Microsoft Limits Windows 11 Local Account Options, Favors Microsoft Account

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25 Jun 2024

Microsoft Hides Local Account Option for Windows 11 Users

Did you know that it’s entirely possible to use Windows 11 with a local-only account, the way it worked way back when computers still used floppy drives? You’d be forgiven for not knowing, because it seems like Microsoft is going out of its way to hide this option from you, hoping to push you onto a connected Microsoft Account instead. In fact, they’re straight-up erasing information that might tell you otherwise.

Microsoft keeps a pretty sizable collection of short, to-the-point guides for some of the most frequently searched functions on Windows. For example, this page tells you how to move from a local-only, non-connected user account to a full-on Microsoft Account. But that page used to say a lot more. Tom’s Hardware discovered that the most recent version of the page has deleted information on how to go in reverse, to transition from a Microsoft Account to a local account. The change was made last week, just as the newest Surface devices hit the market. The original version of the page is still visible via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

It’s disheartening, but not surprising. Microsoft has been incorporating more online, always-connected features into Windows for decades (including several unwelcome pushes to buy Microsoft Office or switch to the Edge browser). And this push only seems to be accelerating as Microsoft bets big on generative AI with Copilot, even going as far as offering a paid upgrade for more functionality.

It’s still possible to operate Windows 11 as a local user, only logging into Microsoft services via web browser like in ye olden days. But you have to set up an account first, then manually move yourself off of it. Microsoft appears to be increasing that difficulty with intention. The recent changes to the Windows 11 setup process—and now yeeting instructions off its own support page—show that Microsoft wants every user to send over data constantly.

Update: 25 Jun 2024
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