When you first upgrade to Windows 10 you’re encouraged to sign in with a Microsoft account. There are some benefits with this, as it allows any Windows 10 device you have to sync data and preferences for various Microsoft services such as OneDrive and the Windows Store. But this sharing feature also means that you surrender quite a bit of personal information to Microsoft, which isn’t something everybody is entirely comfortable doing.
The good news is that you can create a local account instead, which will be stored only on the device you're signing up on. This will only take a few minutes, and is relatively simple. Here's how to set up Windows 10 without a Microsoft account.
There are a couple of ways to log in with a local account. You can either create a separate user, meaning you can swap between the two, or you can replace your existing Microsoft user account with a local one. This isn’t a permanent or destructive path, as you can reinstate the MS user account by reversing the process, but it’s worth noting that our test machine encountered problems after using this technique, which may or may not have been caused by the change. So be sure to perform a full system backup before you begin.
How to set up Windows 10 without a Microsoft account: Replacing your Microsoft account with a local account
First up we’ll explore replacing the account. To do this you’ll need to ensure that you are logged in as an Administrator. If you only have one account on your machine then that will be the one. Now open the Start Menu and go to Settings>Accounts>Your email and accounts. In the main pane you should see your current Microsoft account details, below which will be two lines of blue text reading Manage my Microsoft account and Sign in with a local account instead. Click on the latter to create a new local user account.
The first screen you’ll encounter will ask you to confirm your current password. Once you’ve done this you’ll be asked to enter the details for the local account you want to create. Complete the various fields and click Next. Now just click through the confirmations and your account will be unlinked from the automatic sync features that a Microsoft account uses. This doesn’t mean that OneDrive and Outlook will stop working, as the login details are retained for the individual apps that need them, but now your system will behave in a similar way to the kind of accounts that we used to have on Windows 7 machines.
How to set up Windows 10 without a Microsoft account: Creating a new user account
The other method for using a local account is to simply create one as an alternative. To do this open the Start Menu and navigate to Settings>Accounts>Your Account>Family and other users. In the Other Users section you’ll see the option to Add someone else to this PC.
Click this and then when you're prompted for an email address select the I don’t have this person’s sign-in information option, and on the next page click Add a user without a Microsoft account. Now just enter the username and password you want for the account and it will be created.
The new account will be a standard user, but if you want to upgrade it to an Administrator then when you’re in the Family & other users section click on the account and select Change account type, and select Administrator.
Once you've done that, you will be free to log in to your device without a Microsoft account.