Microsoft Just Hid The ‘Use Offline Account’ Option For Installing Windows 10, Here’s Where To Find It

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For the majority of our audience, chances are that Windows 10 is your operating system of choice for your desktop or laptop system. Since the operating system first launched back during the summer of 2015, it has become Microsoft’s fastest growing Windows release to date with a total of 900 million active users.

However, for those that don’t want the “full” Microsoft treatment when installing Windows 10, the folks in Redmond are [slightly] changing up how you can create a local account when doing a fresh install of Windows. Microsoft would prefer that you create a Microsoft Account, which allows you to sync information across multiple devices including passwords, Microsoft services (Xbox Live, OneDrive, Office 365, etc.), user settings and the like. 

With a local account, you don’t have to worry about any of that rigmarole. You can just have one password tied to one device and not worry about signing your digital life away to Microsoft when installing Windows 10.

With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903), you could simply put your device in Airplane Mode to disable the Wi-Fi and/or disconnect your network cable so that you weren’t connected to the internet. Then, when presented with the option to connect to a network, you could simply hit the “I don’t have internet,” click through to “Continue with limited setup”, after which you would be presented with an option to create an offline account.

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"Offline Account" has been replaced with "Domain join instead" in the lower lefthand corner.

Some people have taken to reddit and other online forums to say that the option to create an offline account has been removed after going through these steps. We’re happy to say, however, that the option has not been removed. But in Microsoft’s infinite wisdom, it has simply further obfuscated the option to persuade you to opt for a Microsoft Account.

The “Offline account” option has simply been renamed to “Domain join instead”. Once clicking this option, you will see the familiar prompt that allows you to set your username and go through the motions to complete your install. Microsoft of course still tries once again to get you to create an online account, but you obviously don’t have to at this point.

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It’s a small change, but one that is likely to leave more than a few customers scratching their heads on how to create a local account. And that is likely just what Microsoft wanted to do; sow confusion so that users would throw their hands up in frustration and simply cave to creating a Microsoft Account.

We get it, Microsoft wants users to be as closely intertwined into its ecosystem as possible. That ecosystem lock-in is important these days and Google encourages it with Android and Apple also does it with iOS. But for customers that are used to having a clear “choice” in how they manage their accounts in Windows, it would be nice if Microsoft would simply provide clear and concise options available for those that would prefer not to walk the line. Given how prevalent that phishing attacks are these days, and how services are being compromised by attackers all the time, it’s not such a bad thing to want to minimize your online footprint for security’s sake. 

(Windows 10 setup image via Kuinox/Hacker News)