Users of Windows 11 Pro are set to be required to connect to the internet and sign-in with a Microsoft Account during the installation. This is already the case when installing Windows 11 Home, but now the ‘feature’ is being tested with Windows 11 Pro.
The change was revealed in the change log (opens in new tab) for the Windows 11 insider preview build 22557 (via Tom’s Guide (opens in new tab)). “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.”
While Microsoft requires users of Windows 11 Home to have a Microsoft account, it’s a little puzzling as to why users of Windows 11 Pro all of a sudden need to have it too. It’s one of several reasons that users pay extra for the Pro version. It’s the kind of thing that will infuriate IT personnel who are required to maintain many machines.
On a personal note, as someone who frequently installs Windows, including on some pre-release systems where Windows doesn’t recognize either the Wi-Fi or Ethernet controllers that are needed for internet access, I can foresee myself having problems with this.
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There’s also the privacy aspect. Some people simply don’t like the idea of big brother requiring yet another way to keep tabs on your activities. There’s simply no way that Microsoft would tie your account and personal information together in order to generate more revenue is there? Umm, yeah, it probably would.
The requirement is currently being tested in the latest Windows 11 preview builds. A timeframe for a live rollout hasn’t been provided and there’s always the chance that this requirement will never make it to live builds. We hope that Microsoft will listen to user feedback and provide an option to at least delay the requirement to have internet access until after the installation finishes. It will save a lot of people a cluster of headaches if it does.
Despite the negative headlines this will generate, there are some things to actually look forward to in the new build. The start menu gets an upgrade, with the welcome addition of folders. This allows you to group apps together. I would do that for games, office apps and chat/social media for starters. There’s a plan to integrate One Drive cloud storage into File Explorer as well as task bar improvements among others.
There are other cool things in the pipeline too, including support for Android apps (opens in new tab) and drag and drop into the taskbar (opens in new tab). If we ignore the requirement to have a Microsoft account, Windows 11 is at least maturing at a rapid pace.