I saw a recent post in a Facebook group that I admin, This is an IT Support Group (100k+ members), complaining about Windows 11 requiring an internet connection for setup, which can be a real pain.
Why Microsoft requires internet access during the Windows setup process
- Automatic Updates and Security: Internet access allows Windows to check for and download important updates and security patches during the installation process. This ensures that the operating system starts with the latest security features and fixes, which is crucial for protecting the system from vulnerabilities and threats.
- Microsoft Account Integration: Microsoft has been encouraging users to create or sign in with a Microsoft account during Windows setup. This integration provides several benefits, such as syncing settings across devices, accessing the Microsoft Store, and using cloud services like OneDrive. Internet access is often required to create or sign in with a Microsoft account.
- Digital Licensing: Windows 10 and later versions have moved towards digital licensing, where your system's hardware configuration is associated with a digital license. Internet access is often necessary to verify and activate this license with Microsoft servers.
- User Experience Customization: Internet access can help personalize the Windows experience by offering customization options, suggesting apps and settings, and providing a smoother overall user experience.
- Cortana and Voice Assistants: For users who choose to enable Cortana or other voice assistants during the setup process, internet access is necessary to utilize these features effectively as they rely on cloud services for voice recognition and other functionalities.
- App Store and App Updates: If users want to access the Microsoft Store to download apps or games, they'll need internet access. Additionally, app updates often come from the Microsoft Store, and having an internet connection ensures that you get the latest versions.
- Account Recovery and Troubleshooting: In case of account issues or troubleshooting needs, internet access can be beneficial for diagnosing and resolving problems, as well as for recovering a Microsoft account if necessary.
This requirement can be annoying for personal Home SKU users, but also especially for technicians or sysadmins configuring individual systems without OEM/customised images.
How to bypass the OOBE Internet Requirement
Here's the simple step-by-step process that I shared with the group:
- In the "Let's connect you to a network" screen, press Shift+F10 to launch cmd
- Type the following command: OOBE\BYPASSNRO
- After successful execution, the system will restart and restart the OOBE session box
- When you reach the "Let's connect you to a network" screen, click "I don't have Internet"
- Continue to click "limited setup"
- Accept the license agreement and continue to create a local user account
I'd also recommend disconnecting from the network if the limited option is not visible.
If you want to learn more about how to customise the Windows 11 OOBE, see below:
Disadvantages of OOBE
- Privacy Concerns: Microsoft may collect telemetry data and usage information, which can be disconcerting for those who prioritise their digital privacy.
- Data Usage: If you're using a limited data plan or a metered internet connection, downloading updates and syncing data during setup can consume a significant amount of data, potentially leading to additional costs.
- Dependency on Internet: Relying on an internet connection can be inconvenient if you're setting up Windows in an environment with unreliable or no internet access, such as in remote areas, during travel, or in situations where Wi-Fi is not available.
- Time Consuming: Downloading updates and syncing data during setup can lengthen the installation process, making it more time-consuming, especially if you have a slow or unstable internet connection.
- Account Creation Pressure: Microsoft often encourages users to create or sign in with a Microsoft account during setup. While this offers certain benefits, it can be seen as pressuring users into creating an account, which may not be desirable for those who prefer to use a local account.
- Limited Functionality Without Internet: Some features and services may be limited or disabled when you don't have an internet connection during setup. For example, you may not be able to access the Microsoft Store, use certain cloud services, or enable voice assistants like Cortana.
- Network Security: Connecting to an unknown or unsecured network during setup can pose security risks. It's important to be cautious about the network you connect to, especially when entering sensitive information during the Windows setup process.
- Updates and Compatibility: While automatic updates are generally beneficial for security, they can occasionally cause compatibility issues with specific hardware or software configurations. Users may prefer to manually control when and which updates are installed.
As always – stay safe out there!