Elon Musk blasts Microsoft about Windows 11’s account requirement – takes several hours to bypass it

Shutterstock image of Elon Musk
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Tesla boss Elon Musk voiced his displeasure with a new laptop on Sunday evening. The issue was how the Windows 11 install on the portable PC insisted Musk sign in with a Microsoft account. Tom’s Hardware has a popular guide on sidestepping this requirement and creating a local account. Several Twitter/X users responded with the baby steps required to succeed using this bypass technique. However, Musk was tripped up by his laptop auto-connecting to a local Wi-Fi access point, which didn’t have a password.

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“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! This is messed up,” lamented the tech CEO. “There used to be an option to skip signing into or creating a Microsoft account.” He asked his followers, “Are you seeing this too?”

Other social media users quickly responded, hoping to help. Moreover, Twitter/X’s Community Notes feature sparked to life, with context from readers confirming, “It is still possible to set up the latest version of Windows without a Microsoft account.” Musk shot back with the accusation that the Community Notes system was “failing.” As his personal attempts to bypass the Microsoft account requirements weren’t bearing fruit, “This option no longer exists,” he confidently announced.

Following the above, we saw Musk and his fans go down an anti-Microsoft rabbit hole. For example, the Tesla boss asserted that “since they now require that you use their services just to use your computer, @Microsoft can effectively shut off your computer!” His followers also started sharing the usual memes featuring Bill Gates conspiracy theories.

Several hours after announcing his Microsoft account requirement bypass struggles, Musk Tweeted/Xed “Finally got through it, thanks.” Some might say Musk had suffered from a senior moment or a ‘boomer moment,’ as he explained the error of his ways: “Laptop automatically connected to a local WiFi that didn’t have a password without asking. Was able to skip once I deselected that.”

Microsoft account swerving - use a restricted email instead?

We have a full guide here on sidestepping Microsoft's onerous requirement to avoid creating a local account. Another quick and easy method, which I used about three weeks ago, was to try and sign in to a Microsoft account using an invalid or ‘restricted’ email address. No network cable unplugging or Wi-Fi toggling is required for this method.

After attempting to sign in using a@a.com (for example) and inputting any old password string the installer pops up an error message saying “Oops, something went wrong.” Clicking the ‘Next’ button then allows you to add an offline user / password of your choice, set up three security questions, select your privacy options, and go and complete the first-time setup process.

Linux is the answer – say Linux users

Such is Elon Musk’s reach on Twitter/X that his public Windows 11 setup issues seem to have caused Elon, Microsoft, and Linux to be trending topics (at least in my ‘Trends for you’ and ‘Explore’ feeds). Of course, several Linux devotees were quick to steer Musk towards scrapping Windows 11 and instead join the 2024 is the Year of the Linux Desktop party.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • COLGeek
    Please keep the "genius" and other conspiracy theories clean and light hearted. Nothing to take too seriously here.
  • rluker5
    I can see why a guy who is in the spotlight would want to have PCs not on a shared MS account where PCs all want to sync and his use data is logged and potentially found. Especially with a push for an extra nosy AI.

    I keep my PCs on my MS account, but I'm just some regular guy nobody is looking at.
  • abufrejoval
    Please wake me when you can opt out of an online connection on a Tesla...
  • PEnns
    So, in other words Mr. Genius doesn't know how to avoid having an MS account.
  • Mindstab Thrull
    Regardless of what I think of Musk, he has a point:
    One should not need a Microsoft account (or any other kind) or find "loopholes" (for lack of better wording) in order to install an OS on a personal computer. Is it a good idea? Perhaps. Recommended? Potentially, especially if you have more than one machine and want to keep everything seamless between them (say, a tower and a laptop). But should it be NEEDED? No.
  • abufrejoval
    PEnns said:
    So, in other words Mr. Genius doesn't know how to avoid having an MS account.
    This isn't a matter of him not knowing how to circumvent it.

    He takes offence at Microsoft stripmining his genius to their benefit.

    While he obviously doesn't look into the mirror and recognizeses that this is exactly what he has no qualms doing himself on the everybody-to-himself-driving vehicles he sells but never quite relinquieshes to their owners.

    And like an aspiring junior politician who believes he is being victimized by everyone else, he's now looking for support.

    Well all of you who tweet: please give him the regards his dual standards deserve!
  • The TrippyHippie
    If they are giving you the O/S for free via a free licence while creating a microsoft account or through a free O/S upgrade option then I guess your at there mercy.
    (Not including being forced to Upgrade to a totally new O/S from your current O/S if you paid for the licence your system is currenty using, because then that would mean Microsoft have taken your option to upgrade for free in to thier own hands and not give you the choice to upgrade your paid for licence to a free upgrade licence)

    If you pay or have paid for a for Windows 8, 8.1, 10 or 11 licence then I personally think it's wrong to be forced in to having a Microsoft Account just to use the O/S you paid for unless you choose to upgrade your paid for licence to the free O/S upgrade path, which probs most people did back in the day, kinda feels sneaky looking back or a preemptive business move.
  • RandomWan
    In all fairness, they don't make the option to create a local account readily apparent, even after removing the absolute requirement they had previously (this could be bypassed, but it took working outside default OOBE).
  • ezst036
    Musk is not all that bright.

    Doesn't he know that Microsoft is working toward a future where they can charge a subscription fee for the OS? Everybody knows that!
  • garrett040
    RandomWan said:
    In all fairness, they don't make the option to create a local account readily apparent, even after removing the absolute requirement they had previously (this could be bypassed, but it took working outside default OOBE).
    I recall clearly when I was installing windows 11 that they have you connect to wifi first. And if you do connect (as elon had an open access point) you are not provided with the option to select "offline" or "limited" account. Its quite deceptive really. If you dont connect to any network then the option may be there.