Microsoft appears to be saying that Windows 11 Pro edition users would need to use Microsoft accounts (MSAs) on new installations intended for personal use, as evidenced in a Windows Insider program announcement.
While the announcement is mostly about the features to be found by testers in Windows 11 preview build 22557, it also included the following paragraph at the end about new Pro edition installs:
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.
Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet also chimed in here, quote Microsoft may or may not make the Internet connectivity/MSA a permanent thing for Pro variants of Windows 11. As Microsoft officials continue to drive home, the Dev Channel is for experimentation, and features that debut for testers there may never make it into a shipping version of Windows 11. However, my bet is these new requirements will just roll into future builds and releases of Windows 11 and that will be that.
Why do we care?
I feel like the inevitable next story will be about petitions against this. To be fair, Microsoft hasn’t specifically announced the change – so that’s likely a solid move if this matters to providers.
The use case that I can’t get out of my head is the idea of top-secret, air-gapped systems intentionally kept off the internet. There must a way to address this, particularly as Microsoft has a significant investment in government contracting. So before the complete freakout, know there will be ways to address this… somehow.
Then again, speaking up is probably smart.