Microsoft Stipulates Account Requirement for 'Personal Use' of Windows 11 Pro Edition
Microsoft indicated in a Thursday announcement that it will require the use of Microsoft Accounts (MSAs) for "personal use" of the Windows 11 Pro edition operating system on initial setup.
The MSA requirement won't apply to users of the Windows 11 Pro edition for work or school purposes, Microsoft promised. Here's Microsoft statement to that effect:
Previously, we shared new requirements for internet and MSA on the Windows 11 Pro edition. Today, Windows Insiders on Windows 11 Pro edition will now require MSA and internet connectivity during the initial device setup (OOBE) only when setting up for personal use. If you choose to setup device for Work or School, there is no change, and it will work the same way as before.
This announcement was aimed at Windows Insider Program OS test participants. It described new features in Windows 11 preview build 22616. For instance, Microsoft highlighted a new "controller bar" feature that lets PC users quickly access their games.
MSA Currently Required for Home Edition
Possibly, the announcement of an MSA requirement for Windows 11 Pro edition personal users doesn't just apply to Windows Insider Program testers, but also will apply more broadly to future purchasers of the Windows 11 Pro edition product.
At present, an MSA was only listed as a requirement for Windows 11 Home edition users, per Microsoft's Windows 11 requirements page.
The timing for this suggested policy change for personal users of the Windows 11 Pro edition wasn't indicated in the announcement. It possibly just applies to new PC setups. How it might affect current Windows 11 Pro edition users wasn't described.
Microsoft's Thursday announcement was kind of a clarification of its announcement back in February. Many observers interpreted that February announcement as saying that all Windows 11 Pro edition users would require an MSA on initial PC setup, even though Microsoft did state at the time that it intended its policy change to apply to "personal use" cases.
Local Account vs. MSA
Individuals may have wanted to set up a Windows 11 Pro PC using a "local account" instead of an MSA because of uncertainty about privacy issues when agreeing to use an MSA.
User of MSAs must agree that Microsoft can collect certain personal information. That information includes "credentials, name and contact data, payment data, device and usage data, your contacts, information about your activities, and your interests and favorites," according to Microsoft's "Privacy Statement" document.
There are some good reasons to use MSAs. For instance, MSAs support multifactor authentication for identity access security. It's easier to synchronize with Microsoft's services, including syncing files with OneDrive across multiple devices.
Based on Microsoft's announcement, though, it appears that all personal users of Windows 11 will be required to use MSAs on initial PC setup.
For business and educational organizations, Microsoft's Windows 11 Pro edition policy clarification likely eases matters, especially for IT pros having to provision multiple PCs. They won't have to use MSAs when provisioning them, for instance.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.