We already know that Windows 11 Home will require a Microsoft account (MSA) at the beginning of the installation process. What Microsoft hasn’t publicized is whether it’s possible to log in with just a local account. It is, but only with Windows 11 Pro.
A source close to Microsoft has now told us that the only way to avoid using an MSA is with Windows 11 Pro. According to our source, users who buy or own a PC with Windows 11 Pro may choose to use either a local account or an MSA from the very beginning of the installation process.
The Windows 11 Home MSA requirement isn’t permanent, just unavoidable. Microsoft will allow the user to transition to a local account once the Windows 11 Home installation process has completed. Retail versions of Windows 11 Home will offer the same experience.
Our source told us that local account users will not have a “diminished or limited experience,” though they won’t be able to sync content or use Windows 11’s ability to sync or recommend content from other devices. That content—which could include documents or webpages that a user had viewed on another PC—is typically synced to the user’s MSA account.
Local accounts have been seen as one way around that. Microsoft may be able to watch what you do on the web (anonymously), but it won’t be able to match up your actions if you move to another PC.
At the same time, Microsoft has changed up the ways in which it allows you to create a local account. In 2019 Microsoft began phasing out the option to ue a local account during setup unless Internet access was unavailable. Even then, the OOBE experience often casually asked you to connect to the Internet before asking you to sign in. That led to bizarre scenarios where users who wanted to sign in with a local account needed to turn off their Wi-Fi before setting up Windows 10.
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Microsoft has apparently closed that loophole entirely now. That leaves users with an expensive alternative: Windows 10 Pro (and, we expect, Windows 11 Pro) costs $199.99 for a standalone license, versus $139.00 for Windows 10 Home. (Amazon offers a discount on Windows 10 Pro, which we’ve shown above.)
Microsoft used to offer Surface devices with Windows 10 Pro installed, but that’s changed, too. The most recent versions of the Surface Pro tablets ship with Windows 10 Home, and only the more expensive Surface Pro for Business tablets include Windows 10 Pro.