Born to Learn

  • In my previous blog post, I mentioned that I had earned college credits from my Microsoft Certifications. I also mentioned that I had already finished my first five college classes and that I was eager to get started on the next ones. Well, that was three months ago… And I am once again eager to get started on my next few classes!

    The story is a pretty familiar one. I was ahead of pace, so I thought I would take a weekend off. Or maybe two. Next thing I knew, a month had gone by and I had not studied. I kept thinking that this would be the weekend I would start hitting the books again.

    Then, my boss asked me how I was doing on my Exchange 2013 MCSE certification. Now, I will be quite honest with you. I had completely forgotten that the certification was even on my list of work goals for this year. I had already passed the Windows Server 2012 MCSA exams, which are a prerequisite to this certification, so August turned into Exchange 2013 month for me.

    Now, you would think that passing two exams would be pretty easy to accomplish, especially for someone who has been certified in Exchange since 2000. Well, I had assumed that Exchange 2013 could not be that much different than Exchange 2010. Needless to say, I did not do so well on that exam. However, after some studying and reading up on the new Transport Architecture, I did eventually pass. And, in September, while at the MCT Summit, I passed the second exam to earn the MCSE: Messaging.

    So, that brings us back to my college courses. My new term started this month. And, once again, I am eager to get started on my next few classes—the first two of which are on web technologies (specifically HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript). These also happen to be the requirements for the MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using HTML5 certification. Maybe during the next six months I can kill two birds with one stone—pass a few college courses and earn an MCSD.

    So, what goals do you have for yourself over the next six months? Is your goal finishing up a certification that you have been putting off? Maybe you are just starting a certification and haven’t taken that first test yet. Maybe you are trying something new and different. Regardless, just remember that the longer you put it off, the more those weekends pile up. And the next thing you know, it will be summertime again. So how about if you join me and commit to getting started right away?

  • Whether you're an IT Pro or Developer, you know DevOps has been a hot topic. During the week of TechEd Europe 2014, Microsoft has planned a series of onsite activities for attendees around this topic. Those who won't be in Barcelona are also invited to join the discussions and ask questions via Twitter with the hashtag #TalkDevOps.

    If you're interested in learning and discussing Microsoft's DevOps POV, there will be over 20 technical breakout sessions and hands-on labs. Check the content catalog and filter for DevOps under the product field. In addition, below is a list of #TalkDevOps related happenings in Barcelona (all times local):

    Monday October 27 @ 9am-5pm:  DevOps Foundational Deep-dive Pre-Conference

    Kck-off the week with a joint Dev and IT Pro DevOps pre-conference seminar targeting 100 attendees to understand the role DevOps plays within an organization to meet today’s demands and innovate in new and faster ways. We will evaluate how people, processes, and technologies fit into this transformation and spend a significant portion of the day showcasing live demonstrations of Microsoft technologies and highlighting interoperability with non-Microsoft technologies to help customers attain these benefits. Kurt Bittner, Principal Analyst with Forrester Research, joins other Microsoft DevOps experts to share his observations and insights about this transformation.

    Tuesday October 28 @ 5:15-5:45pm: DevOps Expert Q&A @Ch9 LIVE

    In the afternoon of the first day of TEE, attend a live DevOps Expert Q&A with MS DevOps SMEs, David Tesar and Claude Remillard, and Forrester Principal Analyst, Kurt Bittner. They will be answering questions and top-of-mind topics gathered online through social vehicles via the hashtag #TalkDevOps. This segment will be streamed online via Channel 9, live from the show floor of #TEE14!

    Thursday October 30 @ 2:30-3:30pm: DevOps Meetup @ the Community Booth

    Join a formal DevOps Meetup at the Community Booth to network and learn from your peers and industry experts.  Members of the Barcelona DevOps Meetup Group will come to TechEd for a day of DevOps sessions and to attend the meetup.  

     Note: Attendees of TechEd Europe 2014 receive discount Microsoft certification exams. See this page on TEE website for full details.

  • Briana and I just learned about a new MVA series that we think is totally awesome! Microsoft is hosting a series of MVA courses on game development that will introduce people to a wide variety of game development platforms and provide insight into how to get your game into the Windows Store. There is something for everyone... from those of you like me who are new to the developer world in general and/or to the game development world specifically to more experienced game developers who want to dig into the hard core aspects of designing and developing games. 

    Want to be the cool cat (or dog Smile) on the block and have a game in the Windows Store? Well, this series can put you one step closer. Every Thursday through March (and possibly longer), you can join a live broadcast on one of the many game development platforms that we will be featuring in this series. The platforms range from those where no programming experience is required (e.g., Construct2, Gamemaker, or Marmalade) to those for more advanced developers (e.g., Unity, Cocos2d, HTML, C++, or DirectX). Can't join on Thursday mornings or missed one that you wanted to see? No worries! The videos will be available through MVA shortly after the session.

    Want to learn more about the series, the speakers, and platforms that will be included? Watch this ACE NewsByte!

    I cannot tell you how excited I am about this...I am seriously fascinated by developer world; the logic, creativity, and problem solving needed to write "elegant" code appeals to my mathematical mind. My husband is a developer, and he often says that I would make a great developer. Maybe, he's onto something... As part of Hour of Code initiative, I was sucked into learning basic coding through touchdevelop and was instantly hooked! I plan to attend one of the entry level courses. I hope to "see" you there!

  • Update at 3:00pm PDT on October 17, 2014


    Lead your organization’s adoption of cloud technologies. Be among the first to get certified in Microsoft Azure or Microsoft Office 365. For a limited time, Microsoft is offering four (4) exams at no cost.

    To earn Microsoft Certified Specialist in Azure, pass one or both of these exams:

    • 71-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (beta)

    • 70-533: Implementing Azure Infrastructure Solutions

    To earn Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in Office 365, pass both of these exams:

    • 70-346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements

    • 70-347: Enabling Office 365 Services

    Achieve these credentials in three easy steps:

    1. Visit to request an exam voucher

    2. Schedule and take your exam by December, 31, 2014.

    3. Pass the exam and earn your new certification!

    Take advantage of this great offer today while supplies last! Questions? Please see the complete terms and conditions below. Good luck on your exams!



    Terms and Conditions for Microsoft Certification Exam Vouchers:

    • Offer good until December 31, 2014 for up to a total of 10,000 vouchers distributed worldwide.

    • Limit five (5) exam vouchers per person.
    • Eligible exams: A voucher may be redeemed to take one of the following MCP exams: 70-532 (beta), 70-533, 70-346 or 70-347. This offer does not include Microsoft Technology Associate exams.

    • Offer ends on December 31, 2014 or while supplies last. Individuals must register for and take all exams prior to December 31, 2014.

    • Vouchers may not be used for any other offering than the specified offer.

    • Microsoft, Prometric and APTCs are not responsible for lost or stolen vouchers or voucher numbers.

    • Vouchers may not be redeemed for cash, credit or refunds.

    • Expired, stolen or lost vouchers will not be replaced.

    • Vouchers may not be applied to exams that have already been taken.

    • Vouchers are nontransferable and are void if altered or revised in any way. 

    • Any resale or distribution of vouchers is expressly prohibited.

    • Taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the recipient.

    • There is a rescheduling fee for individuals who reschedule or cancel their appointment to take an exam 15 or fewer days before the scheduled date.

    • Individuals that cancel or reschedule their appointment to take an exam seventy-two hours or less from the scheduled time will forfeit their exam voucher (voucher cannot be used again).

    • Individuals that fail to show up for their scheduled exam appointment will forfeit their exam voucher (voucher cannot be used again).

    • Voucher expiration dates cannot be extended under any circumstances.

    • To register for an exam, visit the Prometric website  You must provide the Voucher code provided by Prometric when registering to take an exam.

    • Exam 70-532 is a beta exam and all beta policies apply.

    • Due to government gift and ethics laws, government employees (including military and employees of public education institutions) are not eligible to participate.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q:  How many vouchers may I request?

    A:  You may request up to five (5) vouchers. Only one voucher may be requested at a time.

    Q:  How many vouchers are available?

    A:  10,000 total vouchers will be available for this offer worldwide.

    Q:  Where can these vouchers be redeemed?

    A:  Vouchers can be redeemed at for you to schedule your exam.

    Q:  Can I request a voucher after December 31, 2014?

    A:  No. All vouchers much be requested prior to December 31, 2014.

    Q:  Can I schedule to take an exam appointment after December 31, 2014?

    A:  No. All exams must be scheduled and taken prior to December 31, 2014.

    Q:  How many exams can I take with one voucher?

    A:  One voucher is required for each exam.

    Q:  Do the vouchers work for any MCP exam?

    A:  No. Vouchers are good only for Azure Exams 70-532 (Beta) & 70-533; and Office 365 Exams 70-346 & 70-347

    Q:  Can I use this voucher to take an exam at Pearson Vue?

    A:  No, these vouchers may only be redeemed at a Prometric testing center.

    Q:  Can I use the Online Proctoring option to take an exam?

    A:  No, these vouchers are only valid for exams taken at a Prometric testing center.

    Q:  Are there limitations to any of the exams?

    A:  Exam 70-532 is a beta exam and certain restrictions and limitations apply. For instance, you will not receive a score report immediately, and there are restrictions to which country you may test in. Please see the Preparing to take a beta exam page for more information.

    Q:  Can I give away or sell the voucher?

    A:  No, the vouchers are only for your personal use. 

  • |

    Recently, you may have noticed a few different videos we’ve been posting to our social media. If you haven’t seen then, check them out below. I promise, they’re pretty quick (and IMO a lot of fun):

    What do you think of our new videos? Leave your comments below. We’d love to know what you think.

    Today, I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we made these videos.

    Stylistically, you’ll notice the videos are very unique. That’s because, not only are they shot using stop motion photography, but the actors are actually lying on the ground. The camera used to shoot them is about 25 feet up in the air. 

    Here are a few photos I shot while in-the studio! Hope you enjoy them. 

    ABOVE: Our actors getting ready to go in the makeup room.

    ABOVE: During the shoot, the actors lied down on the set with the director giving specific directions as to how to move.

    ABOVE: After the director liked the position, he would snap a photo using the above-mounted camera and then he would have the actors move again, ever so slightly

    ABOVE: This is the view from the camera hung high above our set.

    ABOVE: Our director, Kevin, looking on. He did a phenomenal job!

    ABOVE: Another group of people who did a great job were the set designers. The attention to detail was amazing!

    ABOVE: This was our last scene but also one of the most fun.

     Thanks to everyone who made this video shoot a success! I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look out and I look forward to bringing you more glimpses into what we’re working on in the future!

  • Did you hear the news that you now have more options for earning your MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and your MCSA: SQL Server 2012? In both cases, two predefined exams are required, but you now have choice to take one of four exams to meet the third requirement for earning either of these certifications, moving us one step closer to truly flexible certifications (could a "build your own certification" idea be far behind? Hmmmm... let me noodle on the psychometric implications of that--I love a good challenge!). Giving you an option on how to fulfill the third requirement ensures that your certification is measuring skills and abilities relevant to your career path and/or the work that your currently doing in your organization.

    Oh, and once you earn your certification, don't forget to get your Certified MCP shirts for Xbox Avatars in the Xbox Store! So cool!

    Want to learn more? Check out this ACE NewsByte as Briana and I explain the details of the new elective process for each of these certifications.

  • |

     When I was growing up, my mom often told me, “Anything worth doing won’t come easy.”

    Of course, as a kid, I didn’t exactly appreciate this lesson from her, but now that I’m an adult (at least according to my ID), I understand what she was talking about. To me, the statement is absolutely true. Things that you can truly be proud of aren’t easy: they take time, dedication, and sometimes a little perspiration.

    For that reason, while I was recently looking through our MCP Success Stories, this short submission really stood out. It’s from an MCP named Janaka R., and in it, he says:

    When I started my career the goal was simple and it was to land a good job. Now I work as a Technical Consultant for Redynamics Asia APAC where I'm more focused on System Center, Microsoft Azure & Office 365. It was Microsoft certification that helped me to step into the next level. I hold over 12 Microsoft certifications and I'm also an MCT. I've played with Office 365 from day one and [am] involved in several projects as well. To become a specialist I started working towards Office 365 certification. The exams were tough and it took a lot of studying and long sleepless nights. But finally I've made it. MCSA Office 365 is the latest addition to my certifications list.

    What really struck me about Janaka’s story is that he did not shy away from the challenge. He realizesthe exams are tough, and it took a lot of studying to earn his certifications—but, once he earned them, he was able to take his career to the next level.

    Like my mom said, things worth doing won’t come easy—and that is the case with earning Microsoft Certification. The certifications from Microsoftare meant to truly validate your knowledge and understanding of a product, which, in turn, goes to show hiring managers and clients that you can get the job done well.

    Are Microsoft certification exams easy? Not at all. That is precisely why they make a difference on your resume and for your career

    Keep on keepin’ on. Your time and effort will be worth it.

    Would you like to see other MCP Success Stories, or would you like your own story highlighted? Check out our MCP story wall, and share your story with the greater community!

  • Ready to certify? If you are a registered attendee of PASS Summit 2014, you will be eligible for an amazing deal – all Microsoft certification exams will be offered at 50% off the regular price. If you are registered to attend PASS Summit, you will have the opportunity to take exams onsite at Certification Central, throughout the week of the event. This reduced rate will only be available to registered PASS Summit 2014 attendees.

    Exam Registration

    Registering for an MCP exam with our newest exam delivery provider, Pearson VUE, is easy – just follow these quick steps:

    1. Go to
    2. Click on Register for an Exam, and select the exam you wish to take
    3. Click on Schedule with Pearson VUE, then confirm your registration information (or register if you are new to the process) and click Submit
    4. On the Select Booking Method page, toggle “I will be scheduling for a future date at a test center” and then click Next
    5. Once you’ve selected your exam language, testing center (Microsoft Event Test Center), hit Next then select the date and time you would like to take the exam then Next, you will Proceed to Checkout and agree to Microsoft Policies
    6. Once you arrive on the Enter Payment page, click on Voucher or Promo Code, then enter sqlpass and click Apply

  • Along with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Learning Experiences’ General Manager Alison Cunard, it was my privilege to visit India late last month as part of our Women in IT initiative. We’re making a big push to show women in India how technology can transform their lives and build a better future for themselves and their country. Part of that initiative involves a new partnership with NIIT, a global training provider. We’ll be working with NIIT to offer Microsoft certification and training at NIIT’s 500 Indian training centers – training we hope will prepare Indian women for tomorrow’s IT jobs.

    On September 30, I spoke to hundreds of people at the Infosys campus in Mysore. My theme was “technology empowerment.” That is something I feel very strongly about. I’ve been in the IT industry for more than 20 years, starting at Siebel and Digital before joining Microsoft in 2003 and working now with Learning Experiences. It’s been a great ride, and I love to be an evangelist for careers in IT.

    This is especially true now, and it’s a message I did my best to convey while in India. The world is changing, as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, personal, and ubiquitous. Smartphones and tablets are putting amazing power into the pockets of more than a billion people world-wide, all connected within the cloud. One result of this is an explosion in demand for people skilled in IT, with 77 percent of all jobs expected to require technical skills in the coming years.

    In this IT-driven world, however, women remain minor participants. In the U.S., they earn 57 percent of all college degrees, but only 18 percent of undergraduate computing and information sciences degrees. They out-perform men in science, math, and technology, yet are twice as likely as men to leave a career in computing. The numbers aren’t any better in India, where women comprise only about 12 percent of the student body at elite universities, with about half of them in technology programs.[1]

    During my visit to India I encouraged women and girls to close that skills gap. I wanted them to see the potential of an IT career; to help them find access to the training they need to succeed; get them excited about Microsoft technology; and understand that they have the ability to change their country – and the world.

    I see real opportunities in India for much of what Learning Experiences has to offer. Take the Microsoft Virtual Academy. It’s a great way to move learning outside the classroom, so that people in India or anywhere else can learn what they want, when they want. We’re constantly adding new content and courses to the Academy, and have designed it to foster the skills needed for the 21stcentury.

    Bringing women into technology is a conversation everyone at Microsoft should be a part of. It’s great to see that conversation start at the top – on October 10, for instance, Satya Nadella will speak at the annual Grace Hopper Conference, where he’ll seek to inspire talented female engineers to pursue careers in technology. I’m pleased to have had the chance to do my part on this subject while in India, and will continue to work to attract women to the great career that technology can offer.

    [1] “Delegation to India Promotes Women and Girls in Technology,” DIP Note, the U.S. Department of State Official Blog, May 30, 2013.

  • Recertification exams corresponding to MCSEs for Server Infrastructure, Private Cloud, and Desktop Infrastructure are now available.  Details about the exams and registration information can be found on the web pages referenced below.  Please note that recertification exams cover material from the exams taken originally to earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent product and process changes.

    MCSE Server Infrastructure, Private Cloud, and Desktop Infrastructure exams:

  • SQL Server Recertification Exams Released

    The second wave of recertification exams, corresponding to SQL Server-focused MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications, 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 Now Offered Through Online-Proctored Exams (US Only) 

    To make recertification as frictionless as possible, Microsoft Learning is now offering all Developer and SQL Server Recertification Exams through our new online-proctored delivery option.  Online proctored exams allow you to take an exam in the comfort of your home or office, while being monitored by an offsite proctor.  At this time, online proctored exams are only available to customers in the United States - additional geographies will be added in the months to come. 

    For more details and to register for these exams, please visit:

  • In a word: yes.

    I recently recorded Introduction to Programming with Python with Susan Ibach. During the session, toasters became a bit of a running gag, so there was a picture of me on set holding a toaster. When I posed the picture to Facebook a friend of mine asked me the question that inspired the title of this post: “Open Source? Microsoft? Did I miss something?”

    Christopher Harrison in the studioYou don’t have to look any further than at ASP.NET to see that things have changed. ASP.NET is being developed with both internal developers and in collaboration with a community of open source developers. You can access the source code and contribute at GitHub. And when you glance at the page you’ll notice it even includes instructions on how to use OS X and Linux if you don’t want to use Windows.

    Visual Studio now has editors for many open source technologies. If you’re a PHP developer, there are tools for you. Using node.js? There are tools available. Python? We’ve got you covered. And you’ll even notice the last two projects are hosted on CodePlex and are open source.

    And the product that’s nearest and dearest to my heart, Microsoft Virtual Academy, is also joining the open source fun. Recently we had a handful of luminaries come through the studio to be interviewed about Microsoft and open source. While I think the entire video is worth watching, I’d suggest watching modules 4 and 5. Module 5 is an interview with Scott Hunter who talks about how ASP.NET found itself being open sourced. And module 4 is an interview with Cliff Allen, a senior attorney at Microsoft who focuses on open source support for many teams within Microsoft.

    Then, as mentioned above, there’s the course Susan and I created on Python, which now available on demand.

    On October 15, we’ll be live streaming a course titled Building Apps with node.js, hosted by Stacey Mulcahy and Rami Sayar (available on demand about two weeks later).

    And in December we have Stacey scheduled to return to the studio with Jamie Kosoy to do a full day on PHP.

    Oh, and all of those technologies are fully supported on Azure.

    It’s a different world.

    So if you’re wondering if you’ve missed something, the answer is a resounding “yes”. I hope you can join us for the ride. It’s going to be a blast!

  • And just like that, September is over–but what a month it was!

    Here on the Microsoft Learning Team, things were very busy in September. During the month, we announced a new partnership, shared discounts with you, and even had new certifications to tell you about. With so much going on, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. So today, I’d like to take a look back and recap the month—all in one simple-to-read blog post. Check it out!


    New partnership with Pearson VUE

    One of the most exciting things in September was the announcement of our new partnership with Pearson VUE. This is a huge deal because it means that, as an exam candidate, you have more options for where to test. Additionally, this new partnership makes it easier for you to schedule your next Microsoft exam.


    Take your next exam at home: Introducing online proctored exams

    In September, we were also excited to announce online proctored exams. This means that you can now take dozens of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams online—from wherever you are—at home, at the office, or even on the road in a hotel room. 

    Want to learn more about what to expect the first time you take an online proctored exam? Our ACE Team shares all the details in this video:

    Note: If you’d like to know about security for online proctored exams, read these insights shared by our Anti-Piracy Program Manager Kerri Davis.


    Limited time offer: 15% off MCP exams

    Another September highlight? For those of you who want to pass a few more Microsoft exams by the end of the year, we shared a new promo code which allows you to save 15% on MCP exams at both Pearson VUE and Prometric. Check out Louise Ping’s blog post, where she shares the details and the promo code. Get the promo code while you can though—this offer is only good through December 31, 2014.


    Exam updates and information


    Other September updates on Born To Learn

    Other noteworthy happenings in September include:


    That’s it for our September recap! I hope you all are as excited about everything that happened last month as we are and, of course, we can’t wait to provide you with more updates in October. 

    Do you have any questions about any of the information on this page? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to get answers.

  • UPDATE: The survey will be closing on 24-Oct, so don't forget to participate, if you haven't already done so.

    How does your salary compare to national averages? Which skills are in demand? Do training and certifications impact salary? Global Knowledge and Microsoft are conducting one of the industry's most extensive surveys of IT and business professionals. Last year's survey had more than 16,000 participants. Be part of the research to see how much IT and business pros earn, which training and certifications matter most, and other critical issues facing workers today.

    The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of our IT Skills and Salary Report when it’s published in March.  Start the survey.

  • Kenji Onozawa is a 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.


    You can learn almost anything on the Internet.

    Okay, I admit that this is not the most ground-breaking sentence. But it’s still pretty amazing that, in seconds, you can learn how to do almost anything just by typing it on a keyboard and pressing Enter.

    In the last year, I’ve learned a variety of different things that way—from how to fix a leaking toilet to how to replace burned-out headlight. It’s great, because it saves me time and I love the satisfaction of learning something new.

    Equally amazing is that, as a technical professional, on Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA), you can learn just about anything you want or need to help you advance your skills and career. Hop on over there, and check it out! It’s full of free, live and on-demand training taught by industry experts who have lots of practical experience.

    So, who’s behind all of this great MVA content? Matt Calder! And, in this week’s edition of Inside MSL, I sit down to talk with him. During the five-minute session, we discuss:

    • His role and responsibilities at Microsoft Virtual Academy.
    • How MVA decides what content to put on the site.
    • Why Matt enjoys his role and loves feedback from the community.
    • His #1 tip for someone trying to get a job at Microsoft.

    Thanks to Matt for letting me bug him with my camera. Besides helping to moderate the community during live MVA events, you can also find him on the Microsoft Virtual Academy blog.

    That’s it for this week’s Inside MSL blog post. Be on the lookout in the near future for more new faces and Microsoft Learning team members, right here on Born To Learn!

    Do you have a question for our team? Leave it in the comments section, and we might use it in the next “Inside MSL” interview! 

  • Back in August, MCSA: Office 365 became an additional path onto three MCSE titles: Communications (Lync), Messaging (Exchange), and SharePoint. (Read Holly Dickson's announcement here.) For those who focus on on-prem deployment, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is still the path of choice, but for those who are considering or deploying cloud-based solutions, MCSA: Office 365 may be more applicable.

    Since the announcement, many of our community members requested to have MCSA: Office 365 added to our online study groups here on Born to Learn. Today, I'm happy to announce that the study group is open, and we're honored to have four very experience Microsoft Certified Trainers leading the way. They will be in the exam-specific forums to provide guidance and help answer your questions about exam prep. You're welcome to participate by contributing to the exam prep resource wikis and helping your peers along the way to achieving certification. (You must be a registered member on Born to Learn to post or comment. Use the email address associated with your MC ID if you're an MCP.)

    To find the MCSA: Office 365 study group, go to and scroll down a bit. It's conveniently located just below MCSA: Windows Server 2012, and before the MCSE titles.

    Thank you to MCTs Ed Baker, Enrique Lima, Nate Stammer, and Ignacio Parlade for volunteering their time, knowledge, and expertise in this study group. You can also connect with Ed, Enrique, Nate and Ignacio on Twitter. 

    Bonus: Among the three of them, you can get advice and answers in English, Portuguese, and Spanish!

  • We are pleased to announce that the new interface for certifications is now in market on all VUE-administered exams.  The embedded slides show the evolution of the UI from 2012 to the present, with a focus on the Welcome screen, Case Study item type, and the review screens. 

    The 2013 design represents a transitional year for implementing a modern design.  The 2014, or current, design represents the culmination of the transition; however, we will continue to listen to your ideas and suggestions as well as implement new innovations to make the exam experience adaptable, flexible, and easy for you. 

    I hope the new design demonstrates our commitment taking into consideration features you asked for.  For example, major new features, many of which came from you, include:

    • Marking items for comment (similar to marking for review)
    • Ability to filter on item status (answered, unanswered, for comment, for review)
    • Both a table and tile option for the review screen
    • Table review screen shows snippets of questions to help jog memory
    • Ability to jump around questions within a section using the review screen button on each item
    • Touch-screen and multi-platform design
    • Larger timer
    • Exhibit tab vs. button
    • Less clutter and distraction

    Thank you for your feedback in helping to create more intuitive and streamlined exam experiences—experiences I hope you will feel good about. 

  • No.

    This week, we launched our new Online Proctoring process in the U.S. I understand there are many questions about how security and an online proctoring program will work. The biggest concern someone has about taking a test at home is how we are going to prevent cheating.

    You’re not alone if you’re asking the same thing. When I attended the Association of Test Publishers Innovations in Testing conference last March, this was one of the biggest topics amongst the security circuit. In all of the online proctoring demos I saw, these questions came up over and over. I paid close attention.

    Everyone at Microsoft Learning takes security seriously, and we make every effort to ensure that our certified professionals have rightly earned their title. Our foray into Online Proctoring has not diminished those efforts. Online Proctoring does introduce some unique security considerations, however. I will outline just a few for you below.

    On technology and security:

    • The system uses a secure browser that shuts down everything on your computer except the exam delivery system. If anyone tries to open another program, or keep a program running in the background, the test is shut down.
    • There is no ability to print, copy, paste, switch tasks, access other applications, or take a screen shot.
    • Function keys and keyboard shortcuts are disabled.
    • All data in transit is encrypted.

    On environment: Every effort has been made to make an online proctoring experience as secure as that of a test center. You will be asked to sweep your webcam around the room and the greeter will check for security concerns, such as notes on the wall or mirrors behind you. This also means some concessions have to be made by you, the test-taker. For instance:

    • You must find a clean, quiet, secure environment free of distractions and noise.
    • No one else can be in the room with you. That includes children, pets, and your friendly neighbor, even if they are bringing you a fresh-baked pie.
    • You must clear books, papers, notes, pens, and other stuff off your immediate area.
    • Just as in a test center, you’ll be asked to empty your pockets, remove your watch, uncover your ears, and unzip your jacket.
    • You may not use dual monitors.

    Some extra rules that we had to apply to an online proctoring experience:

    • You cannot take notes or have any scratch paper.
    • You cannot eat, drink, or chew gum.
    • You cannot take a break for any reason. Leaving the area will shut down your exam.
    • You will have to show your ID to a webcam.
    • You will be recorded during the entire exam experience. Please remember to wear pants.

    The experience may be odd to you at first, especially if you grew up in an era where testing was done on paper in a classroom. You’ll have to get used to talking to a proctor/greeter via webcam; you may be asked to do strange things like show them your ears; you may have to remove that vase of flowers that has been sitting on your kitchen table forever. But these things must be done in order to ensure that the experience is as secure for you at home as for those taking a test in a traditional test center. I will be closely monitoring all incidents and issues to make sure that we are maintaining a good experience.

    Microsoft takes seriously the importance of protecting the investment Microsoft Certified Professionals make in achieving a professional certification. For that reason, Microsoft has a team of people focused on preventing and addressing exam fraud, piracy and any other illegal exam and certification activities. All violations of the rules for the certification program are reviewed and addressed through this team. Be sure to let me know if there is anything about the Online Proctoring exam experience that raises security concerns for you.


    Got a tip for me? Let me know at

  • Microsoft Learning recently announced that candidates can take certain exams from almost anywhere through VUE's online proctoring option. We are one of the first large certification programs to offer candidates the option to take exams online (from almost anywhere, including your home or office) rather than at a test center. And, we want you to help us make this part of the certification landscape...shouldn't you have the flexibility to take an exam when you want from where you want? Shouldn't this be part of the DNA of certification testing? Yes, it should!

    To do this, we need you to take one (or more) online proctored exam and share your feedback. Because the online proctored scenario must mimic the test center experience, there are certain things you need to do to prepare for the exam, which ensures the security of the exam content and the integrity of the process. Rather than list the requirements in a blog post (how boring!), I think it will be more fun to watch Briana and me provide some of the ins and outs on how online proctoring works, what to expect, and other tips to ensure that you have the best exam delivery experience possible in an ACE NewsByte. So, check it out!

    Because this is groundbreaking not only for Microsoft but for the certification industry and for YOU, we are launching this very much like a beta exam, and we are learning along the way--as you can see from the video, even in the time we filmed this (just a week ago!), a few tidbits have changed, like the days and times when the exams will be available. For the most up to date information about online proctoring, requirements, etc., be sure to review the information here before you launch your first exam; as we roll out online proctoring for more exams, languages, and countries, we will update the information on that page, so check it often.

    We really want your feedback on how we can make the experience better. Watch the video, take an online proctored exam from the comfort of your own home or office, and most important, let us know what you think!!

  • |

    The last quarter of 2014 is upon us. How's your progress toward your certification goal this year? To help you cross that finish line, we're bringing you a special 15% discount on all MCP exams scheduled and taken by December 31, 2014.

    There's no voucher to buy. No extra promotion page to visit. Just use one of these discount codes when you schedule your exam!

    • Student (academic): STU15OFF
    • Everyone else: 15OFF

    Visit now to take advantage of this limited time offer. You can choose between Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers.

    Questions? Please review the full terms and conditions below. Good luck on your next exam!


    Terms and Conditions

    • Offer available from September 25, 2014 to December 31, 2014 or while supplies last.

    • Individuals must register for and take a Microsoft Certified Professional exam between September 25, 2014 and December 31, 2014 at an authorized Pearson VUE testing center, or between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 at authorized Prometric testing centers.

    • Promotional code may only be used for exams taken by December 31, 2014.

    • You must enter the promotional code 15OFF or STU15OFF when registering to take an exam to receive discount.  Discount will be taken off the cost of the exam at payment. 

    • This promotion is limited to Microsoft Certified Professional exams Commercial (070) and Direct to Student (072, 073) exams only.

    • Promotional code may be redeemed only in country from which they were received.

    • Promotional code may not be applied to exams previously taken or prior registrations.

    • Promotional code may not be combined with other discounts or vouchers.

    • Promotional code has no cash value.

    • Promotional code may not be used for any offering.

    • To register to take an exam, visit

    • There is a rescheduling fee for individuals who reschedule or cancel their appointment to take an exam 15 or fewer days before the scheduled date.

    • There are no refunds for individuals that cancel or reschedule their appointment to take an exam seventy-two hours or less from the scheduled time.

    • There are no refunds for individuals that fail to show up for their scheduled exam appointment.

    • Due to government gift and ethics laws, government employees (including military and employees of public education institutions) are not eligible to participate.

  • |

    We are excited to announce the availability of the Certified MCP shirts for Xbox Avatars in the Xbox Store. Now your avatar can show off his or her MCP pride, too!

    You can find these shirts for your avatar in the Xbox Games Store on or on an Xbox 360 console. Search for "Certified MCP". These free shirts will only be available for a limited time, so grab yours today!

  • For many years, I never gave much thought to my brand or to social media. After all, I was rather successful. I was turning away work. What more could a contractor ask for? But after a while, I realized I needed to take the next step. Although spending all of my time in the classroom was great, I wanted the next great challenge. I wanted to speak at conferences, to do video recordings, and get to the next rung on the career ladder.

    In order to do that, I needed to get my name out there. I needed something to differentiate myself from the competition. I needed to offer a reason to hire Christopher over another Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). I needed a brand.

    I started blogging. I updated my LinkedIn profile. I became more active on Twitter. I started looking for new opportunities that would allow me to get my name out there. I started to build my brand—I put myself and the face that I wanted everyone to see—out there.

    Even if you’re not necessarily looking for the next big thing, having a good brand is important for where you are right now. I’ll always remember a class I taught in Ottawa. Fellow MCT Susan Ibach was in the back of the room. After I’d done introductions and reached the first break of the day, Susan came up to me to let me know that the student next to her had already pulled up my Twitter and LinkedIn profile. Having a good brand could easily impact your evaluations on Friday.

    Building a brand takes time. I didn’t see results overnight. But within a short period, I had new clients calling me. I found opportunities to deliver beta classes for Microsoft Learning. I was offered chances to record Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) sessions. There is no single factor that drives success—you still need to show up and do a great job. However, having a brand that attracts positive attention is going to increase your reputation and can help get your name out there even further.

    Here are a few places where you can easily get started:

    • Get a set of headshots professionally done. I can’t stress this enough. The bit of time and money you spend on headshots will not only ease the challenge of having to hand over a headshot you like the next time one is required, but also it just looks, well, professional. Mine cost me $150, and an hour of my time, and they were worth every last penny. After all, that headshot is going to be the first thing people see when they bring up your profile, be it on LinkedIn, a conference site, or Twitter.
    • Treat public social media as public. I have political opinions, but none of them ever wind up on LinkedIn. Venting on Twitter may be cathartic, but posting something negative about a client, employer, or even a technology will often reflect negatively on you. Find one outlet (for me, it’s Facebook) where you can let your hair down and only connect with people you know and trust. Treat every other site as if you were standing on stage at a conference—because you are, only with a much larger audience.
    • Don’t be afraid to share a bit of yourself. If your Twitter feed is nothing but technology posts and promotions for your next speaking gig, people are going to tune out. Have a personality. My Twitter feed has a lot of promotional posts, but I sprinkle it with day-to-day things as well.*
    • Seize opportunities to gain big audiences. If you have the chance to record an MVA session, speak at a conference, or write a blog for Microsoft Learning, take it! Big audiences lead to more followers, an increased reputation, and eventually the next big gig.

    *Including posts about running!

  • Come on, admit it: you’ve always wanted to take one of our exams in your pajamas. I can’t be the only one.

    Or maybe you travel for business frequently and find yourself in a hotel room with nothing to do and nothing good on TV.

    Or maybe you just live hours away from the closest testing center and hate the idea of wasting fuel and time to get there.

    We feel you.

    Microsoft and Pearson VUE are on a mission together to make our certifications more convenient and accessible. That’s why we are excited—to put it mildly—to introduce what is probably our biggest innovation since we started certifying MCPs back in 1992.

    Starting today, if you are a U.S. resident (and if you’re not stay tuned—we’ll be expanding soon), you can take dozens of our MCP and MTA exam from the comfort of your home or office through a process called online proctoring by Pearson VUE. You can find the press release here.

    Online proctored exams are the exact same exams that we offer in onsite testing centers. What’s different is that the exam is administered by a remote proctor who will supervise you via webcam and microphone while you take your test.

    You can take an online proctored exam at home, at work, or at any other location that meets our hardware, software, security and environment requirements. (There are quite a few: you can view the full list here.)

    You’ll be asked to empty your pockets while on camera, provide a close-up on your ears so you can prove you’re not wearing a Bluetooth earpiece, do a visual sweep of your desk and the room…  all things you’d expect a proctor to check if they were there in the room with you. If you ensure that all of the requirements are met before you check in for your exam, the whole check-in process should only take about ten to fifteen minutes. If you have as many Bruce Springsteen posters on your office wall as I do, add another five minutes for the proctor to inspect them all for hidden notes.

    Another advantage to online proctored exams: you can schedule them with as little as fifteen minutes notice if appointment slots are available (Online proctored exams are available Monday through Friday, from 10am to 10pm Eastern Time), and your exam results will be immediately accessible from your MCP dashboard when you finish your exam.

    Sounds like a cool experience, right? It is—but since this is the early days of on-line testing (there’s a reason we’re calling this a beta), there are some important trade-offs to be aware of as well:

    • You’ll be recorded—both video and audio—for the duration of the exam.

    • You can’t take notes during the exam.

    • You can’t eat, drink, or chew gum while you take the exam.

    • You can’t take a break—for any reason. Including biological ones.

    If any of the above pose a problem, you should take your exam at a testing center instead.

    During this beta period, we’re not charging anything additional for these online exams—you can take them for the exact same price as their on-site counterparts. At this time, the beta is open to U.S. residents only, but we plan to add more countries soon.

    For more information, including the complete list of available online proctored exams, visit Pearson VUE’s website.

    And now if you’ll excuse me, I have an exam to take, and I need to go put on my Microsoft Certified Pajamas.


  • |

    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.


    Those of you who frequent the Born To Learn blog may recognize Larry Kaye. That’s because he is often found here blogging about a variety of topics, like the new Microsoft Azure certifications and MCSD recertification exams. Larry also recently announced the App Review to Cert Pilot program (now open globally!), which gives Windows Store developers a chance to earn credit toward Microsoft Certification with their apps. 

    With Larry involved in so many things here at Microsoft Learning, I was excited to have the opportunity to learn about his role on the team. In fact, during the seven-minute interview, I learned that Larry is in charge of many areas, including certifications as they relate to developers and SQL paths. I asked him:

    • About his role and responsibilities.
    • What he enjoys about his role.
    • What is considered when making certification changes.
    • His tips for someone trying to get a job at Microsoft.

    Big thanks to Larry for taking the time out of his schedule to speak with me. It was very cool to learn about his role! As a Community Manager here at Microsoft Learning, it was great to hear that he (and the rest of our team) always considers community in decision-making.

    Do you want to connect with Larry? Find him on the Born To Learn blog, and leave a comment on any of his blog posts.

    Thank for checking out our latest “Inside MSL” interview, and be sure to come back soon for another interview with one of our team members! 

  • UPDATE:  The class has reached capacity, so this offer is closed. Ask your learning partner for information about future deliveries of the course!!

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Be the first to learn cloud web application development for the Microsoft Azure platform with a complimentary, instructor-led course, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (20532A)!

    Global Knowledge is offering a live online class, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (20532A), the week of September 29-October 3, 2014 for FREE* to the first eight registrations.

    You will learn how to use Microsoft Azure to create and manage virtual machines and virtual networks, implement cloud services, create SQL Databases and implement security in cloud web applications.

    This five day course covers the skills and knowledge measured by Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions.

    Who Should Attend?

    • Developers who want to learn how to take an existing ASP.NET MVC application and expand functionality to the Microsoft Azure platform

    • MCTs

    Class time and date: September 29-October 3, 2014; 830am-430pm Eastern

    Register by September 25, 2014 by emailing your contact information including name, company name, address, phone number and email address to Please note company name is required.

    *You will be required to attend each day of the class to qualify for free registration.