Thanks for all the great questions to the original post! I did have to use other people's brains to answer most of the questions, though, and am still waiting for answers to some of the questions. Here's what I (well, "we" may be more appropriate) can answer now. Note that I modified your questions a bit for conciseness in this post; if I changed the intent of your question, let me know. I will find an answer and tell you what I can!
Q: Is Microsoft making plans to completely move away from the multiple choice/selection based exams to more exams of the 'virtual lab' type? If so, when do you expect this to happen? Will there be more exams like 83-640?
A: The one question I can answer! As some of you know, we had some delivery problems with lab based exams in some parts of the world. As a result, we decided to remove these items from market while investigating root causes and identified solutions. We are pilot testing the use of this item type on a smaller scale as we make improvements and re-evaluate the scalability (i.e., ability to deliver worldwide) of these item types. To learn more about this decision, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-dev-release.aspx#tab4
We are exploring other item types that will increase the real world/relevance of our exams. Some of these item types include other forms of performance based testing, while others are variations of item types that we use today. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but I promise some fun (psychometrically speaking) stuff is on the horizon. I'll be blogging about that soon!
By the way, one of the people asking about 83-640 mentioned a learning disability that prevented him from finishing the exam in the time allotted. Microsoft is dedicated to developing technology that is usable by and accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. If you are unable to take a Microsoft Certification exam, either using standard testing equipment or within the standard exam duration, the Microsoft Certification program is committed to making all reasonable efforts to accommodate you. To learn more, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-policies.aspx#tab5
A: (Provided by Joe Sack) Regarding the new format, the only program to have this announced change is the Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008 program. The Advanced Certifications program will certainly keep track of the success of this new program; however, any potential future changes to other programs will be based on the needs of that particular program and also the needs of that particular product community (including customer & partner feedback).
Q: I've been staring and comparing at the differences between the MCSA Security and the MCSE (standard) tracks, trying to determine which to go for next. In the MCSA Security Track, you can use 70-299 "Implementing and Administering Security" in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network but not 70-298 "Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network" as an elective. In the MCSE (standard) track you can use 70-298 but not 70-299 for the design core component. Why are you not be able to use 70-298 in the MCSA Security Track?
A: (Provided by J Seymour) 70-298 is a design exam while 70-299 is focused on security implementation and administration; as a result, 70-299 cannot be used to meet the design requirement for the standard MSCE track. Because design is considered a higher level task than implementation/administration, 70-298 is a more appropriate for the MCSE credential, which is considered a higher level certification, than it is for the MCSA Security credential, which is a lower level certification focused on administration (so an administration exam makes more sense for a certification focused on administration). Both 298 and 299 could be used for MCSE Security (one required, one as an elective).
Q: Are there books in the works to cover the Server 2008 R2 question additions in the 70-640 series exams?
A: (Provided by J Seymour) Windows Server 2008 courseware has been updated for R2, and books are in process of being updated and/or written to cover this new functionality.
Q: What is the status of the virtualized exams, will they be coming back?
A: (Provided by J Seymour) The Virtualization Administrator TK bundle as well as the individual exams (659/669/693) are available. Prep guides and associated learning materials can be found here:
To learn more about the virtualization certification, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-virtualization.aspx
Q: Is there any news about the delayed/cancelled exam for Forefront Threat Management Gateway?
A: (Provided by J Seymour) We will not be developing this exam. We are developing a Forefront exam (70-162) that covers FEP, FPE, FPSP instead.
Q: Can you give us any news about 70-402 PRO: Microsoft System Center, Data Center Administrator and 70-404 TS: System Center Service Manager 2010, Configuring? They have been listed on the Partner sites forever, but all I get is silence when I ask about them.
A: (Provided by J Seymour) We are currently planning to beging development on the System Center learning products in the first half of 2011.
Q: Will training books soon contain virtual machines on DVD with the right configuration? When I train for an exam, I review the prep guide, and try to perform the tasks. Or, if I read a book I try to do the tasks as I read about them, but I spend a lot of time downloading software.
A: (Provided by J Seymour) We occassionally include VMs in books, but licensing is a huge issue. Trial software has to be used, or you're buying the OS. Keep in mind that our exams are intended to validate real skills. The absolute best way to study for an exam is to download the software and play with it even if it takes time to download it. It's great that you downloaded and installed systems center! That's what you should do! Keep playing with it, and take the test!
If I didn't answer your question here, I'm still looking for an answer. I'll post a follow up with those answers in the new year. See, I really do want to know what's on your mind and will find the answers to your questions. So ask away! What other questions do you have?
Happy Holidays from all of Microsoft Learning!
Great info! Any estimated dates / quarters for 70-162?
Thanks for this informative post, looking forward to more!
By the way, I'm pretty sure the question "What is the status of the virtualized exams, will they be coming back?" was referring to 83-640, not exams about virtualization. ;)
Thank you Liberty. This was very helpful.
I'm surprised no TMG exam will be developed. There have been exams for each version of ISA since it was still called Proxy Server. The recent added functionlity to TMG would - in my opinion - warrant a new exam.
Is this a clue as to the demise of TMG (in favor of UAG)?
Thnx for the info on the MCM program, and also the other questions/answers are quite interesting.
70-162 should be live around June 2011. We're thinking beta in March-ish.
Don't read anything into the future of TMG based on whether we do an exam or not. Run rates, available budget, schedules, etc. all have a lot to do with whether we do an exam or not. Microsoft is a big company and MSL is an independent entity from the Product Groups (think wholly owned subsidiary). There are lots of great products that don't have an exam. At the moment TMG happens to be one of them. :)
The Exam 70-162 was announced for the 10th December 2010.
Evidently there is no 70-162 bookable at prometric today.
Could you tell us, when to expect this exam, please?