Setting up Windows 11 with a Local User at First Boot
I like to make sure there is a back door to my PC, just in case something goes wrong with my main account. Sometimes my main account is a domain account, sometimes a local account, and sometimes a Microsoft account. In all cases, I want to start out with a local administrative user that can get me out of trouble down the road. I don’t care if this is considered best practice or not, because I have been doing this for 21 years, and it has never put me in the news, so I am good with it. If you are in a highly-regulated environment, this is probably no good, but that is very few of us.
Windows 11 is actually EASIER than Windows 10 when it comes to starting out your fresh computer with a local account. I read all the stories about how they don’t let you do that, but at the time of this writing, that is not true at all. The key seems to be that, upon first boot, when it asks you to connect to a wireless network (this is assuming you are using WiFi, which most people are at this point in time) you can connect to your network, but make sure to tell it not to remember the network. After the computer reboots shortly after that, it will simply ask you who is going to use the computer. This is where I recommend using a username and password that you will keep locked up in your lockbox, and use a different account that you will set up later.
Once you are in, you can connect to your wifi again (and have it automatically reconnect), then click on the gear icon to go to your Settings, then find the Accounts area, and add a “Family and other users” account. That will let you add another local account, which once set up, you can then click on and make it an administrative account, so you can install software and printers and whatnot without needing the original credentials you just set up. Or, you can choose to Sign in with a Microsoft Account. This SHOULD leave your existing user intact and set you up to log in as your Microsoft user. It MAY decide to convert your local account to your Microsoft account, which would make me sad, but honestly, I have not tried it, so I am not sure.
Also of note, I can’t imagine that this will not change within 6 months. You might still be able to do it, but the process could change. That is a hallmark of Microsoft, and we just have to live with it. There are other articles out there with all sorts of information on how to do this that are much more complicated. And, if you did not set it up this way out of the box, you will need them, or, you can always add a local account later and ignore the one you started with. As an IT guy that is doing this for others, I like to have the machine be as clean as possible, with as few accounts on it as possible.