• The month of January is now behind us. Every year around this time, people are making strides toward their resolutions that focus on better health, kicking bad habits, and starting new projects, but what about your career resolutions? Even though you may spend a majority of time at work, finding ways to boost your resume and skillset often takes a backseat to other goals.

    Career goals look different for everyone: changing one’s professional path, winning that coveted promotion, or trying to stand out in a sea of resumes. Maybe you want to make more of an impact in your role, broaden the scope of responsibility, or become more marketable in your field.

    Regardless of your end goal, having the right credentials can help propel your technology career forward. If you’ve read our last entry on the new IDC report , you know that hiring managers are seeking out certified IT professionals who bring proven value to the table. This means there has never been a better time to add “Get Certified” to your resolutions list, no matter where you’re starting from.

    Recent grads and new technology professionals might wonder what type of certification will prove most useful; a great place to start is our IT certification overview, where you can learn about the various certificates offered and determine the right path for you.

    If you’re a technology veteran looking to validate your skills or keep up with current software and business trends, you may already know which path you’d like to pursue. If this is the case, it’s a great idea to be get certification. Proving expertise in your area makes you a more marketable and qualified candidate, and a valuable asset to your team. 

    If you’re still on the fence about adding certification to your list of career-focused resolutions, I invite you to read more about the value of being certified here.

  • |

    Here are some great new products from Microsoft Press and our authors!

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    In this ebook, we introduce three new security features: Always Encrypted, Row-Level Security, and dynamic data masking; discuss enhancements that enable you to better manage performance and storage: TempDB configuration, query store, and Stretch Database; review several improvements to Reporting Services; and also describe AlwaysOn Availability Groups, tabular enhancements, and R integration.

    New Titles

    Microsoft Visio 2016 Step by Step

    Get more done quickly with Visio 2016. Jump in wherever you need answers--brisk lessons and colorful screenshots show you exactly what to do, step by step. Get results faster with starter diagrams. Diagram processes, organizations, networks, and datacenters. Add styles, colors, and themes. Enhance diagrams with data-driven visualizations. Link to external data sources, websites, and documents. Add structure to diagrams with containers, lists, and callouts. Validate flowchart, swimlane, and BPMN diagrams. Collaborate and publish with Visio Services and Microsoft SharePoint 2016.

    Modern Authentication with Azure Active Directory for Web Applications

    Active Directory has been transformed to reflect the cloud revolution, modern protocols, and today’s newest SaaS paradigms. This is an authoritative, deep-dive guide to building Active Directory authentication solutions for these new environments. Author Vittorio Bertocci drove these technologies from initial concept to general availability, playing key roles in everything from technical design to documentation. In this book, he delivers comprehensive guidance for building complete solutions. For each app type, Bertocci presents high-level scenarios and quick implementation steps, illuminates key concepts in greater depth, and helps you refine your solution to improve performance and reliability. He helps you make sense of highly abstract architectural diagrams and nitty-gritty protocol and implementation details. This is the book for people motivated to become experts.

    New Sample Chapter

    Azure Active Directory application model

    This chapter from Modern Authentication with Azure Active Directory for Web Applications takes a closer look at how Azure AD represents applications and their relationships to other apps, users, and organizations.

    New Videos from Author Blain Barton

    Get the book

    Watch the videos:

    (Part 1) To the Cloud! What the Cloud can do for your Business
    (Part 2) To the Cloud! Getting Started with Office 365
    (Part 3) To the Cloud! Storing your files in the cloud with OneDrive for Business
    (Part 4) To the Cloud! Keeping track of customers with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
    (Part 5) To the Cloud! Managing Devices in the Cloud with Microsoft Intune
    (Part 6) To the Cloud! Building and Running Servers without the Hardware
    (Part 7) To the Cloud! Understanding Server Manager
    (Part 8) To the Cloud! Running Windows Applications Remotely
    (Part 9) To the Cloud! Giving Users Access to Third-Party Applications
    (Part 10) To the Cloud! Building a Website for Your Business
    (Part 11) To the Cloud! Building a Windows App Using Windows App Studio

  • With technical expertise in high demand today, you might be wondering what the best options are for technical certification, or whether earning one will boost your career. A recent research has some answers for you.

    Certified candidates are more attractive to employers. Certifications can enhance your marketability and act as a key differentiator for candidates seeking roles on technology teams. Not only does having a certification demonstrate tangible proof of your competence with particular technologies, but discerning employers also recognize that certified employees bring more value to their organizations and to their customers. A recent IDC study* revealed that:
    • Certified new hires reach full productivity one month sooner than non-certified new hires, and usually stay longer with the organization
    • Certified server, database, and application development teams are 17% more efficient than non-certified teams
    • Certified employees develop nearly twice as many applications in less time than non-certified developers, with higher on-time and on-budget delivery rates
    • Certified IT staff improve system availability and resiliency, which improves customer satisfaction

    Certified employees enjoy better earnings, more responsibilities, and greater advancement opportunities. Certification pays off, and not just monetarily. IDC interviewed organizations about how certification can benefit employees financially and with career advancement. Here’s what they found:
    • Certified employees earn 15% more on average than staff without certification
    • Certification is one of the most important characteristics when organizations select a candidate for a more advanced position
    • Certified IT staff members are given more responsibility than noncertified staff members, frequently leading to supervisory and management roles
    • Certification simplifies screening job candidates, making certified job-seekers more likely to be hired

    The research results are clear. Training and certification benefit your career whether you’re a new entrant or changing jobs. The IDC research paper sums it up this way: “These benefits accumulate over time and can result in different career trajectories for certified employees, with greater opportunities, more career fulfillment, and greater responsibilities.”

    Download the full IDC report and get started with your training

  • Mehdi Hammadi is an MCT Regional Lead in Algeria and took the time to teach his children how to code in December. A very touching example how the Hour of Code can excite those closest to us about technology and development. Here is Mehdi’s story:

    This afternoon, I had the pleasure to organize the “Hour of Code” event, but because of a huge charge of work and a short time to prepare for that, I organized it just for three attendees. These three newbies programmers were Feriel, my daughter 10 years old, and her two cousins. Lotfi, 08 years old and Aymen, 11 years old. The event was organized in the kitchen J.

    The kids spent no less than 5 hours realizing the 18 stages of the course 1. At times they were competing while at other times they helped each other mutually applying what they just learned on the videos. There were some frustrations when they were not able to do a puzzle right the first time and understanding the loop blocks was challenging for them but puzzle after puzzle, stage after stage they were progressing in the course until I sound the first explosion of joy and this exclamation "I had my certificate!" followed soon by two others "Me too!", "Me too!". The three newbies programmers were jumping and saying “We did it, we did it, we did it!”. It was amazing and we did not see the time. It was like a dream and the kids woke up after five hours.

    Because I have no printer at home, I printed the certificate the next day at work and when I came back, the first think they asked me was “Did you print and bring the certificates?” and the second one was “Can we try another tutorial?”

    So I gave them the certificate and Lotfi was so glad he raced show it to his neighbor.

    They were not the only ones to be pleased and their moms and myself were very proud and very happy for them.

  • Have you ever wondered if certified technology employees make much of a difference? The International Data Corporation (IDC) did too, and even ran a study1 to find out—and the results are unequivocal.

    In their recent study outlining the business value of IT certification, the IDC surveyed technology managers throughout several organizations to learn the benefits of employing certified professionals. The general conclusion is that certified employees are better able to support numerous efforts at the company, but a few specifics stood out:

    Increased productivity. Everyone talks a good productivity game—but certified employees walk the walk, too. Interviewed organizations found that certified employees can handle complex challenges more efficiently, are able to support and mentor uncertified staff, and are 17% more productive across core IT activities.

    Improved risk mitigation. Here’s a staggering stat: certified technology professionals reduce unplanned downtime by 56%, according to the study. That’s because they are more knowledgeable about how to diagnose problems, reduce the severity and duration of outages, and improve systems resiliency.

    Better business agility. For companies on tight timelines, technology-certified employees can improve time to market of new applications and features by 58% . They also deliver about two-thirds more applications on budget—savings that can be reinvested in the company.

    Sustainable hiring. Want less turnover? Turns out certified staff onboard more quickly, take on more responsibilities, and advance faster than non-certified employees. This means they’re more engaged, and are more likely to stick around—with average tenures about 15% longer than uncertified staff. Talk about commitment!

    So if you’ve been debating the value of hiring certified employees, or supporting your staff in pursuing certification, the IDC study speaks for itself. And if you need more information, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you—and your team—move forward.

    Download the full IDC report, or learn more about hiring Microsoft Certified employees.

     

     

    1The Business Value of IT Certification, International Data Corporation, October 2015.

  • LeAndra is an MCT Regional Lead in Atlanta Georgia and has a great story of guiding students in her community through the Hour of Code. What a great impact she made in the community! Here is LeAndra’s story:

    “Ms. Jordan, If I decide to do a career in the field of Coding can I use you as a reference?” These are the words of a 9-year old student at Tussahaw Elementary School located in McDonough, Georgia. The words that prompted a note to self for me to clear my calendar for 2016 Hour of Code tm.

    When I introduced myself to the class, I wasn’t certain what type of impact the Hour of Code tm Initiative would have on such a young group of students. I just knew that my presentation had to be engaging, exciting and everlasting. As it would be the first impression on the topic of computer science for many of the students and teachers participating in the event. Up to this point, the 4th grade Curriculum only introduces the students to Earth Science. Yet, this initiative allowed for a direct connection to Earth Science through Computer Science – Minecraft Hour of Code tm . Mining, cropping and identifying natural resources was a seamless tie-in to the blocky coding tutorial that took Minecraft characters on an adventure through a Minecraft World. Familiarity helped the students assimilate their previous knowledge and bridged the gap to something new. The students were engaged, elated, enlighten and enamored while enjoying every moment of the tutorial. It wasn’t long before the word “coding” made its way throughout the hallways of school building and encouraged an impromptu visit from the Principal. She immediately turned to me and said, “Let’s make sure every student is coding next year.” Yes! The entire school will be celebrating Computer Science Education week in 2016 complimented with another great Hour of Code tm . It was my pleasure to feed the flame of computer programming and personally enjoyed every moment shared.
    ________________________________________


    Feedback from the students. Tussahaw Elementary School, McDonough, Georgia

    "It was amazing. It can be implemented into my everyday life because you can practice." -Yahsir

    "It is creative. I want to be a scientist so I know coding is part of that. It was mind-blowing." -Tyron

    "It was very challenging. It helped me with perseverance. I really liked it." -Rachel

    "It was brilliant. I liked the Star Wars one too. You really had to be accurate." -JiCarter

    "I loved the Minecraft, but I didn't have time to do the Frozen one." -Joanna

    "I was really impressed with the Hour Of Codetm. I wasn't sure what the students would be learning. However, I was very happy. Students were using collaboration, problem solving skills and perseverance. Not only that, they had a ball. They weren't frustrated when the "puzzles" got challenging. Instead, they pushed themselves even harder. The presenter was very engaging and knowledgeable. I would absolutely do it again!" – S. Williams, Teacher

  • With the 2015 European MCT Summit now over, I’ve had some time to rest and can look back on what made the summit so great.

    First of all, I would like to thank you for all the support in organizing this summit. It was very important to have the Support of Microsoft LeX, Microsoft Portugal and all the sponsors. Without all of them this event wouldn’t have been possible.

    This year we had a total of 84 participants; including staff, speakers, sponsors and attendees from 16 different countries. We also had 13 sponsors, 3 of which were platinum: Virsoft, Veeam and Microsoft Lex. There were 3 local sponsors in attendance as well: Actual Training, Rumos and Iten. With the help of the sponsors, we were able to support a lot of the costs of the summit and allow for a lower fee for all the MCTs in attendance.

    As the lead organizer, I can tell you that I had a great time organizing this event for the MCT Community. I left my comfort zone and learned a lot of new and exciting skills. It’s not always easy to manage a team and the different levels of customer support provided by some of the suppliers. But in the end, seeing a very satisfied family of MCTs made it worth it.

    I would also like to thank you all for the nice feedback during and after the summit. This event is from the MCT community for the MCT community, so when you get a “thank you” from your fellows MCTs it feels great.

    Next year’s European Summit will be in Germany, with the city still being determined. We’ll have more news about location and dates coming soon on our website: http://www.mctsummit.eu.

    I hope to see you all at several Microsoft / MCT events this year, and of course in Germany for the European MCT Summit 2016! We’re working hard to ensure that the European MCT Summit 2016 will be a blast!

     

    Tiago Costa

    MCT, MCT Regional Lead – Portugal and IAMCT Country Lead – Portugal.

  • Hello MCPs,

    In 2016, the MCP Program will provide you with enhanced career management resources as an added benefit to your Microsoft Certification. You worked hard to earn your MCP and we want to help put your achievements on display to accelerate your career. MCPs can already share their certifications on LinkedIn and create a public MCP Profile discoverable by recruiters and hiring managers and we have now added an additional partner to the fold.

    I am pleased to announce a new agreement with Gooroo, an Australian tech career management company with revolutionary platform matching candidates with over 500,000 available jobs in the US, UK and Australia.

    Gooroo has grown substantially, largely through word of mouth, since launching quietly in early 2015 and is currently free for all users. Gooroo will be launching its premium level tools later in 2016 and MCPs will receive 12 months free access from that time. In the meantime you will receive MCP recognition on the platform as well Ambassador status, which includes rewards.

    Gooroo’s premium service will be made available free for 12 months to our MCP community and assist you in designing and accelerating your tech careers. MCPs in the US, UK and Australia can access the MCP landing page on the Gooroo site through a link on the MCP dashboard: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/dashboard.aspx.

    Gooroo will be expanding into other markets in 2016 and the offer will be expanded to MCPs in these markets when available through Gooroo. Details on the offer from Gooroo, platform capabilities, and opportunities for MCPs on the Gooroo site can be accessed on the Gooroo MCP Page: https://gooroo.io/microsoft

    About Gooroo: Make your next career move a smart one, knowing the tech skills that are in demand and attracting the highest salaries in your area. Create a match profile to get a personalized skills analysis in seconds, showing your most in demand and valuable skills as well as the value and demand of your skills gaps.” Check out this short video with The CEO of Gooroo, Greg Muller: Gooroo Video

    Reminder, while job data is currently only available in the US, UK and Australia, all MCPs are welcome to access the site and access the other benefits. Other available markets will be announced when available.

    Stay tuned for more announcements about Gooroo, the MCP Profile and other career resources.

    Thanks!

    Patrick Thomas

  • Are you an expert in designing and managing Exchange Server? Are you responsible for the Exchange Server 2016 messaging environment in an enterprise environment? If so, here's your chance to start down the path to the MCSE certification for free AND help us improve the quality of this exam!

    We are opening up 350 beta seats for this beta exam (exam number: 70-345)... This means you can take the exam for free!! BUT... the seats are limited to first come, first served basis--so, register today (these codes will only work through February 12, 2016, meaning you have to register AND take the exam on or before that date)--and we need you take the exam as soon as possible so we can leverage your comments, feedback, and exam data in our evaluation of the quality of the questions. The sooner you take the exam, the more likely it is that we will be able to use your feedback to make improvements to the exam. This is your chance to have a voice in the questions we include on the exam when it goes live. 

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-345.aspx. To prepare for this beta exam, check out my recent blog for ideas: https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/b/weblog/archive/2015/12/31/just-how-does-one-prepare-for-beta-exams-without-preparation-materials.

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code EXCH2016010B to take it for free, but these codes are only valid for exam dates on or before Feb. 12, 2016. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

    Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

    Well...what are you waiting for? Register before all the seats are gone!

  • |

    At Microsoft, we have the exciting opportunity to help student developers at any ability level explore their curiosity and creativity. As students grow their technology skills, we want them to dream big and learn to solve problems in unique ways. By providing resources, tools, experiences, or connections, we hope to inspire and guide students as they bring their ideas to life throughout their educational journey. That’s why we’re proud to integrate Microsoft Imagine Academy into Microsoft’s Imagine portfolio of academic resources.

     

    Microsoft Imagine Academy is an evolution of our IT Academy program, one of our company’s longest standing education initiatives built on deep partnerships with learning institutions and a commitment to skill building for students and educators. We are furthering our investment here to provide solutions that engage students and help tackle the ever evolving challenges in preparing the next generation of thinkers and workers. Imagine Academy delivers a complete technology education solution that equips students with the IT skills needed for successful careers in today’s workforce and provides professional development resources for educators. We are thrilled to work closely with members of Imagine Academy’s global academic community, which includes public or private K–12 schools, vocational schools, correspondence schools, junior colleges, colleges, universities, or scientific/technical schools, with the shared desire to provide students with a real opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

     

    The curriculum and resources of Imagine Academy are designed to help prepare students for success in higher education and the modern workforce. Whether they are new to coding, growing their sophistication in their field of study, or launching a career, it’s imperative that we provide future generations with the technology skills they need to lead the way. Join me in the quest to educate today’s students to become tomorrow’s professionals – visit Microsoft Imagine Academy today.

  • In December, Karen Juhl, David Garber, and I had the opportunity to participate in the Hour of Code leading 52 5th grade students from Rose Hill Elementary through the process. It was amazing to see the excitement, not only over the free t-shirts we gave them, but in coding! We had lots of Minecraft fans in the group and they all took to the format of the HoC.

     

    Huddled around computers in groups of two, they eagerly worked through each challenge. We walked around, answered questions and mostly just cheered them on. I had one question from a kid whose computer was frozen. He looked up at me and said " you can fix this, you work for Microsoft"...I wanted to call an MCT for help at that moment. Luckily, I was able to fix the issue through logging out and logging back in--super technical solution. Many of the students finished well before the hour was up and wanted to start over and do it again!

     

    After the hour was up, we ended the session with a group picture and received a big thank you from the whole group. It was so refreshing to spend time with these kids and to see their genuine excitement and passion brought out through learning computer science. I hope these kids had as much fun as we did. Perhaps one or two of these kids will carry the momentum forward and join us at Microsoft in the future...or become an MCT someday. Regardless, they all walked away with the knowledge that they can code!

     

    I want to hear your stories if you participated. I've received a couple so far and we want to get them all up on Born to Learn.

     

    Thanks!

    PT


  • Another common question that I am seeing quite frequently in your comments to my beta exam posts is "how do I prepare for a beta exam?" For a number of reasons, exam development occurs much more quickly and is usually well ahead of the development of associated learning materials. Why? Because exams are independent evaluations of skills, we don't need to wait for the learning materials to be created in order to develop the exams. In fact, our goal is to have an exam in market as soon as the technology is released to the public. In order to do this, we create our exam questions as soon as the technology or service is stable enough for us to do so (by "stable," I mean that technology/service is unlikely to change significantly after we have spent time, money, and resources to write the questions... at least for a small window of time it takes to get the exam in market).

    So, how do you prepare? Well, start by determining if the exam is right for you. Review the "Who should take this exam?" section of the Exam Details page. The Exam Details page can be found at the URL that I always include in my blog posts related to beta exam availability. Do you have the necessary skills and abilities to potentially be successful in this content area? Here is the MOST important thing you should remember about beta exams--they are intended for people who truly have the skills and experiences defined by that target audience description. Because of the limited preparation resources, you only have the possibility of being successful if you meet this minimum bar.

    Do you have the minimum skills? If so, the next step is to review the "Skills Measured" section. Carefully, evaluate your skills in relation to those being assessed on the exam. Can you perform the tasks listed? If someone asked you how to perform the task, could you explain to them what you do and why? Actually perform the tasks listed in the “Skills Being Measured” section of the Exam Details page. Note any challenges that you encountered and keep practicing. Hands-on experience performing these tasks is essential to passing our exams. Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Ask others how they perform those tasks. Do they perform the task differently? Understand why they do.

    Finally, there may be learning resources available (although I should mention that this is rare for most beta exams). If any are available, they will be listed on the Exam Details page for the exam under "Preparation Options."  We are working closely with our practice test provider to have practice tests in market as soon as the exam is live; at times, they will be available at the same time the exam is in beta. As a result, this may be an option as you prepare for a beta exams, but you shouldn't rely on it. In addition, you should review the learning options available at www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com. At Microsoft Virtual Academy, you may find learning activities that are related to the skills measured on the exam; MVA may not have a perfect fit training solution, but it might have options that are good enough. Any resource that causes you to think through the task and skill being assessed will help your learning process.

    Beta exam preparation in a nutshell:

    1) Do you have the skills and experiences described in "Who should take this exam?"

    2) If so, which of the skills measured do you have? Which tasks can you preform? Which don't you have or can't you perform? Be honest!

    3) Practice, practice, practice

    4) Still can't do it? Ask experts how they perform the task. Understand how and why they do it that way. Are there any situations when they would perform the task differently? Why?

    5) Do a Bing search for white papers and MSDN and TechNet articles, or similar for other insights into those skill and the tasks covered by the exam. Explore MVA for training and learning options that are related to skills being measured by the exam.

    6) Take the exam!

    7) GOOD LUCK!!!

  • I get a lot of questions about the difference between credentialing, certification, certificate, and licensure programs within Microsoft. There is a lot of confusion, not only within my organization but also among candidates and to some extent, within the industry. I recently attended the ICE (Institute for Credentialing Excellence) conference where I led a breakout session with two esteemed colleagues in the industry, Brian Bontempo and Phil Koneman, on this very topic. Are you curious about what the difference is between these concepts? As you explore your credentialing options, do you really know what you are being awarded...regardless of what the program calls it?

    Let's start at the beginning with credentialing. Credentialing is the overarching term used to refer to concepts, such as professional certification, certificate programs, accreditation, and licensure.

    Digging into this, licensure tends to be the pinnacle of the credentialing pyramid (if such a thing actually exists) in that it is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job and is a mandatory process required by the government for an individual to practice his or her profession. Licenses are always time bound, meaning that after some period of time, individuals must demonstrate that they continue to have the necessary skills and abilities for competent practice.

    A certification program is similar in that by meeting the associated requirements to earn the certification, certified candidates have demonstrated that they possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for competent performance in the job or content domain being assessed. Although certifications are not mandated by the government, some professions require certification for employment or practice. 

    In contrast to certification and licensure, an assessment-based certificate program is an educational or training program that is used to train and then assess whether key learning objectives were achieved by the learner. In this case, the assessment is clearly tied to the training because the goal of the process is to demonstrate that learners have attained the learning objectives. This is the key difference between the way we think of exams (independent evaluations of skills regardless of how those skills are attained) and assessments (tied to the demonstration of learning objectives taught during training).

    Accreditation is the process by which a credentialing or educational program is evaluated against defined standards and is awarded recognition if it is in compliance with those standards. This is important because all three of these areas in the credentialing space can be accredited, even assessment-based certificate programs. Many people believe that these are less rigorous than certification and licensure, but you can design very rigorous assessment based certificate programs that meet the same reliability and validity requirements as accredited certification and licensure programs. Accreditation is a seal of approval from a third party that you are meeting predefined quality standards.

    Microsoft has a certification program, but many of the comments I hear from candidates is that our training and books don't align to the exams. While I am working on ways to create closer alignment between them, keep in mind that Microsoft has a certification program (an independent evaluation of skills not tied to training), not an assessment based certificate program, which is tied to training. I hope that this distinction makes more sense now. As always, I am happy to answer your questions. Ask away!

  • Want a free retake on your MCP exam? The 2015 Second Shot offer is ending on January 12, 2016. That means you have to take your exam on or before January 12, 2016 to qualify for a free retake (if you need it, that is). Get the details from the special offers section on our website, and book that exam appointment ASAP!

    On a related note, Pearson VUE will be observing holiday hours for customer service and online proctoring, as listed below. For available appointment times at your local Pearson VUE testing center, please check via our usual exam scheduling process on microsoft.com/learning. Good luck on your next exam!

    Pearson VUE Call Center for candidate support:
    • Contact Info = http://home.pearsonvue.com/test-taker/Customer-service.aspx
    • Christmas Eve = open regular hours
    • Christmas Day = closed
    • New Year’s Eve = open regular hours
    • New Year’s Day = open regular hours

    The following dates/times will be unavailable for scheduling an online proctored exam:
    • Christmas Day = starting at 9:30am IST (will reopen on 12/26 per the regular Saturday schedule)
    • New Year’s Eve = starting at 9:30am IST
    • New Year’s Day = all day (will reopen on 1/2/2016 per the regular Saturday schedule)

  • With so many beta exams in market right now, I thought it might be a good idea to address the most common question/complaint that I hear in relation to beta exams... Twenty minutes isn't long enough for me to comment on all the questions that I want to comment on! Why can't you give us more time or let us comment on the question during the exam?

    In order to protect the content, I must limit the amount of comment time provided during the beta exams, just as I do during live exams. Because beta feedback is so important to the quality of the exam development process, I allow twice as much comment time for betas than I do for live exams. Although it may not seem like it’s enough time for comments, if you have an issue with an item, I guarantee that someone else does as well and that someone will have taken the time to comment on it. Given the number of beta candidates and their different perspectives on what is important enough to comment on, I feel confident that I am getting the critical feedback needed from your comments while balancing the need to do everything I can to protect our content.

    I cannot allow comments during the exam itself because 1) I need to know how much time it really takes people to answer questions, 2) exams must be timed and many test takers will spend more time commenting on items rather than answering them—inevitably they will run out of time before finishing the exam, leading to dissatisfaction (and while I don’t want to play ‘mom,’ sometimes I have to make decisions that help candidates manage their time appropriately during the exam), and 3) commenting during the exam changes the exam experience, which has psychometric implications for the fairness, consistency, validity, and reliability of the process.

    Now that you know why I limit comment time, here's what you can do to maximize the time that you do have. Prioritize your issues and concerns. Spend more time commenting on issues related to the technical accuracy of the questions, clarity issues, and questions where there doesn't seem to be a correct answer or where there may be more than one correct answer combination. Spend less time commenting that you liked/loved a question (although I do love to read those comments, if you have substantive issues/concerns, I would rather you spend your time telling me about those issues) or saying that you don't have a comment...you'd be surprised by the number of these types of comments that I read. Interestingly, the questions with the most comments tend to be those with typos. So, if you have other issues to comment on, save the items with typos for the end unless the typo is so egregious that it's not possible to answer the question correctly. Someone else will comment on typos...trust me.

    That being said, if you have feedback on any questions that you were unable to provide during the exam, please feel free to send it to mslcd@microsoft.com. Describe what you remember about the question and the issue or concern that you have. We’ll see if can find the suspect question and be sure to review both its comments and psychometric performance.

  • Are you an expert in designing big data analytics solutions on Microsoft Azure? Here's your chance to start down the path to certification for free AND help us improve the quality of this exam!

    We are opening up 300 beta seats for this beta exam... This means you can take the exam for free!! BUT... the seats are limited to first come, first served basis--so, register today (these codes will only work through 1/15/16, meaning you have to register AND take the exam on or before that date)--and we need you take the exam as soon as possible so we can leverage your comments, feedback, and exam data in our evaluation of the quality of the questions. The sooner you take the exam, the more likely it is that we will be able to use your feedback to make improvements to the exam. This is your chance to have a voice in the questions we include on the exam when it goes live. 

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-475.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code BETA475SME (CODE UPDATED and is correct) to take it for free. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

    Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

    Well...what are you waiting for? Register before all the seats are gone!

  • Are you an expert in designing and implementing Microsoft data platform solutions? Do you have work experience in on-premises and cloud-based platform solutions? Are you able to identify tradeoffs and make decisions for designing public and hybrid cloud solutions? Can you define the appropriate infrastructure and platform solutions to meet the required functional, operational, and deployment requirements through the solution lifecycle? Here's your chance to start down the path to certification for free AND help us improve the quality of this exam!

    We are opening up 300 beta seats for this beta exam... This means you can take the exam for free!! BUT... the seats are limited to first come, first served basis--so, register today (these codes will only work through 1/15/16)--and we need you take the exam as soon as possible so we can leverage your comments, feedback, and exam data in our evaluation of the quality of the questions. The sooner you take the exam, the more likely it is that we will be able to use your feedback to make improvements to the exam. This is your chance to have a voice in the questions we include on the exam when it goes live. 

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-473.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code BETA473SME to take it for free. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

    Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

    Well...what are you waiting for? Register before all the seats are gone!

  • |

    The MCSE: Communication certification is being updated to support Skype for Business skills.

    Starting 28-December, 2015, the following two new Skype for Business exams (currently in beta) will fulfill the MCSE: Communication requirements, provided that the candidate has already earned a qualifying MCSA credential:

     The following Microsoft Lync Server 2013 exams retire on 31-March, 2016, but will remain an accepted path towards earning MCSE: Communication until 31-July, 2016:

     Please see the MCSE: Communication web page for more details after 28-December.

  • UPDATE #2 - 10:00AM Pacific, Dec 15 - Great to see the response for these two exams! We've just added 150 additional free beta seats for each exam. Go and grab your spot now!

    UPDATE 11:55am Pacific - All free seats for these beta exams have been claimed. Thanks for your interest! I'll be announcing more beta exams on our blog this week, so keep watching!

    Are you an expert in designing, planning, deploying, and maintaining solutions for unified communications (UC)? Do you deploy Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online solutions for end users, endpoint devices, telephony, audio/video and web conferences, security, and high availability? Well, have I got something FUN for you! Take the beta exam, get on the road to earning your MCSE (for free), AND help us improve the quality of this exam!

    We are opening up 300 beta seats for these beta exams... This means you can take the exams for free!! BUT... the seats are limited to first come, first served basis--so, register today (these codes will only work through 1/15/16, meaning you have to register AND take the exams on or before that date)--and we need you take the exam as soon as possible so we can leverage your comments, feedback, and exam data in our evaluation of the quality of the questions. The sooner you take the exam, the more likely it is that we will be able to use your feedback to make improvements to the exam. This is your chance to have a voice in the questions we include on the exam when it goes live. 

    To prepare for these exams, review our prep guides and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-333.aspx and https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-334.aspx .

    ***Register for the 333 beta exam from its prep guide page and use code SKYPE4B333 to take it for free. 

    ***Register for the 334 beta exam from its prep guide page and use code SKYPE4B334 to take it for free. 

    Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

    Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

    Register today before all the seats are gone!

  • Microsoft’s learning resources are focused on enabling cloud opportunity through next generation skilling & readiness.  Microsoft has also made a commitment to enable choice and support the open source community, allowing customers to leverage the platforms of their choice. To support that, today we are pleased to announce the “Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux® on Azure” certification which recognizes the importance of open source-based workloads in the Microsoft cloud.

     

    This certification was created in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling innovation through open source, and is designed to support evolving skills requirements among SysAdmins and to drive further opportunity in the cloud.  Azure is Microsoft’s flexible, open cloud platform that helps customers realize maximum value for their investments in the cloud.  Currently, approximately one in four virtual machines on Azure are Linux, and more than half of Azure Marketplace images are based on Linux, which creates a great deal of opportunity on the Open Source platform.

     

    It is critical to build a strong professional ecosystem that is ready for the cloud and cloud platforms that are open and flexible like Azure.  In today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world, developers and IT Professionals must stay current and proficient on continually evolving technologies across mobile, social business, cloud, and data sciences.  As this transformation continues in the modern workplace, companies rely on employees to be continuously learning and growing their skills in order to be successful. 

     

    This new certification combines Linux administration and Microsoft Azure implementation skills across designing, implementing, and maintaining complex Linux solutions that leverage Microsoft Azure’s extensive features and capabilities.  The Linux Foundation exams are performance-based and measure practical skills, which makes them a great partner for this combined certification. 

     

    Microsoft has a huge commitment to open source, to enable choice and help customers avoid vendor lock-in.  This certification is further proof of that commitment to enable customers to leverage the platforms they know and love, and to building relevant learning and skills validation for the modern workforce. 

     

    Alison Cunard, General Manager

    Microsoft Learning Experiences

     

    The registered trademark Linux® is used pursuant to a sublicense from The Linux Foundation, the exclusive licensee of Linus Torvalds, owner of the mark on a world-wide basis.

  • |

    Microsoft is pleased to announce the release of an MCSA: Windows 10 certification for IT professionals.

    This credential demonstrates expertise to configure, manage, and maintain a Windows 10 enterprise system. The new certification leverages the recently released Exam 697: Configuring Windows Devices, which helps Windows 8 administrators upgrade their skills to Windows 10.

    The initially offered path for earning the MCSA: Windows 10 certification is an upgrade path:

    An additional Windows 10 administration exam is currently planned for release in Spring 2016. This exam, when combined with Exam 697, will also earn the MCSA: Windows 10, providing a path to those Windows administrators who are new to certification. In the meantime, these individuals are recommended to start now with Exam 697.

    As the MCSA: Windows 8 credential is part of the path towards the new certification, MCSA: Windows 8, as well as all component exams (687, 688, 689, and 692) will remain active until July 31, 2016.

    The new MCSA: Windows 10 certification went live on Dec 14, 2015. For more details on the new certification, please visit the MCSA: Windows 10 web page.

  • Are you an expert in planning and designing cloud and hybrid identities and supporting identity infrastructure for managing devices? Do you have experience in desktop/devices administration, Windows networking technologies, Active Directory, and Intune? Do you work in a Device Support Technician or a Device System Administrator role? Most important, do you want to earn a certification saying that you really know how to plan and manage devises in enterprises? Of course, you do... here's your chance to start down the path to certification for free AND help us improve the quality of this exam!

    We are opening up 300 beta seats for this beta exam... This means you can take the exam for free!! BUT... the seats are limited to first come, first served basis--so, register today--and we need you take the exam as soon as possible so we can leverage your comments, feedback, and exam data in our evaluation of the quality of the questions. The sooner you take the exam, the more likely it is that we will be able to use your feedback to make improvements to the exam. This is your chance to have a voice in the questions we include on the exam when it goes live. 

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-398.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code BETA398MCP to take it for free. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

    Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

    Well...what are you waiting for? Register before all the seats are gone!

  • As technology changes, we add new exams and revise or retire older exams. Our goal is to provide at least 6 months notice prior to retirement to give you an opportunity to finish earning your certification. Note that both the exams and their planned retirement date are subject to change, and we encourage you to check the exam retirement page regularly for the latest information.

    Keep in mind that even if an exam that is part of a certification you earned is retired, your certification is still valid. When an exam you passed is retired, the exam record remains on your transcript. If you’re working toward a certification that includes one of the exams listed for retirement, please be sure to take the exam prior to the retirement date. Allow time for a retake if necessary.

    Here are the highlights and important updates/changes from what was previously announced:

    • Windows Client exams, 687 and 688, retirement dates have been extended to July 31, 2016. The associated MCSA will retire on January 31, 2016 as will the upgrade exams, 689 and 692. As previously announced, the MCSA: Windows 7 certification retires on November 30, 2015, but the associated exams will remain in market and earn a Specialist credential. To earn a Specialist credential on Windows 10, take 70-697!
    • The Lync exam retirement dates were extended to March 30, 2016. Exams on Skype will replace these exams and will be in beta soon. Stay tuned!
    • Microsoft Dynamics exams on CRM 2011 will retire on January 31, 2016.
    • The SharePoint 2010 developer and ITPro exams will retire on July 31, 2016.
    • The SQL Server 2008 upgrade exams will retire on January 31, 2016, while the remaining SQL 2008 exams will retire on July 31, 2016.
    • The remaining Visual Studio and .NET Framework 4 exams will retire on July 31, 2016.
    • Several MTA exams are retiring on July 31, 2016 as is 673.

    Want more details on retiring exams? Check the exam retirement page.

    If you have any questions about exam retirement, please contact your regional service center.

  • |

    This week Microsoft is shining a light on our commitment to education and the impact computer science skills can have on students of all ages. 

    Learning to code and Computer Science skills can open the door to world-changing possibilities for students at any level of ability.  Learning to code, and learning computer science goes beyond the subject, and helps students learn how to solve real-world problems.  Skills like problem-solving, creative and analytical thinking, collaboration, and entrepreneurship are actually the life-skills of the future for students.  At Microsoft, we believe all students should have access to a great education.  And a great education includes learning the level of computational thinking required to be competitive in today’s world. 

    Computational thinking is truly becoming fundamental to success, just like math and reading.

    The goal with Microsoft’s dedicated learning resources is to inspire students to explore the world of technology and equip educators with the tools they need to guide them along their journey.  All of these resources are designed to meet students at their ability level. Here are a few examples:

    At Imagine@MVA you can access many technical courses, from a single course to semester/year-long programs, including:

    • Creative Coding through Games and Apps:  an interactive class that lets young minds build their first game or app while solving real-world problems
    • CS50.AP for Computer Science Principles:  a year-long academic experience in partnership with Harvard that helps students write powerful algorithms and data structures, manage program resources and security, and learn the fundamentals of software engineering and web development

    When a student has validated their skills through an industry-recognized certification, it increases their college and career-readiness and employability.  Microsoft is helping students pick their path with a new site we’ve launched called Validate Student Skills, a destination providing critical information about the impact of certification.  These resources, along with a broad range of curriculum, tutorials, tools, and a community for educators to connect and collaborate can be found at Microsoft Imagine

    Almost every job requires some level of technical knowledge.  In fact, experts estimate that over three quarters of all jobs will require technology skills in the next few years.  Computer programming jobs are increasing at two times the national average.  While these jobs command high paying wages, today there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill these roles.  The demand is there – we just need to equip students with the right skills.

    At Microsoft, we have a company-wide commitment to help students gain access to technology so they can be more successful.  We want to help educators gain access to resources they need to learn and facilitate technology education at all levels in the classroom.  Our investments in education, our deep relationships with schools and universities, and our learning resources speak to our commitment.

    We’re both humbled and excited to have the chance to provide an opportunity for every student to take their own journey into the world of computer science.

  • |

    It’s time for the Microsoft Press round-up! Below you’ll find the latest information about promotions, new books, free ebooks, sample chapters, author videos, and other content from Microsoft Press. Enjoy!

    Featured Promotion

    Save 30% on Windows 10 books & eBooks

     

    Save 30% on new Windows 10 books and eBooks when you apply discount code WIN10 during checkout. Offer ends November 30, 2015. More details here.


    Featured New Book

    Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step, 8th Edition

    Your hands-on guide to Microsoft Visual C# fundamentals with Visual Studio 2015
    Expand your expertise--and teach yourself the fundamentals of programming with the latest version of Visual C# with Visual Studio 2015. If you are an experienced software developer, you’ll get all the guidance, exercises, and code you need to start building responsive, scalable Windows 10 and Universal Windows Platform applications with Visual C#.

    Discover how to:

    • Quickly start creating Visual C# code and projects with Visual Studio 2015

    • Work with variables, operators, expressions, and methods

    • Control program flow with decision and iteration statements

    • Build more robust apps with error, exception, and resource management

    • Master the essentials of Visual C# object-oriented programming

    • Use enumerations, structures, generics, collections, indexers, and other advanced features

    • Create in-memory data queries with LINQ query expressions

    • … and more!

    Learn more here.


    Featured Free eBook

    Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Machine Learning

    This free Microsoft Press eBook introduces Azure Machine Learning, a service that developers can use to build predictive analytics models (using training datasets from a variety of data sources) and then easily deploy those models for consumption as cloud web services. The eBook presents an overview of modern data science theory and principles, the associated workflow, and covers some of the more common machine learning algorithms in use today. Download the eBook

     

    Featured Sample Chapter

    How to Change the Appearance of a Workbook in Microsoft Excel 2016

    This chapter from Microsoft Excel 2016 Step by Step guides you through procedures related to changing the appearance of data, applying existing formats to data, making numbers easier to read, changing data’s appearance based on its value, and adding images to worksheets.

     

    Read the complete chapter here.

     


    Author Video

     

    Watch Ed Wilson—The Scripting Guy and author of Windows PowerShell Step by Step, Third Edition—speak about Data Grooming in this YouTube video.