In case you missed the fine print in the latest Windows 11 Dev Channel test build this week, Microsoft is testing some new requirements for the Pro version of Windows 11. Test build 22557 notes that Microsoft will require users to have an Internet connection and to sign in using a Microsoft Account (MSA) for personal use.
These two requirements already are in place for Windows 11 Home; Micr[[osoft introduced them last year when it started the roll-out of Windows 11 in early October. Microsoft officials said the Internet connectivity/MSA requirements for Windows 11 Home were added to try to lessen customer confusion. Up to this point, Windows 11 Pro users have been allowed to set up their PCs while disconnected and use Active Directory to initially sign in.
There were relatively few complaints when Microsoft added these new rules for Home users -- maybe because most of the outcry was focused on the new TPM/CPU requirements for the product. Or maybe the power users who typically would bristle over these requirements had found workarounds that kept them from kicking and screaming all that much.
In any case, 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.
Microsoft's wording in this week's blog post:
"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."
Like my Windows Weekly colleague Paul Thurrott, I'm guessing there will be continued workarounds of some kind to keep people dead-set against having to sign in with an MSA happy. I guess we'll see...