Last year, Windows users were disappointed to learn that Windows 11 Home requires a Microsoft Account during setup. But Microsoft doesn’t care about the pushback. It now says that future Windows 11 Pro releases, which were previously free of these requirements, will also force you to use a Microsoft Account account for setup.
Update, 5/9/22: This restriction has exited the Insider Preview channel with update 22H2. As noted by Windows Latest, stable version of Windows 11 Pro now require a Microsoft account during setup (unless you connect your PC with a work or school domain).
Note that you can get around this restriction by typing in a fake Microsoft account during setup. Your PC will give you an error message stating that the credentials are invalid and give you the option to use a local account.
It’s an unpopular move, but it’s been a long time coming. Microsoft has spent the last decade trying to discourage customers from using local Windows accounts (which don’t require a Microsoft login). If Windows 10 customers connected to the internet during setup, for example, Microsoft would hide the local account option.
That’s not the case with Windows 11, which refuses to go through setup until you’re connected to the internet.
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.
This change is frustrating for several reasons. Setting up a PC is now impossible without an internet connection, and if you don’t want a Microsoft account tethered to your computer, you’re now forced to make a dummy account.
From Microsoft’s perspective, requiring an account may help users transition to a new PC and quickly access any Microsoft services they pay for. Additionally, Microsoft wants people to care about its app store, which requires an account. (For what it’s worth, macOS doesn’t require an Apple ID during setup and has a much better app store than Windows.)
The latest Windows 11 Pro Insider Preview requires a Microsoft Account during setup. But at the time of writing, stable Windows 11 Pro builds still lack this requirement. Additionally, Windows users who are forced to use a Microsoft Account can make a local account after setup.