Microsoft Musk be stopped: Tesla CEO highlights annoying Windows 11 flaw

Photograph of Elon Musk superimposed over the Windows 11 installation window requiring a Microsoft account to continue.
(Image credit: NA)

Microsoft caught some shade on X (formerly Twitter) this week after the social media platform's owner and CEO, Elon Musk, ran into issues when attempting to set up his new Windows laptop. Particularly when it came to Microsoft's strong-arm tactics in pressuring people to sign up for a Microsoft Account during the setup process.

While Musk might be a billionaire, it seems he's still susceptible to the pitfalls of the average Joe when it comes to setting up your new Windows laptop. Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 have made it very difficult for users to finalize the installation process without signing up for a Microsoft account, something many users have taken umbrage with for years now.

Musk's Microsoft mires

"This is messed up" claimed Must in a post venting his frustrations with Microsoft's setup process. "[I] just bought a new PC laptop and it won't let me use it unless I create a Microsoft account, which also means giving their AI access to my computer!" he continued, which could be a thinly veiled statement of his thoughts on user privacy regarding Microsoft's AI usage.

Musk hasn't been shy about voicing his opinion on Microsoft's AI goals, with the billionaire having taken to X/Twitter at roughly this time last year to voice concerns over OpenAI, and Microsoft's perceived influence over the company.

Musk co-founded the startup AI company, which launched as an open-source nonprofit in 2015, before eventually leaving in 2018 before the skyrocketing success of AI LLM (Large Language Model) ChatGPT.

After Musk's departure, the company would switch its stance to a closed-source, for-profit with strong ties to Microsoft through heavy investment. The results of which have seen Microsoft and OpenAI become heavily intertwined through the tech giant's adoption of the latter's GPT-4 and Dall.E 3 models across its ecosystem, including the new Windows AI assistant, Copilot.

Does Musk have a point?

Whatever you think of Musk's personal politics, when it comes to pointing out one of Microsoft's most annoying Windows operating system features, I think we're all on the same page.

Whether you're invested in computer privacy, want to set up a computer for friends or family, or even get it ready for resale, forcing users to create a Microsoft account on installation is a hassle nobody should be forced to deal with.

After all, you lose out on very little of the Windows experience without a Microsoft account. Unless you're massively dependent on Microsoft's services like OneDrive or the Microsoft Store, you're unlikely to be missing out on much.

The most notable omissions from your device will likely be full disk encryption for the system drive and account syncing across multiple devices. However, much of the hard push for a Microsoft account in later versions of Windows comes across as more of a way for Microsoft to peddle its services to you.

Which it will gladly do at every opportunity with a dozen or more ways to present ads to users across its operating system. Thankfully, there are ways to block these.

Can you install Windows 10 or Windows 11 without a Microsoft account?

Yes, you can install both Windows 10 and Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, but it's made neither clear nor easy during the install process, leading many users to presume the option doesn't exist at all.

However, during the installation process, when faced with the screen asking "Is this the right country or region?" Turn off your internet modem/router and hit Shift + F10 on your keyboard.

This will open up a command prompt where you can then type "OOBE\BYPASSNRO"  (without quotations) before hitting Enter/Return on your keyboard. Your laptop or PC will then reboot, bringing you back to the same screen as before.

Hit Shift + F10 once more and resolve any further complications by making sure your computer shows no sign of internet connectivity by typing "ipconfig /release" (without quotations) before hitting Enter/Return once again.

You can now close the black command prompt window and continue the installation as normal. When you reach the screen asking to connect to a network, simply choose "I don't have internet" and "Continue with limited setup" to force the installer into setting up a local account for you.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.