In case you missed it, alongside the release of the most recent Windows 11 Insider build 22616 that brought in many changes, the Redmond giant also announced that having a Microsoft Account (MSA) and internet connectivity are now mandatory for Insiders during the initial setup (OOBE) of their Windows 11 Pro edition devices. It is compulsory only if your Windows 11 Pro system is for personal use. As expected, a device set up for Work or School does not require a MSA account or internet connection to be setup as that's something based on volume licensing.
Here is the full statement from Microsoft regarding this:
Previously, we shared new requirements for internet and MSA on the Windows 11 Pro edition. Today, Windows Insiders on Windows 11 Pro edition will now require MSA and internet connectivity during the initial device setup (OOBE) only when setting up for personal use. If you choose to setup device for Work or School, there is no change, and it will work the same way as before.
The announcement is a follow-up to a previous development back in February with Build 22557 that expanded the need for MSA and internet for personal use on Windows 11 Pro users too, something that has always been the case for Home edition users as Microsoft apparently sees those running Windows 11 Pro for personal use as individual customers that can't be treated the same way as a group like School or Work PCs. Though, this is just an educated guess on our part as Microsoft itself hasn't really ever clarified as to why such a thing was made mandatory on Windows 11.
Sadly though, the "Network Connection Flow" workaround, which was discovered by one of our readers warwagon, doesn't appear to be working anymore, at least since build 22616. Here's what you get now:
However, the newer OOBE\BYPASSNRO workaround still works and readers should give it a shot in case you wanted to bypass creating a Microsoft Account and skipping internet connectivity when setting up OOBE.