Sign in with Microsoft in Windows 10's setup process.

Windows 10 Home now forces you to sign in with a Microsoft account—unless you disconnect from the internet first. Microsoft has always wanted you to sign in with a Microsoft account, but now it’s going even further.

The option to sign in with a classic local Windows account was always rather hidden behind an “Offline Account” option. Now, we’ve confirmed that it’s vanished entirely from Windows 10’s setup process.

How Windows 10 Home Forces a Microsoft Account

The screenshots in this article were taken while installing Windows 10 version 1903 Home—that’s the current stable version of Windows 10, also known as the May 2019 Update.

During the first-time setup process—either after you install Windows 10 yourself or while setting up a new PC with Windows 10—you’re now prompted to “Sign in with Microsoft” and there are no alternate options.

On Windows 10 Professional, there’s reportedly a “Domain Join Instead” option that will create a local user account. But that’s only on Windows 10 Professional. Windows 10 Home doesn’t have this option at all.

Windows 10 requiring a Microsoft account to continue.

If you try to click “Next” or “Create account,” Windows 10 will ask you for “a valid email address, phone number, or Skype name.” There’s no apparent way around it.

Windows 10 requesting a valid email address, phone number, or Skype name.

You might click “Learn More” to find more information about the account creation process. If you do, Windows 10’s Setup says this is how you can avoid signing in with a Microsoft account:

If you’d prefer not to have a Microsoft account associated with your device, you can remove it. Finish going through Windows setup, then select the Start button and go to Settings > Accounts > Your info and select Sign in with a local account instead.

That’s right—if you don’t want a Microsoft account, Microsoft says you need to sign in with one anyway and then remove it later. Windows 10 offers no option to create a local account from within the setup process.

Windows 10 explaining you should create a Microsoft account and then remove it.

How to Create a Local User Account Instead

Thankfully, there is one hidden way around this process on Windows 10 Home: You can disconnect your computer from the network.

If you have a computer with an Ethernet cable, unplug it. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, disconnect.

After you do, try creating a Microsoft account and you’ll see a “Something went wrong” error message. You can then click “Skip” to skip the Microsoft account creation process.

Skipping Windows 10's Microsoft account creation.

Once you’ve skipped the Microsoft account creation, the old “Who’s going to use this PC?” screen will appear. You can now create an offline account and sign in to Windows 10 without a Microsoft account—the option was there all along.

Creating a local user account in Windows 10's setup process.

Even if you have a laptop with Wi-Fi, Windows 10 asks you to connect to your wireless network before reaching this part of the process. Most people will connect to the network and think a Microsoft account is required.

Perhaps a future version of Windows 10 will refuse to allow account creation until you’re connected to the internet. “After all,” Microsoft might say, “Telemetry shows most people just create Microsoft accounts.”

This is yet another dark pattern from the company that brought us “Upgrade now or upgrade tonight” during Windows 10’s free upgrade period.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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