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Using Windows 8.1 without needing a Microsoft Account

I’ve recently had to get a couple of Windows 8.1 Pro tablets working with my works Office 365 setup. At first it was forcing me to use a Microsoft Account which I don’t want to use. After some web searching I was able to locate this article: http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2013/10/18/supporting-windows-mail-8-1-in-your-organization.aspx

In it there is instructions for using the Group Policy Editor to make MS accounts optional (yay!). here’s what needs to be done:

To apply the Group Policy setting:

  1. Launch GPEdit by opening the “run” prompt (Windows key + r), and entering GPEdit.msc
  2. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > App runtime
  3. Select Allow Microsoft accounts to be optional to configure the policy

If the Group Policy is applied and a Microsoft account is not used, the Communications apps will:

  • Prompt the user for a work account (i.e. an Exchange ActiveSync account) password
  • If account credentials are provided, use Exchange ActiveSync to synchronize email, Contacts and Calendar from the work account
  • A user can add additional accounts if desired. You can use corporate firewalls or other mechanisms to block access to any consumer email services as needed.

The following functionality will be unavailable to a user without a Microsoft Account:

  • Windows Store Application Installs

  • Account Settings roaming to additional devices

  • Connectivity to additional 3rd party services (e.g. Social sites)

  • Email communication from Microsoft regarding any updates to Microsoft Services Agreement.

There are a few caveats, but my first trials show it as being successful. As I explore more into Windows 8.1 I’ll trying to update this article.