This post is the author’s only opinion.
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 will take a substantial step back from Windows 10. Specifically, Windows 11 Home will now require both Internet access and a Microsoft account to set up the PC.
Speaking as a reviewer, this requirement is ridiculous. I regularly build and clean test benches. I am not interested in creating a burner account to handle this task and I don’t always need to connect a test bed to the internet. If I am trying to compare the behavior of two specific versions of Windows, an operating system that forces me to update to the latest version as an installation condition literally prevents me from doing my job.
However, I recognize that I am a niche case. While I find these restrictions annoying, they are no problem for the average PC user. And they’re not the reason I’ll never sign into a Microsoft account to use my PC.
My PC is not the Internet
I am willing to put up with the fact that this may be an artifact of the time I grew up. For me, my PC and “Internet” are two completely different things. I connect to the latter to download files, read news and watch content, but it is not the entirety of my personal computer. Using an online account to log into my personal PC violates the distinction between the two. Strange as it is – because I’m willing to admit that this is a personal oddity – I find the distinction important to me. It actually matters a lot. I do not want my local Windows account is synonymous with online access.
But that’s not my only reason.
The other reason I won’t use an online account is that Microsoft won’t stop trying to force me to use one.
I’m not accusing Microsoft of spying on users or abusing its data collection capabilities. While there were some telemetry issues with Windows 10 initially, the company addressed them in subsequent updates. There have been no privacy or security scandals caused by using a Microsoft account instead of a local account. As far as I know, using a Microsoft account instead of a local account does not put your privacy or security at risk.
My problem with Microsoft and non-local accounts is this: Since the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft has pulled out all the dirty tricks in the book. It obfuscated the ability to create a local account by hiding it in unclear language. It distributed installers that hid the option to create a local account unless you were offline when you ran the installation. It distributed “Get Windows 10” tools that were so aggressive that they acted more like malware than a product created by a Fortune 500 company.
I won’t be intimidated into adopting an online account as a local login because Microsoft has found it convenient to gaslight their users. If Microsoft had offered the option as a feature with Windows 10 and later left the problem alone, I could have eventually changed. But it was not so. AND important to Microsoft using an online account.
That’s why I’ll never use one.
I don’t know why Microsoft wants everyone to use an online login. I don’t know why Microsoft felt it had the right to treat its customers like it did with the Get Windows 10 campaign or its six-year battle to get everyone to use online accounts. But I will not play this game. I’m not going to cover myself up and say “Well, you can actually create a local account after logging in for the first time and switch to that”. The default settings have tremendous power and Microsoft knows it.
The option to create a Windows login via an online account is great. The requirement for doing so is an unacceptable intrusion into what the user should be personal computer. I am not interested in joining the Greater Microsoft Data Conglomerate in any capacity beyond the level at which I am already forced to participate and will not reward what I consider borderline abusive behavior with compliance. Companies that intend to treat your data in an ethical way don’t take it like a slobbering ambulance tracker.
According to Satya Nadella, “Windows has always been synonymous with sovereignty for creators and agency for consumers.” Maybe once he did. Today, “consumer agency” seems to mean “consumer agency, as long as they do Microsoft approved choices, use Microsoft products and services, don’t want to delay updates and don’t worry about their PCs rebooting from under them without warning. “
It’s not the kind of agency I had in mind when I sat down to learn MS-DOS 3.1 thirty years ago. Not the kind of agency I had in mind when I bought my first Windows 98 SE PC. It is not the kind of agency that I am willing to accept today.