Microsoft accidentally lists the benefits of not using a Microsoft account on Windows 11

Surface Pro 9 new colors
It's possible to use Windows 11 with a local account, but Microsoft recommends using a Microsoft account to sign in. (Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • A recently updated Microsoft support page outlines how to switch from a Microsoft account to a local account on Windows 11.
  • The page lists several reasons Microsoft recommends using a Microsoft account rather than a local account.
  • While it is possible to use a local account on Windows 11, you must first set up a Microsoft account or be willing to use workarounds during the initial setup process of a PC.

Microsoft recommends using a Microsoft account on Windows 11 to get the best user experience. The tech giant lists several reasons to use a Microsoft account rather than a local account in a support document that was updated recently. Neowin spotted additions to the document, including Microsoft's reasons for recommending a Microsoft account.

There are benefits to using a Microsoft account on your Windows 11 PC, especially if you're deeply entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem. Using a Microsoft account lets you connect your PC to Microsoft cloud services, sync files across devices, and even sync your settings across multiple PCs. There are also security benefits when using a Microsoft account, as highlighted by the tech giant in its support page about switching between Microsoft accounts and local accounts.

But not everyone wants to use a Microsoft account when using a PC. Some people prefer to use a local account instead. Microsoft, unsurprisingly, recommends using a Microsoft account. But in a twist of irony, Microsoft's argument to use a Microsoft account may actually convince some people to use a local account. Here are the main reasons listed by Microsoft:

  • A local account is created on the device and doesn't require Internet connectivity to sign in. It's independent of other services, and it's not connected to the cloud. Your settings, files, and applications are limited to that single device
  • A Microsoft account, on the other hand, is associated to an email address and password that you use with Outlook.com, Hotmail, Office, OneDrive, Skype, Xbox, and Windows. When you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, you’re connected to a Microsoft cloud service, and your settings and files can sync across various devices. You can also use it to access other Microsoft services

For those in the Microsoft ecosystem, the company's reasons for using a Microsoft account seem compelling. But I believe there are users who would view Microsoft's reasons against using a local account as positives, not negatives.

Windows 11 without an internet connection

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360

Setting up a Windows 11 PC requires an internet connection or using a workaround. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I use a Microsoft account and sync just about everything across multiple PCs, but I understand that's not the preferred setup for everyone. The idea of being able to sign in without an internet connection seems like a positive. I bet there are many that want to use a PC without having it connected to Microsoft services as well.

While Microsoft has a support document on how to change from a Microsoft account to a local account, you'll notice a rather glaring omission. The support document does not list a way to set up your PC with a local account. You can either set up a PC with a Microsoft account and then switch to a local account or just use a Microsoft account. If you want to set up Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, you have to use workarounds.

It's frustrating that Microsoft almost makes using a Microsoft account essential to use a Windows 11 PC at all. Even those that switch to a local account have to make a Microsoft account at some point and then switch away from it (unless they're willing to use workarounds).

I wonder how many people cannot use a modern PC because they lack an internet connection for the initial setup process. Microsoft is certainly aware that many people lack easy access to the web. The company has several initiatives to improve connectivity, such as Microsoft Airband. The tech giant goes as far as to call internet access a "fundamental right." There are, however, people without access to the internet in 2024. I guess they're out of luck when it comes to setting up a Windows 11 PC.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

  • fdruid
    This article is dumb, sorry.
    Reply
  • Blade001
    fdruid said:
    This article is dumb, sorry.
    Agreed.
    Reply
  • taynjack
    Now that's the kind of transparency and honesty that will win you customers! Give people the objective information and let them make an informed decision for their needs. Microsoft finally does something right!
    Reply