Windows 11 Pro will soon require an internet connection when setting up for the first time

Microsoft has announced that later this year, users will be required to connect to the internet and sign-in with a Microsoft Account during the out of box setup experience on Windows 11 Pro. Microsoft has already been enforcing this requirement on Windows 11 Home since launch last October, and Windows 11 Pro is now expected to follow suit soon.

Previously, Microsoft was positioning Windows 11 Pro as the edition to get if you didn’t want or couldn’t set up Windows 11 with an internet connection. Now, users on both Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro will be required to connect to an internet access point and sign-in with a Microsoft Account before they can start using their PC for the first time.

The news comes via a change log in the latest Windows 11 preview build:

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 is going to be frustrating for users who don’t want to use a Microsoft Account, or don’t have access to an internet connection. It’s also going to be extra frustrating for users or developers who have an ambiguous email address, as Windows will automatically set up your user profile directory using the first five letters of your email instead of your first name.

I would often skip setting up a Microsoft Account in the out of box experience, setup a local account so that Windows names the user directory correctly instead, and then sign-in with a Microsoft Account once I hit the desktop because of this. Unfortunately, this is no longer going to be possible. Hopefully Microsoft changes the way the setup experience names your user directory when signing into a Microsoft Account soon.

On the shipping build of Windows 11, it was relatively easy to bypass the internet requirement on Windows 11 Home. However, the common workaround of killing “Network Connection Flow” via Task Manager no longer works in the latest Windows 11 preview builds, so users will have to find another way around the internet requirement, if there even is one.

The change is now active in the latest Windows 11 preview builds, which means this requirement will likely rollout to the shipping version of Windows 11 later this year, though Microsoft hasn’t provided an exact time frame just yet.

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