On February 16, 2022, Microsoft released Insider Preview Build 22557 in the developer channel, which brings two controversial innovations: Microsoft account requirement and online requirement for initial setup.
It’s easy to miss changes when quickly navigating through somewhat verbose text in a Windows blog. The pass mentions that TKIP and WEP are no longer supported because they are obsolete, so only Internet connections via WPA2 or WPA3 are possible. Windows 11 Pro Edition will also require an Internet connection (similar to Windows 11 Home Edition) during initial device setup (OOBE).
A Microsoft account is also required when setting up Windows 11 for personal use. In fact, this requirement applies to all installations of Windows 11 that are not managed in a corporate environment, for example in a domain via Active Directory. Testers should assume that this Microsoft account will be required for later versions of Windows Insider. After resetting a test install of build 22557 to factory settings, a local account can be set up without any fixes.
Test How does society interact?
Obviously, Microsoft wants to test with the small group of Windows 11 insiders whether this will lead to outcry from the community, or whether the whole thing will be accepted silently or with a bit of grumbling. Forced use of Microsoft accounts is a project that Microsoft has cherished for a long time. With Windows 10 Home 1909, Microsoft experimented with this approach with American users in 2019.
At the end of 2019, there was also a corresponding attempt to force German Windows 10 Home 1909 users to have a Microsoft account. However, this can be avoided with a trick: if you disconnect from the Internet during setup, Windows 10 creates a local user account.
So far, Windows 11 Home has been able to allocate a local account during initial setup (OOBE), despite internet requirements, simply by typing “Microsoft” as an email address and something like a password. But Microsoft’s direction is clear: It’s tantamount to forcing online consumers to use Microsoft accounts, as well as for business users in unmanaged environments. The latter will likely affect small businesses and freelancers who cannot use a domain to manage Windows 10 Pro clients. It is not clear if administrators can create additional local user accounts in the future after the initial assignment.
Microsoft may see itself as a trend because Android or iOS mobile devices or even Apple’s Macs come with online accounts. But so far all these devices can be played without an account on the Internet, provided that the user does not use certain functions such as stores or cloud storage from manufacturers Apple and Google. On the other hand, Microsoft requires an internet connection to start the Windows 11 desktop operating system, otherwise nothing will work. A Microsoft account is also mandatory.
It also becomes difficult to set up such systems in areas with no or poor internet connection. Situations where Windows Setup does not find any drivers for LAN or WLAN chipsets during startup, and therefore Internet connection is missing, also prevent a successful installation of Windows 11 using this approach. You should also keep in mind the cases that appear again and again of arbitrary bans of online accounts by Microsoft. It remains to be seen how the Windows 11 Insider community will react to the new variant.
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