Born to Learn

  • The first wave of recertification exams, corresponding to all five MCSD specialties, is now available.  Details can be found on the web pages referenced below.  Please note that recertification exams cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent product and process changes.

    Recertification exams for five SQL Server and Windows Server-related specialties will be released by October 2014.  Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint recertification exams will be released in April 2015. 

    MCSD Recertification Exams:

    70-490: Recertification for MCSD: Windows Store Apps using HTML5

    70-491: Recertification for MCSD: Windows Store Apps using C#

    70-494: Recertification for MCSD: Web Applications

    70-499: Recertification for MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management

    70-517: Recertification for MCSD: SharePoint Applications

  • Microsoft Press Store is having a big sale! From August 28 to September 3, 2014, take advantage of this great offer:

    • Buy 1 book, save 35%
    • Buy 2 books, save 45%
    • Buy 3 books, save 55%

    The discounts apply to all paper books and ebooks. Go to this special link now and fill up your cart. Happy shopping and reading!


  • Every year, we randomly select...well...a lot of MCPs to participate in a survey to gauge satisfaction with the MCP program overall, evaluate the Microsoft Certification Program relative to programs of other IT vendors, and determine areas for improvement. We recently received the results from that survey, and my history doing survey research at Boeing as well as at Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated that people are more likely to respond to surveys if they think something will change based on the results. And, if you've been following my posts, you know that I take this stuff seriously and that I really do value your feedback and will leverage it to make improvements to our exams and program.

    Here are some highlights that I found particularly interesting:

    • MCPs obtain certification to enhance their career opportunities (skill building and updating) and distinguish themselves from other.
      • What was particularly interesting about this finding was that MCPs from the Americas were more likely to earn certifications as a way to distinguish their skills while those in EMEA and APAC earned certification to build their skills.
    • The value of certification is driven by the job opportunities that the certification creates, which is not surprising...
      • More surprising and interesting to me is that you're more likely to value a certification if it gives you the skills to effectively identify and resolve technology-based issues. In other words, Microsoft certifications are valued by MCPs for effectively implementing, building, coding, testing, and/or deploying Microsoft technologies in organizations. We need to make sure that the skills that we assess are ones that will help you be more effective in helping organizations become more productive!

    • Hiring managers continue to use MCP certifications as part of their hiring process and use has increased over the last year. More important, the perceived value of our certifications among hiring managers has increased significantly over the last year as well.

    Themes that we need to focus on to improve our program, including training and exams:

    • Respondents noted that our content (both training and exams) was not relevant because it was assessing skills that are not used in the real world. You want to be tested on features that you actually use on the job. Honestly, this will always be a challenge for a global certification program because our technologies are used very differently by different people and different organizations. I am curious about YOUR ideas on how we can make the content more relevant and real world for you given our global reach. Got ideas? Let me know!
    • Certifications need more 'real world' value in the sense that they help you obtain jobs and solve real world business problems. Any ideas on how Microsoft Learning might move the needle on this one?

    We are going to do mini-variations of this survey each quarter, so we can be more proactive in identifying opportunities for improvements. YOU might be randomly selected to participate. So, make sure your email address is up to date, keep your eye open for the survey invite, and participate if you have the opportunity. I would love to hear from you!

  • |

    About the author

    Kenji Onozawa is a new Community Manager at Microsoft Learning. He helps to connect people within the Microsoft Learning community and provides our online communities with useful information to help ease the certification process. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


    Being brand new to Microsoft Learning, one of my first missions is to actively try to meet as many people on the team as possible. In the past, I’ve found that this is a great best practice when starting a new job because it helps to have relationships in place—before you need something from a colleague! Of course, as a new Community Manager, I figure that as long as I’m meeting people, I can use the opportunity to give the community an inside look at our team. So I set out in the office with a video camera in hand…

    Last week, as part of the “Inside MSL” blog series, I introduced you to Liberty Munson, our Psychometrician. This week, I’m back to introduce you to Briana Roberts, a Content Manager for Microsoft IT Academy. During the short two minute interview, I asked her the following questions:

    • What are your responsibilities as a Content Manager?

    • What is your favorite thing about your job?

    • What is your #1 tip for people trying to get a job at Microsoft?


    Thanks to Briana for the opportunity to interview her! She was a great sport.

    In addition to being one of Microsoft IT Academy’s rock star Content Managers, you can also find Briana in Microsoft Learning’s ACE NewsByte videos, where she helps to bring you the latest certification and training news.

    Do you have a question you’d like us to ask in future Inside MSL videos? Let us know in the comments section!

  • Last week, we kicked off our brand new “Ask an MCT” blog series with an interview with Armando Lacerda, a long-time Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and a moderator in our Born To Learn online study groups.

    Today, we’re back with our next post in the series—helpful advice for Microsoft Certification exam newbies from another great MCT, Nate Stammer. With nearly four years of in-classroom experience training students in technologies like Windows Server 2012, System Center, private cloud, Exchange, and virtualization, Nate has a ton of knowledge about how to best prepare for Microsoft Certification exams. We’re excited to introduce him to you and to share his insights here on Born To Learn!

    1. When did you first become an MCP? How many IT certifications (Microsoft and others) do you hold?

    I first became an MCP in 2000, and I currently have about 20 IT certifications.

    2. What is one thing about taking a Microsoft exam that a first-time candidate might find surprising?

    I think newbies to Microsoft Certification exams might find the length of the actual exam and of each individual exam question a bit surprising. I remember the first time I took an exam, I actually ran out of time! As you take more exams, you learn how to manage your time better. But as you go into your first exam, please watch the clock and don’t make the same mistake I did.

    3. What’s a common mistake that first-time candidates make when preparing for Microsoft exams?

     The most common mistake first-time candidates make is that they do not read through all of the objectives and information on the Microsoft Learning website. As a result, I find that many first-timers do not know all of the objectives that an exam will cover. 

    4. What’s your advice for IT professionals who are interested in pursuing Microsoft Certifications but don’t feel they have the time?

    Simply put, make the time. A Microsoft Certification is a great confidence builder and looks good on your résumé. To help find the time, think of it as investing in yourself. If you do that, you will be able to find the time you need, since there is always time to invest in yourself and your future.


    Thanks to Nate for taking the time to share his insights and knowledge with us here on Born To Learn. Please be on the lookout for more helpful advice for Microsoft Certification newbies as part of our “Ask an MCT” blog series!

    Are you preparing for a Microsoft Certification exam as part of our Certification Challenge? Do you have an exam preparation question for our Microsoft Certified Trainers? Leave it in the comments section, and we may use it in future posts.

    Want to connect with Nate? Connect with him on Born To Learn. You can also find Nate helping to moderate our online study groups, where he answers questions in the MCSA: Windows Server 2012, MCSE: Server Infrastructure, and MCSE: Messaging (Exchange) forums.  

  • Well…I did it.  Two days ago, I passed Exam 70-485: Advanced Windows Store App Development Using C# and completed my requirements to earn the MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using C# certification.


    Of course, I'm elated - this achievement makes it to my Top 10 list of professional goals - but I'm also, quite frankly, exhausted.  You see, it took me three attempts to make it across the finish line.  And, to get there, I not only had to keep up my resolve to finish the task while juggling a full work schedule, but also had to go deep, deep, DEEP in my use of exam prep resources to get there.  Here's a summary from my "travel" journal:


    Log entry: 12-Mar-2014

    Just passed Exam 70-484. Can't slow down now, with my cert goal in sight.  Downloading the 70-485 Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Jump Start videos this evening to put the exam objectives in context of real app development.


    Log entry: 07-Apr-2014

    Finished reviewing the MVA videos and purchased the 70-485 Exam Ref Guide to go deep into the details behind the exam objectives.


    Log entry: 18-Jun-2014

    Finished my first full read of the Exam Ref Guide, and going back through to highlight key points.   Scheduled my exam for 7-July to keep me motivated.


    Log entry: 07-Jul-2014

    Ready to go, but ran into some test center issues, so need to re-schedule the exam for 30-Jul.  Taking advantage of the extra time to begin working manually through the coding samples to help develop "muscle memory" for program structure and API calls.


    Log entry: 30-Jul-2014

    Unfortunately, I missed passing by a few questions.  Immediately scheduled retake for tomorrow.  With a limited study window, took advantage of available practice test to focus my studies on weakest areas reported on the score report.


    Log entry: 31-Jul-2014

    Good news - incrementally improved my performance in trouble areas on the exam.  Bad news - dropped my score in some other areas that I thought I had mastered.  Clearly, there are still a few concepts I'm not grasping, so, I need to get some additional perspective on them.  I have a few weeks before I can reschedule the exam, so I'm using my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) access to review the materials from Course 20485.  I'd prefer to sit in on the full training to benefit from the instructor's implementation experience, but cannot fit that into my schedule right now.


    Log entry: 18-Aug-2014

    Success - passed with comfortable margin!  Review of the course materials really helped me address those trouble areas.


    So, there you have it, friends and colleagues.  A 10-month journey to MCSD, truly filled with learning experiences along the way.  If I may offer some advice:

    1. Don't ever give up.  Set study milestones and dates, and don't let an exam fail (or two) stand in the way of your goal.
    2. Use the full range of available exam prep resources.  MVA Jump Starts, Exam Prep guides, practice tests, instructor-led training, independent hands-on use of the software products and even taking the exams when not fully prepared each serve a purpose, providing you with different perspectives to master the required knowledge.


    What's next for me?  Well, I have two new goals in mind:

    1. Apply the knowledge gained through MCSD to start building my own Windows Store apps.  Fate must be on my side, because, when I celebrated my success on Monday with a trip to my favorite used bookstore, I found a copy of the exact toy I planned to turn into my first published app, so bought it for research purposes. (tune into a future Born To Learn blog entry to find out more!)
    2. Augment my skills as an app developer by earning one of our newest certifications on Microsoft Azure development.  (I'll talk to this in more detail in a future blog entry, as well.)

  • Based on customer demand, Microsoft Learning and Microsoft Premier Field Engineering (PFE) are expanding the App Review To Cert Pilot to cover the worldwide MCP community.

    Originally launched in July, this program aligns with the needs of software developers for a real-world performance-based alternative to exams for validating their technical skills.


    In this program, HTML5/WinJS or C#/XAML developers will receive their MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification by completing the following activities:

    1. A 2-4 hour live (via Lync) technical review of their applications by the PFE App Consult team, and successfully addressing any identified must-fix issues.  Apps will be evaluated based on implementation of features corresponding to key Windows Store Essentials (481 or 484) exam objectives:

    • Design the UI layout and structure
    • Design and implement Process Lifecycle Management
    • Plan for application deployment
    • Implement Search and Share
    • Manage application settings and preferences
    • Create layout-aware apps to handle windowing modes
    • Design and implement data presentation, the app/nav bar, and navigation in an app
    • Create and manage tiles
    • Manage input devices
    • Retrieve data remotely

    2. Submission and acceptance of their application to the Windows Store

    3. Passing the associated Advanced Windows Store (482 or 485) exam in the certification path


    Registration for the pilot program is open July 3-Oct 3 and is limited to 100 applicants with original applications that they alone have authored which:

    1. have not yet been submitted to the Windows Store
    2. will be ready for submission within 2 weeks of registration in the pilot program

    To earn the exam credit, all activities must be completed within 90 days of acceptance into the pilot program.


    To apply for this program, please send an email to

  • |

    About the author

    Kenji Onozawa is a new Community Manager at Microsoft Learning. He helps to connect people within the Microsoft Learning community and provides our online communities with useful information to help ease the certification process. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


    “What is a psychometrician, and how does she affect everyone who takes Microsoft certification exams?”

    This is just one of the questions I had as I entered the office of Liberty Munson, Microsoft Learning’s Principal Pyschometrician. As I talked with her, I learned how incredibly important her role is to the overall quality and integrity of all of our Microsoft Certifications. Thanks to Liberty, when you pass and receive a Microsoft Certification, it’s truly a meaningful career milestone! And it serves as proof to hiring managers and others that you understand Microsoft technologies.   

    How does Liberty uphold the quality and integrity of Microsoft Certification exams? Get the answer to that and the following questions in our short, three-minute interview:

    • What is a psychometrician, and how does she affect everyone who takes Microsoft Certification exams?

    • What is your favorite thing about your position?

    • What is your #1 tip for candidates looking to get a job at Microsoft?

    Thanks again to Liberty Munson for the interview! In addition to being our psychometrician, Liberty is also one of the faces of Microsoft Learning’s ACE NewsByte videos and a frequent blogger here on Born To Learn.  

    Do you have a question for Liberty? Leave it in the comments section, and we may use it in another video interview!

  • Earlier this week, we introduced you to Armando Lacerda, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), who shared his advice for newbies preparing to take a Microsoft Certification exam for the first time. This week, Armando is back to share with us stories from his experience as a long-time MCT who has travelled the world, training IT professionals in Microsoft technologies. Enjoy!


    1. When did you become an MCT?

    My first application to become an MCT was back in 1999.

    2. What and where are you training now?

    I am an independent trainer, and my primary focus is on SQL Server. Nowadays, I’m mainly teaching around the Americas (North, Central, and South) but I’ve taught in the Middle East, as well.

    3. Why do you enjoy training people and helping them to pursue Microsoft Certifications?

    I enjoy training people because it’s beneficial and it helps professionals showcase their expertise. Another reason is that, while in the classroom, I can share with my students what I know about Microsoft technologies while also learning about their experiences and real-world struggles. I usually tell them, “Please bring questions,” because I enjoy collecting them. Over the years, I’ve gathered literally thousands of student questions in my book. This in-classroom experience with my students is extremely beneficial because it brings me scenarios and real-life situations I would never otherwise face.

    4. Please share a memorable candidate-related story from your experience as a Microsoft Certified Trainer.

    I was once hired to teach a month-long SQL Server 2008 R2 curriculum in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest! It was in an industrial city, called Manaus, in Brazil. It was an evening class, so students would show up after their office shifts. What I remember about this class is that my students would return to class, night after night, and say to me, “Hey Armando, that thing you taught us last night—I used it today in the office. It worked like a charm, and my boss was really impressed!” It was delightful!

    Thanks again to Armando for allowing us to interview him about his experiences working as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. If you’d like to connect with him, visit our online study groups. He helps to answer questions there as a Database Certification Study Group moderator.

    Do you have a question you’d like to have answered in an upcoming “Ask an MCT” blog post? Leave it in the comments section, and we might use it in a future post.

  • To better align with how technology professionals deploy Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint, the Microsoft certification team has made an exciting update to the Communication, Messaging, and SharePoint MCSE certifications.

    You can now satisfy the prerequisites for pursuing these three MCSE certifications by having either MCSA: Office 365 or MCSA: Windows Server 2012. Having these options allows you to choose the path that best meets your career path or organization’s needs. Taking the MCSA: Office 365 path to your MCSE is a great choice if your organization is considering, or has deployed, cloud-based solutions. For those who focus on deploying on-premise, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is still the path for you.

    Be sure to visit the MCSE pages for more information, including training options.

    MCSE: Communications (Lync)

    MCSE: Messaging (Exchange)

    MCSE: SharePoint


  • Have you heard? Microsoft Learning is making easier for you to keep your digital Microsoft Official Courses (MOC) up to date through new functionality called "Fresh Editions." Sounds cool, doesn't it? Liberty and Briana share some of the highlights and benefits of this awesome new functionality. Learn more by watching this ACE NewsByte!

  • Justin Durrant would seem to have life figured out. He’s 35, lives in the Minneapolis area, and has a high-powered job with Best Buy, leading that company’s migration from legacy Microsoft Windows 2003 servers to Windows Server 2012. In his spare time he enjoys playing Forza 5 on Xbox.

    But by Justin’s own admission, his life could have turned out very differently. “I just didn’t have a real stable childhood,” he says. “I was causing a lot of trouble in my teenage years – a lot more than most people.” He liked to learn, and was a good student. But his penchant for getting into trouble took him off track. Two months into eighth grade, he quit school.

    Justin DurrantLooking back, Justin thinks that could have led to serious trouble. Fortunately, he was able to turn things around. It took a while, as he bounced between homes of friends and family members. At 16, though, he met a young woman whom he later would marry. He realized that if he was to create a stable life for the two of them, he had to develop a career.

    In 1997 he and his wife were living in Reno, Nev. with her grandparents. One day, the two made a trip to a local big-box store, where they came across a Hewlett-Packard desktop PC running Microsoft Windows 95. They bought it.

    “I was just enthralled with it,” Justin recalls. “I remember taking it out of the box – I think it had a 200-megabyte hard drive – and then I spent hours and days tinkering with it. I got it online, which back then happened with an AOL disk. Pretty soon I ran out of free hours and had to subscribe.”

    Inspired by his new PC, Justin decided a career in technology was for him. He moved back to Minneapolis and enrolled in Globe College, where he earned a two-year degree in networking. During that time he also found his first tech-related job: A work-study gig at a community college, providing students with support for printing, email, access to floppy disks and more.

    At about the same time Justin also earned his first Microsoft certification, an MCSA certification for Windows 2000 Server. And he soon had moved up the tech ladder to bigger things, in 2002 landing a position with Adaptec, where he maintained several Windows NT/2000 based servers and designed and maintained disaster recovery and backup strategies.

    Since then, Justin has been a certification machine, keeping up with Windows Server through 2003 and 2008, and now on the cloud-based 2012 version. He’s also earned certificates in areas such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Outlook, and others.

    In his current role as infrastructure engineer for Best Buy, he is handling tasks such as providing operational support for Windows 2003/2008/2012 servers, and managing a migration from Exchange 2007 to Microsoft Office 365.

    “The springboard for my entire career has been that first Windows Server certification,” he says. “I’ve found more value in certifications than anything from college.”

    Justin especially likes taking the free online training from Microsoft Virtual Academy. “A lot of those classes are self-paced, which is how I learn best,” he says. “You can dig deeper than in instructor-based courses, which usually are more structured.”

    One thing Justin hopes to see is more emphasis on simulation-based exams, in which participants are asked to actually build a sample product or demonstration.

    Writing for the “Success Stories” page of Microsoft Learning, Justin is clear on the role tech and Microsoft Certifications have played in his life. “I look back on how my path could have had a very different outcome. I am thankful to be doing what I love and keeping myself marketable with Microsoft Certifications.”

    Thanks for letting us tell your story, Justin. We know there are more great stories out there about the power of training and certification. What’s yours? Go to our Born To Learn Success Stories page and tell us!

    Related resources:

  • Those of you who are participating in our Certification Challenge are familiar with our online study groups here on Born To Learn. Many Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) volunteer their time and expertise by moderating the study group forums, and we want to introduce them to our broader community with a series of interviews on our blog.

    To kick off the series, please meet Armando Lacerda. Armando has years of experience training database professionals and helping them prepare for Microsoft Certification exams, and we’re excited to have him share his knowledge with you here!

    1. When did you first become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)? How many IT certifications (Microsoft and others) do you hold?

    My first certification is in Visual Basic 4.0, which I earned way back in 1996. Today, I hold more than 60 certifications, mainly from Microsoft, but I have some Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) certs under my belt, as well.

    2. What is one thing about taking a Microsoft exam that a first-time candidate might find surprising?

    I hear a lot of first-time candidates saying, “The questions were surprisingly simple,” and, in the same breath, “I don’t see how I failed it.” The gap is that the questions in the exams are not focused on the candidate’s everyday activity on the job, but rather on the main (read: most important) features of the product.

    3. What’s a common mistake that first-time candidates make when preparing for Microsoft exams?

    I always tell my students to pay attention to the gaps, meaning the areas on the exam’s objective domain which they don’t play with very often (or at all). Overlooking them—or not spending hands-on time testing these features—is a common mistake that blows candidates away when taking the exam.

    Another common mistake that candidates often make is to fight the answers. Time and time again, I’ve seen candidates fighting the possible options, saying, “I wouldn’t do it in any of these ways!” My advice is not to do this. The point is not how you would do it but rather which option(s) accomplish the result. Don’t let the sudden approach distract you. Don’t fight the question. Focus on the topic and on the subtle variations of the possible answers.

    4. What’s your advice for IT professionals who are interested in pursuing Microsoft Certifications but don’t feel that they have the time?

    Every investment requires some sacrifice. So here is my advice: make time. We have to make time not just to read good books but also to have hands-on experience. We have to make time to mess around with the product.


    Thanks to Armando for taking the time to share his insights with us in this first post in our “Ask an MCT” series. Be sure to watch for more posts and useful insights from our MCTs in the future! 

    Do you have a Microsoft Certification exam preparation question you’d like answered? Leave it in the comments section, and we may use it in future posts.

    Want to connect with Armando? Find his profile on Born To Learn.

  • Did you know that you can take the first step toward earning your MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification by submitting a Windows Store App through our App Review pilot program? Microsoft Learning Experiences is exploring a wide variety of alternatives to incorporate more performance based assessments of your skills throughout our certification program, and this pilot program represents one possible solution for developers of Windows Store Apps. Be a part of the future, and help us figure out how we can scale this to other developer spaces by participating in the pilot program! This pilot program is limited to 100 candidates, and we are getting close to filling the roster, so don't delay. Watch as Liberty and Briana discuss some of the cool aspects of this pilot program, sign up if you develop apps, and let us know what you think!

  • Saturday, August 4, 2014 was a perfect Seattle summer day. The annual Seafair festivities were happening all over the city, on the lakes, and in the air. This year, the vibes were even livelier with the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals happening in Seattle.

    The highlight of my weekend was taking my daughters to Imagine Cup Day, held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) by Lake Union. It was a fantastic day full of hands-on learning opportunities and family-oriented entertainment. We had a chance to see all the Imagine Cup finalist teams showcase their projects and talk to the team members directly. The enthusiasm and dedication of these young technologists are contagious.

    One of the most fun (and super marketable) project was by Team Butterfly from Bahrain. The two-woman team, Alaa Abdulraheem and Marwa Buhaila, gave us a quick run-through of their creation: a one-of-a-kind Nail Polish Mixer. It is the combination of a patented, Wi-Fi enabled device and a universal Windows app that delivers custom nail polish on-demand in 50 seconds. Your very own nail color, in 50 seconds! Add some glitter or coordinate with your hair or outfits, this combination of hardware and software is both fun and practical. Team Butterfly won 3rd place in the innovation category. I can’t wait to see their invention at day spas and in the cosmetic product aisles someday soon.

    My daughter, a budding scientist, was especially excited about a project called Molecular Maker, by Team CodeBlue from India. With this app, students and researchers can view and display a 2D or 3D graphical representation of the element or molecule entered by them. It was built to work hand-in-hand with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which makes it so much easier to work on projects for research documentation, school assignments, or lecture presentations. You can even zoom in or rotate the model! The app provides details about a large number of molecules, or users can add their own molecules to the database. It makes complex chemistry tasks easy to understand and show.

    Speaking of documentation and presentation, another great app we saw was by Team iGeek from China: Educational Toolkit for Office. This one is especially useful for developers who need a better way to show their codes or discuss them during a meeting. It adds dynamic features familiar from development environments to PowerPoint including: syntax highlighting, code block expand/collapse, click-jump, and so much more.

    While the showcases were happening inside the museum, there were hands-on science experiments, concerts, and cool treats for everyone to enjoy. Blitz the Seahawk made an appearance, too. All in all, it was a wonderful day of learning and interactive fun. Thanks to the Microsoft Imagine Cup team, Avanade, and MOHAI for making the day possible.

    I invite you to check out all the 2014 winning teams’ projects on Imagine Cup’s website. Feeling inspired? What would you build? You could be at Imagine Cup 2015. Find out how here. Maybe I’ll be visiting your project showcase next year.


  • Sure, Microsoft is a global company. But there are certain events that really underscore how much of an impact our products have around the world. One of those events was the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships, which just concluded. I had the great privilege to attend the competition, held at Disney’s Grand California Hotel in Anaheim, CA., and meet some of the participants. The event was just a few yards from Disneyland, so mouse hats were in abundance.

    These championships are an impressive event. More than 400,000 young people ages 13-22 took part in the competition, with 137 rising to the top and attending the Anaheim event. They were experts at three Microsoft Office products: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, with six competition rounds held, three each for the 2007 and 2010 editions of those products. Our certification partner, Certiport, did a fantastic job of organizing and hosting the event.

    The six winners were just dazzling. Really the best of the best. Here the six who came out on top:

    • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 World Champion, Tyler Millis, United States.
    • Microsoft Excel 2007 World Champion, Ian Leitao Ferreira, Brazil
    • Microsoft Word 2007 World Champion, Dominique Howard, United States.
    • Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 World Champion, Arjit Kansal, India
    • Microsoft Excel 2010 World Champion, Kin Ian Lo, Macau
    • Microsoft Word 2010 World Champion, Ian Weng Chan, Macau

    The winners all received a $5,000 scholarship and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Here’s a release summarizing the winners and the event. 

    I thought it fitting that the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships were held near Disneyland. Walt Disney was a completely unknown 19-year-old when he gave himself the task of mastering animation. It didn’t happen overnight, but he did. And he and his studio would go on to create some of the most influential and memorable animated films of all time – Snow White, Bambi, Fantasia, to name just a few. The success that mastery led to eventually allowed Disney to build the amusement park that bears his name, and that opened 60 years ago.

    The participants in the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships have achieved a mastery of their own. It’ll be thrilling to see how they put that mastery to use in the years to come. Their love of learning and urgent desire to improve themselves was enormously inspiring, to say the least.

  • Do you have a MCSD or MCSE that's about to expire? Want to keep your certification current? Wondering how to recertify? You're not the only one with questions, but Briana and Liberty have answers. They share what's going on with recertification in the first installment of the ACE NewsByte. They answer your core questions about what is required to recertify and when recertification will be available!

    We're also introducing the ACE NewsByte (did you notice I said "first installment"?!). Wondering what this is? It is totally awesome, of course! NewsBytes are intended to be short videos highlighting the latest news, and provide tips and information about Microsoft certifications, our program, and exams that you may not know. We would love to use this format to answer your questions, too, so let us know what's on your mind!

  • Thanks for another great year at WPC 2014

    That’s a wrap! Four jam-packed days, some 14k attendees from all over the world, and two thunderous downpours filled our week in Washington DC – exactly what we needed to create the “perfect storm” (get it? get it?) of in-depth content of what the future holds for training and certification, fun interactive opportunities for networking, and the targeted conversations that must be had for closing business and building new relationships.

    Presentation Slides
    If you are a Learning Partner and didn’t get the chance to attend WPC in person this year – you can still review everything we said during our sessions with direct access to the slide presentations on Campaign Factory HERE.

    For reference, we hosted three (3) total sessions: an all-inclusive keynote presentation where we introduced our new sole Exam Delivery Provider Pearson VUE onto the stage with us (further details on that announcement can be found here); a second session outlining the futures of our learning products; and a third session offering program and marketing offers and options for partners to take advantage of.

    MPN Exam Pack Offer
    Are you in the MPN program and in need of updating your company’s competency? For a limited time, all Microsoft partners can purchase one of three exam voucher offers created exclusively for registered WPC 2014 attendees. Get the offer!

    BUY 10, GET 20 + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase ten (10) competency exams at full price and receive twenty (20) total competency exam vouchers with 2nd shot attached to each exam

    BUY 5, GET 8 + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase five (5) competency exams at full price and receive eight (8) total competency exam vouchers with 2nd shot attached to each exam

    BUY 1, GET 15% OFF + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase 1 competency exam at 15% off plus get one free Second Shot

    Purchase all exam vouchers online through August 31, 2014. Exam vouchers are valid for qualifying Microsoft competency exams listed HERE. All exams must be taken by December 31, 2014. Please allow 5 days to set-up an account with Prometric if not already a member. Qualified exams limited to the competency exam listed in link above.

    Pearson VUE Testing Center Offer
    If you are a registered WPC attendee, we’d like to remind you to take advantage of a special offer Pearson VUE introduced during the conference. Learning Partners interested in becoming a Pearson VUE® Authorized Test Center are eligible for a FREE Enhanced Security Protocol (ESP) kit!* Here are the steps to get started:

    Step 1: Complete and submit the application found here.

    Step 2: Once your application is received and approved, Pearson VUE will send you a contract to sign and return.

    Step 3: Be one of the first 200 Learning Partners to complete a contract by August 15, 2014, and you’ll receive a FREE ESP kit* (up to a $450 value).

    FREE ESP kit includes:

    • Digital signature pad
    • Software
    • Logitech HD webcams
    • Acrylic camera stand

    *Terms & Conditions

    Offer good only for Microsoft Learning Partners who were also attendees of Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Washington, DC, July 13-17, 2014. This is a global offer. Offer is for a free Enhanced Security Protocol (ESP) kit (containing two digital web cameras and a digital signature pad), plus shipping (up to a $450 USD value) to the first 200 partners who complete a contract** to become a Pearson VUE® Authorized Test Center by August 15, 2014. Offer is good for one free kit per partner. (Existing Pearson VUE Test Centers need not complete an application to delivery MCP exams on Sept. 4, 2014. Learning Partners who apply to open additional sites are only eligible for one free kit.)

    **Site must submit application and required documentation, be approved by Pearson VUE Quality Team and complete a fully executed contract by August 15, 2014. Offer not valid for test centers in Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, No. Korea, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

  • Have you ever wondered who is responsible for the quality of Microsoft’s exam content? Hint: Content development managers (or CDMs, because this wouldn’t be Microsoft if we didn’t have an acronym for this role!) with help from subject matter experts (SMEs). Super Sigma and Psychometrician interview Cari Mason, new to the ACE team and Microsoft, to learn more.


    In the last episode of our "Day in the Life of" and ACE Chronicles series, you will learn, along with Cari, about roles and responsibilities of CDMs on Microsoft’s exam development team, what they do every day, and how they work with SMEs to design the content domain and ensure that questions meet Microsoft’s item writing standards and measure the right skills. Because SMEs are so important to the ensuring the quality of the content, Cari has a special request for you…Stick around to the end of the video, and you’ll also learn how to become a SME yourself! You might find yourself working with Cari in the future! She’d love to meet you!

    Not only is this a great episode, but we have more great stuff planned for you. Stay tuned as we continue to reimagine how to keep you up to date on the latest breaking news and happenings in Microsoft Learning Experiences!

  • ​Microsoft Learning and Premier Field Engineering are off to a great start with the App Review To Cert Pilot Program launched on July 3rd, 2014.


    Over 60 MCPs have applied for the program to earn credit towards MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification through review and submission of a C# or HTML5-based Windows Store App.


    Space is still available, so review the program details here and sign up today at

  • You may have seen these advertisements: “Current IT Certifications could waive up to 25% of the credits toward your college degree.” I had ignored the ads in the past but thought it might be time to check them out.  If nothing else, I could see if the claim in the ad was real. If it turns out to be true, I could get accepted and finally complete my college degree. What do I have to lose, right?

    25 years ago…

    My first attempt at college was 25 years ago but at the time, it wasn’t my top priority. Instead, I earned my Microsoft Certifications and started an excellent career, even without a college degree. However, I had always promised myself that when the time was right, I would go back.

    Fast forward to 2014. After seeing the aforementioned advertisement, I collected my transcripts from Indiana State, Microsoft, and CompTIA to submit my application to return to college. A day or two later, I received a call from an admissions counselor who walked me through the entire enrollment process. In order for me to apply to the college, my first task was to take a readiness assessment. While the exam part was fairly easy, I wasn’t expecting to have to write an essay so I just wrote something about baseball and figured that was that.

    John Dearduff

    If not now, when?

    Well, about a week later, I received three emails from the college I applied to. The first email let me know that I had successfully passed my assessment test and essay. The second email was a transcript evaluation stating how many credits my certification exams would cover. The last email was an announcement of my acceptance into the university!

    At first, I was excited about returning to college but then it occurred to me: I am way too busy with my job to go back to college. How would I ever make this work? But then I thought to myself, “If I don’t do it now, then when would I ever finish earning my college degree?” So on April 1, 2014, I officially went back to school.

    Technical Certifications = Credits towards my college degree

    Now, I know you’re curious about my transcript evaluation, but before I get into it, keep in mind only current certifications earned in the last five years counted towards college credit. With that out of the way, here’s how my certifications translated to college credits.

    Of the 121 credits required for me to graduate, my Microsoft Certifications earned me 25, my CompTIA certifications earned me 18, and my college credits from Indiana State carried over for another 11. This left me with only needing 67 more credits to graduate. As of July 1, 2014, I’m happy to say I’ve completed five courses for an additional 12 credits, which leaves me with just 55 more credits to go.

    So can technical certifications help you earn a college degree? Individual situations vary, but in my case, they’ve certainly helped, and now I am that much closer to fulfilling the promise I made 25 years ago. I’ll be sharing more about my progress here on Born to Learn.

    How about you? Are you also considering going back to college?

    Read my other posts on Born to Learn

    Follow me on Twitter

  • |

    On July 20, 1969, I was among the millions of people glued to television sets worldwide and watching grainy black-and-white video as astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped from his lunar lander to the surface of the moon. “One small step for man,” Armstrong said. “One giant leap for mankind.”

    What an iconic moment. But one that followed by some nine years a moment perhaps even more iconic. It was May 25, 1961, when then-President John F. Kennedy set the audacious goal of sending a man to the moon before the decade ended. No one knew how to do that. No one knew if we could do that. But Kennedy set the goal, and the nation rallied behind him.

    Here at Microsoft, we’re accustomed to making bold goals. Thirty years ago the goal was a PC on every desk. We not only achieved that, we exceeded it – today computing is a ubiquitous part of daily life. Now we’re setting another big goal: Creating experiences that combine the magic of software, with the power of internet services, across a world of devices.

    Our job in the Learning Experiences Team is to support that vision. We can achieve that by providing education and training that speed technology adoption and unlock the power of Microsoft products. We want people to become proficient at using our software. And we want to give them great choices when it comes to how they become proficient.

    We have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our vision. We expect to see 6 million new IT job openings in the next six years. Six million. It’s going to be an enormous challenge to place people in those jobs, given the current difficulty in filling IT positions. Even within the Microsoft Partner Network there currently are 500,000 open IT positions. We need to meet the challenge of providing training that helps employers fill these open spots.

    We also need to work harder to steer women into IT roles. Today not quite one in four IT workers are women – a figure that is dropping. Given the demand for IT employees, it’s a shame that a full half of all possible working-age adults that could choose an IT career don’t

    These trends are forcing those of us in IT training to re-think our approach. Does everyone in IT need a four-year degree? Are there ways for people to start an IT career without spending a great deal of time in formal classes? It’s time to develop alternate training models.

    Beyond the obvious need for training, we’re aiming to build what we call an “enthusiastic ecosystem.” Of course, we’re always enthusiastic about technology. But we want to go beyond that and engage people with great content and services. We want to listen to our audience and act on their feedback. And we want to innovative in our approach to learning. If we can create IT professionals who are proficient and enthusiastic, that will help us increase adoption of Microsoft products. In turn, we’ll then see great new applications for our products.

    It’s an exciting time to be in IT training. We’re seeing things such as the dramatic impact of the cloud, which is driving training from in-person/instructor-focused to anywhere/anytime virtual training. We know things are changing and we intend to lead the way along with our partners.

    It will be a bold mission. Maybe not putting a man on the moon, but for us something just as big. We’ll have to figure things out as we go, take some chances, and be ambitious. We hope you’ll join us as we chart a new path for IT Training through modern learning experiences in this exciting new era for Microsoft.

  • We’re here in hot and sunny Washington D.C., ready to kick off the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Booth is all set up, session rehearsals are underway, meetings (oh the sheer volume of meetings) are scheduled, and all we have left is to meet with our partners!

    So if you’re here in DC with us – let’s get a few items on your calendar so you don’t miss a thing:

    Day one – Monday, July 14

    • LeX Keynote: Driving Learning Innovation with Partners  (LS-275) | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | 146C

    • Learning Partner Reception | 8:00pm – 11:00pm | Daughters of the American Revolution

    Day two – Tuesday, July 15

    • LeX Session:  Driving Learning Innovation with Our Products  (LS-276) | 1:00pm – 2:00pm | 146C

    • LeX Session:  Making Learning Innovation Real and Profitable  (LS-277) | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | 146C

    In addition to our important sessions, we also have a booth located in the MPN Pavilion which we’ve morphed into what we now call the Learning Partner Lounge – a great space, perfect for our Learning Partners to relax a bit in between meetings. Our sponsors will also call this lounge home base throughout the week, ready to answer your questions about their offers and new abilities. Open long hours Monday through Wednesday (around 10am – 5pm) plenty of time to get your networking fix.

    That does it, our WPC activities in a nutshell. We hope to see you all here, but if you can’t make it, follow me here on the blog. I’ll update the blog with pictures each day to show you what we’re up to. It’ll be like you were there the whole time!



  • Are you planning on taking Exchange Server 2013 in the near future? Then I have an update to share that may affect how you prepare for it.

    Exchange Server 2013 exams – specifically 341 and 342 – have now been updated for Service Pack 1. Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 introduced several new features and is compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2.

    Although Microsoft Learning Experience takes a few different approaches to exam updates related to service pack releases, in this case we had Exchange SMEs view all of the questions on both exams and update them to remove any possible ambiguity in those questions. When a question is specifically referring to SP1 functionality, it is called out in the question, making it easy for candidates to know when service packs matter in terms of answering the question.  

    The first service pack of any product is a very important milestone that usually triggers many large organizations to start planning and deploying that version of the product. So if you use Exchange Server in your role, now’s the time to get certified, stay ahead of the game, and show your organization that you’re committed to keeping up with the latest changes in technology. On that note, go register for your exam today!

    Related resources:


  • First things first. I’m sorry I have been a bit off of the map but I’ve been following the wise words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

    It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks. To give you an idea, I will give you some of my stats because, c’mon, everyone loves a good stat. Smile

    • Number of meetings: 40

    • Number of hours of flying: 28

    • Number of countries traveled: 3

    • Number of exams in queue: 1

    • Number of currents Projects: 4

    Anyway, the past two weeks I’ve been busy working on several projects and you will hear more details sooner than later in regards to them. But one of the things which is top of mind for me as a Project Manager is how I can work faster and more efficiently. One current project I’m looking to improve is the redesigning of the RFP process which I talked to you about before.

    A RFP is a document where we describe a project requirements, expectations, and deliverables. This is one of the first steps we do when we have assigned a new exam to ship, and the RFP outlines the contract that we will later sign with our content developer vendor. I went through the process of creating RFP two times and I always felt that we had some room for improvement. Since I’m one of the newbies and I tend to be a bit passionate about not wasting time, I got it assigned to me. Smile

    Usually, when I want to drive an efficiency, I think about 2 things: first, how long it takes and second, the cost of doing in it. Once I have that information in my pocket, I kind of challenge myself to make those numbers better. In this case, it was a no brainer; before, we were doing things a bit old school and using email to collaborate on the RFP (I know! I know! Bear with us) so to improve the RFP process, we will be moving towards using Visual Studio (TFS) to collaborate, which is what we use for exam development, too. Now, the challenge is how do I reduce the reviewing iterations (when creating the RFPs)? Do I have an initial and I closing discussion meeting? Do I leave just some working days for people to discuss offline? Anyway, these questions are yet to be answered so I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any ideas.

    Lastly, you know that I believe an image speaks greater than all my words so I want to leave you with some of the pics that I captured lately:

    My daughter in Prague watching someone doing her fav thing… bubbles J

    Beautiful Prague moment

    Anyway, talk to you soon. Ahhh… one last thing. Don’t forget my friends: CARPE DIEM!