Windows 10 recent builds & local account setup

Updated: October 19, 2019

Feeling bored? Not enough excitement or first-world problems in your life? Worry not! Windows 10 at your service - not to be confused with Windows as a Service, right. Indeed, if you've followed the tech news in the past three or four years, you may have noticed there's always a flurry of unexpected activity with Windows 10. This could be system changes after updates, this could be problems with updates, or this could be, the latest thingie, how to setup your local account after a fresh installation. Shouldn't be an issue right, except, seemingly, it is.

A few days ago, I came across an avalanche of articles discussing a (new) phenomenon: when you set up your Windows 10, it seems to be more difficult to create a local account, and you might be forced to use an online account instead. I read this on Ghacks, among other places, and then decided to do the test for myself, to see whether this is indeed the case. Let's see what happens.

Teaser

Windows 10 Home

I started with a Windows 10 Home edition installation - grab the ISO, commence evaluation. You go through the usual steps, which haven't changed much since Windows 7, and then, there's the user configuration. At this point, I had Cortana narrating, telling me this and that. Then, there was the user setup step.

Cortana talking

Indeed, there was only the Sign in with Microsoft option. Clicking the back arrow in the top-left corner would just cycle back to this screen. There's nothing here that allows the user to choose a different option.

Only online account available

Solution: disconnect from network

As outlined in many a tutorial published since this was discovered, the solution is to disconnect the host from the network - or not have it connected to begin with. My test instance had a wired connection, so it was all done automatically. The solution is to unplug the cable. With a Wireless network, you should simply skip the network step until you reach the fully installed desktop.

With the network disabled, once you hit the Back arrow, the screen will refresh, but now, you will actually see the local account setup page, and you will be asked to provide your password as well as configure three security questions. This last bit is annoying, but hey, we're making progress.

Local account now shown

Once this is complete, you will be asked to configure several privacy-related options, and then your desktop will be ready for use. Well, this actually means going through the endless list of settings and making sure your system is sane and quiet, but that's what my ultimate privacy guide for Windows 10 is all about.

Questions 1

Questions 2

Windows 10 installed

Local account in use

Windows 10 Professional

I continued the test by setting up an evaluation instance of the Professional Edition, and went through the same steps as before. Here, there's a big difference. First, the installer will ask you whether you want to configure your machine for personal use or as part of an organization - the latter allows you to join a domain and whatnot.

Account setup

Sign in, personal

Sign in, organization

In both cases, you have much more flexibility. With the Personal account setup, there's an option that says Offline account, and this is exactly what we want and need - a no-nonsense local account that does what you want and expect.

As you proceed with this, you will be ever-so-gently nudged to reconsider and use an online account. I had a line of text that says 'Or, even better, use an online account' in the bottom-left corner. And I got meself thinking, why. How is an online account better in any way on the classic desktop? Moreover, I was a huge fan of Windows Phone, I still use Lumia 950 oh bewoe me, so if anyone is going to feel really sad and dejected by the end of this year, it will be me and a handful of other people who use Windows Phone and still swear by its superior elegance and ergonomics. If Windows Phone was still a thing, I might actually consider using an online account, as there would be benefits in account sync and such like. But with that hope dashed, the only logical way is to use the desktop the way it's meant to be used.

Nudges

More nudges

Moreover, the statement Get things done ... and such may be applicable to the online account, but it is also applicable to the offline account! You can get things done and have fun and stay in touch. You buy Office and you use it. You buy an Xbox and you play on it. You download Skype and you chat to people. Simple.

And after the installation ...

I decided to spend a few more minutes in the Pro version, to see what else happens. Your Start menu still gets populated with a bunch of tiles that really serve no higher purpose. It's a Pro edition. Do I really need cutish games? If you try to download an alternative browser, you also have pointless Edge nudges about it being the optimal or preferred browser and whatnot. And after I installed both Firefox and IrfanView, I had to manually change the default program association.

Menu with nonsense tiles

Desktop cleaned up

I then fired Group Policy editor and checked whether update management is still possible. There are still lots of old policies lying around, and some of the options aren't available for Windows 10. For example, the old notify option isn't supported in Windows 10 (option 5), but it still shows. Shame, because it reduces flexibility and thus "forces" one to disable updates completely rather than be occasionally notified than there are some, as other configurations for automatic updates aren't flexible enough.

Group Policy, disable updates

Updates turned off

Conclusion

Good news, if you're a Windows 10 Pro edition user, you have the flexibility you need. Bad news, if you're a Home edition user, you have much less flexibility. Good news, disable network, and you will be able to configure a local account. Bad news, history shows things are only going to get worse. The Internet in 2019 is far worse than the one in 2009. The quality and state of software in 2019 is far worse than one in 2009. The level of chaos and privacy erosion across the tech space is greater than ever before. In 2029, things will be far, far worse for any intelligent person with critical thinking and accountability.

It is impossible to know how Windows 10 will evolve to match - or dictate - this reality. If you're not one of the mass-media consumers, i.e. low-IQ simian borgling, then the uncertainty and pain will surely delight you. Not. For now, you have some leeway and workarounds to get things done the normal, efficient way. Hopefully, this tutorial provides a brief temporal reprieve. Enjoy it while it lasts, and be grateful you were there to enjoy the Internet before it fully and utterly becomes the lowest common denominator of greed.

Cheers.

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