How to bypass the Microsoft Account requirement during Windows setup
Every few years, Microsoft is making it more difficult to create a local account during setup of the Windows operating system.
The company announced in February 2022 that new setups and first runs of Pro versions of Windows 11 would require a Microsoft account. Previously, only Home editions of Windows 11 required that customers signed-in to or created a Microsoft account on first run of the system.
It did not take long for workarounds to become available, but many users may be unaware of these bypass options. It is important to realize that both account type offers certain benefits.
This guide offers working options to create a local account during setup of Windows 11 on any edition of the operating system, including Windows 11 Home and Pro.
Advantages and disadvantages of a Microsoft account
Some users may prefer to use a Microsoft account, as it offers some advantages. Here is the top list of Windows features that require a Microsoft account or benefit from it:
- Windows Settings sync across all Windows devices, provided that syncing is enabled. This is a powerful feature, as it keeps all Windows machines in sync and extends to Microsoft's Edge web browser as well.
- Microsoft Store requires a Microsoft account to download and install games, apps and media.
- OneDrive cloud storage becomes available only if a Microsoft Account is used.
- Other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft To-Do, require an account for usage.
- Remote password recovery support.
- Additional security options, such as 2-factor authentication or passwordless sign-ins.
You may check out Shaun's article on the Windows features that require a Microsoft account.
Others may prefer local accounts as they reveal less to Microsoft and are not attackable if the device is not turned on. Computer techs may also need to setup accounts for customers, who may not be available or able to provide a Microsoft account at the time.
Here are the main benefits of using a local account:
- Improved privacy, as less data is given to Microsoft or submitted automatically while the operating system is used.
- Microsoft accounts may be hacked remotely, while local accounts only when the Windows device is turned on and connected to the Internet.
How to avoid using Microsoft accounts in Windows 11
There are several methods to bypass the Microsoft account requirement during setup on Windows devices.
I described one option in How to use local accounts on Windows 11 version 22H2 devices. While written for that specific version, the described method works in other versions of Windows 11 as well.
To describe it in a sentence: create a Microsoft account during setup and create a local account after setup ended. It is not elegant and requires that an email address is used initially for the Microsoft account creation.
The following three methods do not require a Microsoft account at all and work during setup. They allow users to bypass the Microsoft account creation entirely to create a local user account on the Windows PC right away.
Bypass 1: OOBE\BYPASSNRO
This bypass is the easiest option right now, as it requires just a few steps during setup to skip the Microsoft account creation.
Here is how it works:
- Disable the Internet connection before starting setup, e.g., by disconnecting the LAN cable or disabling Wi-Fi.
- Windows will display a "Let's connect you to a network" or similar screen. The upcoming Windows 11 version 22H2 does not allow you to skip this anymore to create a local account.
- On the screen, use Shift-F10 to open a command prompt window.
- Type OOBE\BYPASSNRO and hit the Enter-key.
- Windows will reboot automatically and return to the "Let's connect you to a network" screen. Only this time, you may select "I don't have Internet" to skip this.
- Then you select "Continue with limited setup" to then create a local account during setup.
Bypass 2: Use a banned email address
Microsoft has banned email addresses that were used too often in the account creation process. You may use this to your advantage, as it allows you to skip the Microsoft account creation or sign-in phase during setup. The advantage of this option is that it does not require a restart or running a command from the command line.
Here is how this method works (thanks Neowin):
- Select Sign-In when asked to create or sign-in to a Microsoft account during setup.
- Use the email address [email protected].
- Type any password on the next screen.
- Windows will display "Oops, something went wrong" on the next screen.
- Clicking Next opens a screen that allows you to create a local account.
- You can assign a password to the account, or leave it empty.
Bypass 3: Use the free tool Rufus when setting up Windows
Rufus is a free program that anyone may download. It allows users to create Windows installation media. Recent versions of the application include options to remove certain requirements, including the requirement to create a Microsoft account during setup.
You may check out our full guide on using Rufus to bypass the Microsoft account requirement during Windows setup, but here is a quick step-by-step guide on preparing the installation media:
- Insert a USB Flash drive into the device. Make sure that it has a size of at least 8 gigabytes.
- Go to the Rufus website and download the latest non-portable version (at the time of writing, Rufus 3.22)
- Run the application after the download completes.
- Confirm the UAC security prompt that is displayed to continue. Select Yes when prompted.
- Allow Rufus to check for updates when asked.
- Activate the small down arrow icon next to "Select" near the top of the interface and switch it to Download. This allows you to download a Windows ISO image from Microsoft.
- Select the right version, release, edition, language and architecture in the Download ISO image dialog. The defaults should work for many users, but you may change them. Select Continue each time, and download in the end to download the image to the local system.
- Make sure Rufus has selected the inserted USB drive.
- The ISO image should be the downloaded image, but you may switch back to Select to pick another one.
- Keep all the defaults and activate the Start button.
- Rufus displays several Windows 11 specific options, including "Remove requirement for an online Microsoft account". Make sure this one is checked. You may also keep others checked, e.g., to bypass the windows 11 system requirements.
- Click ok.
- Rufus displays a warning that all data on the USB Flash drive will be deleted.
- Select OK to continue.
Once done, either run setup from the USB device directly, or boot the system from it to install Windows 11 on the device.
There is a chance that Microsoft is removing the bypass options in future versions of Windows. New bypasses may be found, which we will add to this guide.
For now, users have several options to skip using a Microsoft account during setup.
Now You: local or Microsoft account, what is your preference?Advertisement