate the Administrator local account at setup just in defiance

  10. Kendog52361

    I can't tell if this is Insider Installs, only, or all fresh installs. That being said, my concern is, those who are on Wi-Fi, only, and need a driver for the wireless device. Luckily, the latest Win 10 Version has been including compatible drivers for my Wi-Fi, but I don't know how quickly new Wi-Fi Drivers get added to Windows, nor if there's any type of "generic Wi-Fi Driver" that's "universally compatible".

  11. WaltC

    I've been using both with Win10 for years, so it's no change for me. I find it to be simpler to do it this way. And no, I have no fear of Microsoft decrypting my last-week's pizza order...;) I mean, they can if they want, but for what? I'm not paranoid about it. Many people act as if the virtual key to Fort Knox gold is readily accessible inside their boot partition...;)

  12. waethorn

    What are you talking about?!? Windows 11 Home doesn’t even require one.

    When you get to the screen to set one up, just unplug your Ethernet cable, or if on wireless press Shift-F10 and type “netsh wlan disconnect”(Enter), hit the back arrow, and you can create a local account.

    Or you can automate this with an autounattend.xml file and WinSIM.

  13. blue77star

    Easy way around this is not to use Windows 11. I am on latest Windows 10 LTSC.

  14. wunderbar

    Again, bad for business. I actually don't care *that* much about it on personal/home versions. But on work computers..... I shudder at what this is going to do to our setup workflows and processes.

    • dfeifer

      Might have to go back to sysprep and image deployment.

      • dfeifer

        Should have read Svenj's post before I entered the above comment. 6hrs sleep in the past 3 days.. I agree with what he says and that it looks like a microsoft account will only be a requirement when personal use is selected..

    • SvenJ

      "If you choose to setup device for personal use, MSA will be required for setup as well." I assume this means if you, or the IT dept, are setting up a business PC, there won't be a requirement for an MSA. I also assume that means the device is logged into AD, on premise or cloud.

      • proftheory

        To get to the point where you would join a domain you've already done the initial setup.

        An Enterprise/Volume License may not have the same requirement.

  15. greatrexmark

    This might sound crazy but forgive me. Windows now seems to be designed to need an Internet connection, for example if you use it offline the help isnt available because it connects online. I cant speak for business use, but now i just use windows offline in a dual boot just for gaming, i dont do any modern gaming. (Play games up to about 2013 which my machine can run) im just gradually moving away everything i use to linux although ive always used and love windows. I just dont really need it for anything else anymore but can totally understand those that do need it for specific uses or prefer it. I guess it all depends what you want to do, and if yoir prepared to have an online account (i still do by the way)