• |

    MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure is retiring January 31, 2016. This retirement reflects the focus we’re putting on device and app management, such as in the skills validated in MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps.

    While there is crossover between the two tracks this is an important change in direction and emphasis for professionals working in this area. As the emphasis moves away from traditional desktop provisioning and management scenarios to multiple device types and application management, the underlying technologies that manage those devices and applications and the methodologies used are also undergoing change.

    Interested in going from MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure to MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps? You already have your MCSA: Server 2012 and just need to pass exams 695 and 696.

    If you’re starting from scratch, you can earn MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps either by having an underlying client certification (such as MCSA: Windows 8 or Specialist: Configuring Windows Devices, which is coming soon) or a server certification (MCSA: Windows Server 2012). For information on MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps, please see https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-devices-apps-certification.aspx.


    Do I still need to recertify my MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure to keep it even if it’s retiring?

    No. Because the certification is retiring, we have removed the recertification requirement.

    I just recertified my MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure, and now you’re retiring it?

    Technology changes can cause some exams and certifications to become less relevant. This is the case with MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure. However a good deal of these skills are still relevant and migrate over to this new track

    I was interested in getting an MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure. What should I do instead?

    You should pursue MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps. Please see https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-devices-apps-certification.aspx for more information.

  • Update: All of the vouchers have been claimed! Thanks for your interest and please keep checking back to Born To Learn. 


    Are you an expert in configuring Windows devices? Do you configure devices on a regular basis? Do you want to earn a specialization in this area without paying for it?!? 

    We are opening up 200 more seats for the 697: Configuring Windows Devices 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-70-697.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code 1010 to take it for freeRemember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone.

    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? 

  • |

    We know that you have real world experience in building apps, and hard decisions on how to spend your limited time and money for training and certification. So, why not simplify your life and get credit for those apps you’re building?

    On 1-Oct, elevate yourself by getting started on your Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification through a special streamlined path. With the two-part AppToCert DVLUP Challenge, developers can earn several rewards by showing Windows development work that you are already doing.

    In Part 1 of the Challenge, developers will submit a published Windows or Windows Phone App for evaluation against a list of technical criteria. When you pass, you will earn:

    • The DVLUP Windows App Builder Badge, to give you bragging rights within the Microsoft developer community. This badge is shareable via Twitter and Facebook.
    • 150 XP/PTS, redeemable for exciting merchandise and services.

    In Part 2 of the Challenge, developers will take and pass a single developer certification exam. When you do, you will earn:

    • A Microsoft Specialist: Programming in C# certification
    • An additional 350 XP/PTS


    For more details and to get started, visit:


  • |

    I’ll be posting this round-up twice a month. I’ll tell you about promotions, new books, free ebooks, sample chapters, author videos, and other content from Microsoft Press that you might be interested in seeing.

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  • As part of my effort to continue adding fun energy into the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) Program, I’m excited to let you know about some new MCP gear, including t-shirts, stickers, and laptop skins. These items will be available wherever we are doing onsite testing. In the coming months, we will release information about events in your area where you can get your hands on this new SWAG. The new MCP creative features an 8-bit theme, and we have shirts for both IT Pros and developers. 
    I also wanted to remind you about the MCP Profile which we announced in June. We have seen great participation so far with over 25,000 MCPs creating and sharing their profiles. I’ve had many conversations in the last couple of months with recruiters and hiring managers who are using this tool to find certified technical professionals to fill job openings. We will continue to make enhancements to the profile tool and promote it outside the MCP community to increase recognition of your credentials.

    As a reminder, the MCP Profile Page replaces the old "virtual business card" with a modern, customizable online destination. You can create your public profile to highlight your skills, but maintain your privacy with granular control over exactly how much info you share. The new MCP Profile Page integrates with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social media sites for one-click sharing of your Microsoft Certifications. Sharing your MCP Profile helps increase your visibility among employers and business prospects. Hiring managers can search and connect with you based on the region, technical specialty, and years of experience you enter into your MCP Profile. For more information about the MCP Profile, how to set one up, or to watch the announcement videos, go to my previous post from June.

    Ill have more exciting news to share on the MCP Program soon, so stay tuned. 

    Pat Thomas
    MCP Program Manager
  • |

    A while back we announced that Skype for Business exams are coming soon and that the Lync 2013 exams would retire in November. We’ve decided to remove the retirement date for now while we wait for the new Skype for Business exams to release. Once the exams release we’ll announce a new retirement date for Lync exams 335, 336, 337, and 338. The new retirement date will be at least eight weeks post the release of the new exams. We expect the Skype for Business exams to release in December 2015 or January 2016.

  • |

    UPDATE (10/05/15): To clarify, no MCSA: Windows 10 certification will be offered.  Specialist Exam 697 will fill the role of providing an associate-level credential.

    In early September, we released our first Windows 10 exam in beta – Exam 697 Configuring Windows Devices. Passing this exam will result in a Specialist certification, which will be the recommended pre-requisite for MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps. Please note there is much overlap between the Windows 8.1 exams and the Windows 10 exam and therefore the Windows 8.1 exams will retire on November 30, 2015.

    Keep checking the exam page for information about exam preparation materials for exam 697. And stay tuned for information about our upcoming Universal Windows Platform exams 354 and 355, which will release in beta in early October 2015.

    Please note: Although we sometimes offer free beta exam vouchers to registered subject matter experts, we are not currently offering them for the Windows 10 beta exams. To be considered for future beta exams, register here: http://aka.ms/MSLSME.

  • |

    “Passion” is a word that comes up often when talking with technology professionals. For Sondra Nelson, a Microsoft Certified Trainer, her passion isn’t just about the technology—it’s about learning the product, teaching the technology, and connecting with others in the community. How does being a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) fit into the picture? Sondra says:

    Being an MCP has changed my life in ways that make me excited about Microsoft, about the products, about wanting to learn new things all the time. It opens doors for me that I never would have had, had it not been for the MCP program. The MCP community is one of the most important things that I treasure.

    In this episode of “Lighting IT Up,” Sondra shared what her Microsoft certifications have meant to her career, what it’s like to be a woman in the technology field, and more―in her own words. 

    See more videos:

  • Amp up your Windows skills to 10!

    The “Know it. Prove it.” Challenge is back—this time, with a chance to win a backstage pass at Microsoft!

    Join the ranks of more than 3 million rockstar technologists who have enhanced their skills with courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy. This round is all about development and management tools for Windows 10, each challenge designed to help accelerate your skills and career opportunities:

    • Developers: Learn how to create amazing apps on devices running Windows 10.
    • IT Professionals: Discover how to manage Windows 10 in a mobile workforce, across devices and the cloud.
    • Students: New to technology? Learn programming basics by creating a real game or app in a real software development environment.

    You’re going places. Microsoft could be one of them.

    Complete the challenge before October 15, 2015, for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes visit to the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington—an all-inclusive prize package including air travel, hotel accommodations, and a two-day VIP insider tour. (See official terms and conditions at http://aka.ms/kipirules.)

    Ready to go? Get started in 3 steps:

    1)      Accept the challenge—click here to get started.

    2)      Add a Windows 10 Challenge to your MVA Learning Plan:

    • Developer track: “A Developer’s Guide to Windows 10”
    • IT Professional track: “Getting Started with Windows 10 for IT Pros”
    • Student track: “Introduction to Programming with Python"

    3)      Share your success for a chance to win! Post your course completion certificate to Twitter using the #RockedIt hashtag to enter the Microsoft Backstage Pass Sweepstakes.

    Good luck, and rock on!

    Official terms and conditions: http://aka.ms/kipirules

  • |

    I’ll be posting this round-up twice a month. I’ll tell you about promotions, new books, free ebooks, sample chapters, author videos, and other content from Microsoft Press that you might be interested in seeing.

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    Featured Sample Chapter

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    • Windows PowerShell remoting
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    Check out the video and resources on the TechNet Radio site.

  • Unfortunately, today, Friday, was my last day as a Microsoft High School Intern and as a member of the Learning Experiences (LeX) team. You know what they say— all good things must come to an end. My last week with the team was a bit crazy and sad. Nevertheless, we had lots of fun.

    Even though it was my last week, I still had a very cool project to work on—it was a subway map for Harvard’s CS50 course. And my job was to go through their syllabus, find all their topics, and write descriptions for all of them. I then created an HTML page to see how the subway map design would look with all the descriptions in it. I had about three days to finish the project since I had other events to attend, and I was afraid that I was not going to finish. Surprisingly enough, I managed to finish exactly within my time frame! It also turns out that my coworker really liked the subway map, so I’m feeling excited to see how far the team will take this project. 

    On Wednesday, I had an “iUrban Teens” event. There were about 60 students, ages 13-18, and our goals were to expose them to technology, show them about Microsoft, and talk a little about our experience as high school interns. We split all the students into four groups and rotated around three different places: The garage, The Envisioning Center and Microsoft’s conference building. We also got to talk over Skype with a couple of important people from Microsoft, the White House, and even from the Grey’s Anatomy TV series. The students showed a lot of interest and excitement throughout the day, which means that the event was a success.

    On Thursday, I had to film my Real Reelz—and that was pretty crazy! Basically the Real Reelz are like the videos we post on YouTube but longer and a bit more informative. Everything went well except the preparation in order to start the filming process. It turns out that the lights where really bright which caused my glasses to have too much glare, so I ended up wearing my co-worker’s glasses, which physically look the same but are actually very different. The lenses on them made it hard for me to match my answers to what my eyes were seeing. By the end of the session I was dizzy, and somehow, I ended up getting a really nice office-chair ride from my manager.

    Also on Thursday, I had to give a presentation to all of the interns outlining our experience with our team and talking a little about the projects we got to work on. At first, I was not nervous to present because I was excited to share my summer with the interns, but right before it was my turn, I had a panic attack—not really, but I was pretty nervous. There were so many ideas running through my head that I couldn’t think straight. So, if you ask me, I didn’t really execute my presentation the way I wanted to.

    And, finally, today, Friday, was a really hard day for me especially. I shot my final video (which, by the way, was really long and hard thanks to the fact that I couldn’t process all the questions properly); I had to finish the CS50 subway map; and I had to say goodbye to some of the interns I hung out with, along with my whole team. And I had to thank them for making my summer the best summer anyone could have at work…because we all know that working can get pretty intense and stressful. By the end of my day, I couldn’t express how thankful I was for all the on-the-job experience the team gave me. As a matter of fact, I left a little something in the office that will, perhaps, express my gratitude towards the team.

    To end my blog, I highly encourage and recommend that everyone get an internship, because you will experience so much about the real world, and learn things that school does not teach you. Overall, it will prepare you for a better future. For now, it has been an honor and pleasure to share my experiences with everyone as a Microsoft High School Intern… and I’ll be back. 


    Senior Software Architect Markku Jaatinen has been working in the IT world for a long time. With years of hands-on experience with technologies and several certifications under his belt, what more is there to learn? Why would he need to take more exams? For Markku, continued advancement in his career is important, and taking exams keeps his skills up to date and helps him stay motivated. He explains: 

    There are a number of things that really drive me to earn certifications. I think, interestingly enough, one of the reasons is to get me motivated. Because the thing is—if you are trying to learn new things—you sometimes need a little driver to do things, so if you are just studying, you aren’t studying properly enough. But if you are going to an exam, you really have to take your time and get to know what you are trying to do, and it helps you in a way, and that's the end result.

    Hear from Markku as he explains what technical certifications have meant for his career, his thoughts on Microsoft training options, and much more in this short video.


    See more videos:

  • By Max

    Well, it’s my fourth week on campus, and the end of my Microsoft internship is right around the corner. Sadly, this Friday was Quinn’s last day. And just watching him leave, I started to feel emotional about my upcoming last day. I still have one more week left to enjoy every moment and prepare myself mentally for heading back to school.

    This week, Quinn and I continued to work on the subway map project, which, by the way, we couldn’t finish—we ran out of time. That said, we fixed tons of bugs and made huge progress, given the short timeframe we had to work on the project. And I am so glad I was given the opportunity to work on the project, because I was able to learn Bootstrap and AngularJS. These two languages will be a huge help to my future with computer science. And on the bright side, we managed to get pretty far on the project and give something back to the team that they can take and implement.

    I was just given a new project to work on during my last week: Subway Map for CS50. I’ll be working on the visuals with HTML, but more details are to come next week. I am really excited about this project and think I can definitely tackle it in a week.

    On Tuesday I had the opportunity to present to the leadership team here at Learning Experiences (LeX). There were approximately 15 people in the room, and I was excited to tell them a little bit about myself and share all the work I’ve done here at Microsoft. Honestly, at first I was a bit nervous because I was presenting to a group of people that is very important to the whole team, but overall I think I managed to deliver a really strong presentation.

    On Thursday I had lots of fun. My manager Briana created an event for the team called “Noodle Land Spice Challenge—Intern Edition”. From the title, you can probably tell it was a competition. I and two of my co-workers had to order the spiciest Thai food possible and see who could best handle the heat! Quinn and Briana judged the competition because they aren’t fans of super spicy food. At first, it was a bit intimidating because it was a “challenge”, and you know how the word “challenge” makes everything more exciting—but it turned out to be really fun. The food really wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. And the winner was the last person I expected: he sweated the most and finished his entire plate!

    Overall this week there were not a lot of new things to do. Quinn and I mainly focused on finishing our projects and getting prepared for next week’s events. Something I have not mentioned is the fact that the whole team is being relocated to another building which is closer to main campus. It is a bit exciting to experience the whole moving process at work, but right now I have to pack my things and get ready to go. I’m starting to think next week is going to be hectic! But we’ll see how it goes.


    By Quinn

    This was my last week here at Microsoft. I am leaving for MIT in Boston to study Computer Engineering. I have been working on the Microsoft validation path diagram editor this entire week, as well as part of last week. I have been trying to get as much done before the end of my internship, but I have hit many bumps and obstacles. Things just don’t work out sometimes and you don’t know why. However, if my experiences with programming have taught me anything, it’s that no project comes without problems, and the only way you are going to accomplish anything is by taking on the challenges you encounter. What irritates me about my current project, though, is that I am leaving for school, and so I do not have time to keep churning away on this project and to overcome all of the obstacles I have encountered. I will not finish the project. And this does not sit well with me. Yet I am not completely dissatisfied, because during my time here at Microsoft I have met some amazingly forward-thinking, innovative, and determined people, so I am confident that this validation path diagram editor will be completed and released successfully. And I know that I can leave for college knowing that I made valuable contributions to the project.

    Despite not being able to finish this last project with the Microsoft Learning Team, I have had an incredibly productive internship. On Tuesday this week, I had the opportunity to present my achievements from the summer to the Microsoft Learning leadership team and I got to listen to the other interns present their work as well. The thought of presenting to the most important people in the organization intimidated me slightly beforehand, but once I started presenting, I realized that they’re just people! They listened to what I had to say, were proud of the projects I had completed, and were eager to implement my work in a manner that would benefit Microsoft and the world of technical education. I was excited to hear that my work as a high school intern would actually make a difference.

    But Microsoft is not just a place of work—it is also a place of fun. For lunch the last two days, I have gone out with a few of my coworkers. On Wednesday, we went to a restaurant called Pomegranate. When the waitress came to our table, she looked at my manager (who is 30 years old but doesn’t look it), and then at me (who not too often finds himself being mistaken for an upperclassmen in college), and made a comment about how we were such a cute married couple. Laughing hysterically, our lunch party clarified that we were not, in fact, married, nor were we even remotely close in age. That was a fun meal, as was lunch the next day when a few of my coworkers challenged my fellow intern, Max, to a spicy food eating competition. The winner of this competition ended the meal sweating so much that anyone would have guessed he had just finished running a marathon in a sauna. The loser walked out of the restaurant with a to-go box that was only a few bites lighter than the plate that had been brought out to her before the competition. However, I can’t really judge because I cannot handle spicy food.

    And now, having finished my last day, I look back on my summer wondering how it went by so fast. I have learned a lot this summer and made amazing memories along the way. I will cherish my time here at Microsoft, and when I arrive in Boston, I plan to send a few emails to the Microsoft MIT recruiter asking about how I can get back to Microsoft next year. 

  • |

    For Joshua Walters, establishing trust with customers early is vital to the success of his business. As an IT Consultant, his clients need to know that he has the technical knowledge and expertise to bring the best recommendations and successfully complete projects. How does Joshua build trust with his clients? One of the most important ways is by earning Microsoft Certifications and keeping them current. He says:

    [Microsoft Certifications have] benefited me because when I work with my customers, I'm expected to be their trusted advisor, and having those certifications gives them that confidence that I understand what I'm there to do.

    In this short video, hear what Joshua has to say about Microsoft’s certification program, training resources, and how they have contributed to his professional success.

    See more videos:

  • By Max

    My third week with the Learning Experiences (LeX) team was very short because I travelled to California for college visits on Friday. Nevertheless, I still had some work to do during the days I was in the office. As mentioned before, Quinn and I finished our first project and have now begun work on the next one.

    The project we are working on now requires a lot more code and is very technical. As of right now, this is probably the most challenging project I’ve worked on. As a simple overview of the project, we have to create a web tool that allows users to enter data into an XML file. At first it might seem pretty basic, but we have to learn how to use Bootstrap and AngularJS in order to fully understand the process and get a better sense of how we will perform our task. My week mainly consisted of watching online tutorials and getting more familiar with Bootstrap and AngularJS. I think the biggest challenge is going to be finishing this project before the deadline. We have to learn a whole new concept, and then carry out a big project. For me this is a valuable experience because I am getting to learn new concepts that I’ll be able to use in the future.

    On Tuesday there was an event for high school students. They had to create their own game using code and TouchDevelop. I was not in charge of the event, but since I like helping others in an area that I love, I thought it would be great to help out for a couple of hours. This event was going to last a whole week, but unfortunately due to time and work constraints, I was not able to participate every day. On the only day I was able to go, the students were introduced to TouchDevelop and Minecraft. We went through the basics to prepare them for the project they were going to work on. Overall, the day went pretty smoothly. I hope we keep doing more events like these because I have lots of fun helping others.

    On Thursday I went to a “Career Afternoon” talk featuring a couple of former college interns and some full-time employees. This was a great opportunity for all of us high school interns to ask any type of question we had regarding our careers and what to do after the internship. It was helpful because we got a lot of different perspective about how to approach the college application process and different job opportunities. Afterwards, we filled out a personality style form where we were able to see what our personality was like, and see how we solved a problem with other people with the same personality. It turns out I have a pretty balanced personality but lean more towards the analytical side, and I think it was an accurate assessment. By the end of the session, I noticed that depending on our personality, we actually approach issues with different methods and thinking processes. It was an eye-opening and fun exercise.

    The highlight of my week was lunch with my manager—not many people can say that. For the first time since my arrival at LeX, Quinn and I were able to have lunch with our manager, Briana. It was fun because she took us to a place we’d never heard of or seen before. It was called Taco Time, a local restaurant chain, and honestly it wasn’t bad. It was actually pretty good. I think having lunch with people from your team is a great way to learn more about them. These are the type of sessions that lead you to have better relationships, and perhaps lead to better communication, which by the way is an extremely important factor when working in a big company like Microsoft.


    By Quinn

    With the start of a new week comes a start of a new project. Max and I just finished up with the CS50 wiki project in which we took all the course material and curriculum from Harvard’s CS50 course (Harvard’s largest—and most popular!—class offered), consolidated it all into a wiki page organized by lesson module, and made our work available for Microsoft to implement for an adaptation of the course for high school students and teachers in classrooms around the world. The course wiki we have prepared has been submitted and is now being reviewed by Harvard’s staff.

    Now that we have wrapped the CS50 project, Max and I are moving onto a new project. In our next project we’ll work with tree-like diagrams (which resemble subway maps) that are used by the Microsoft Validation Team to lay out the steps required in getting a particular certification. These diagrams are rendered from some fairly complicated XML files. What Max and I are doing is creating a web application that can produce and the edit these XML files using a friendly user interface. When we are done, the goal is that anybody can create a validation path diagram regardless of their proficiency in XML. The Validation Team will then utilize this application to create new validation paths and keep existing paths up to date.

    This new project is not an easy task, however. The type of dynamic web-based application that we need to create will be built with HTML and styled with CSS, both of which I am quite familiar with, but it will be programmed and controlled by AngularJS, a language that I have never even heard about before this project. This week, my goal has been to learn AngularJS and start to structure the foundation of the web application. I have been moderately successful. AngularJS is an extension of JavaScript, which I have used a few times for simple event handling, but when you are trying to create objects and more complicated data structures with this function-based dynamic programming language instead of the object-orientated programming languages that I am used to (such as Java and C#), it gets hard. I have hit road blocks and gotten very confused at times, but as I keep persisting, I can see this project start to unfold.

    Between learning AngularJS and programming this web app, however, I have been helping to run a programming boot camp for high school students throughout the week. As these are older kids, they need less teaching than the younger kids did, so we had one session of Minecraft modding tutorials and one session of micro:bit tutorials. Once they finished those tutorials, we gave them a few days to develop their own mods and programs. Kids were creating automatic house builders, simplified Galaga and Guitar Hero games, and magic carpets. At the end of the week, we awarded the best program with an Xbox One.

    Now I’m getting ready to move on to my last week here at Microsoft. Next week, I will be presenting to the Learning Experiences Leadership Team and to the High School Internship Coordinators. I have been preparing my presentations and am eager to show what I have done with my summer at Microsoft.

  • |

    For many young professionals, finding ways to get ahead in their career while adding value to their team is a top priority. This definitely holds true for Joe Harkins, a St. Louis-based Database Administrator we met at Ignite 2015.

    While in Chicago, we met Joe at Certification Central right after he earned his Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) Certification. For him, walking away from the conference with proof that he is dedicated to furthering his career was important. He explains:

    Jobwise, I would definitely like to have something to take back and say that I want to further my career and I want to take a few steps forward on what I'm working on. So far Microsoft's helped me achieve that plenty.

    Get to know Joe as he shares his thoughts on the value of Microsoft Certifications, why he will be championing them in his office, and more in this short interview.

    See how other IT professionals are lighting up their career with Microsoft Certifications:

  • On August 4, I had the distinct pleasure of giving the keynote address at TechMentor. Greg Shields and I took a different approach to the keynote—it wasn’t a presentation but a fireside chat--complete with a roaring fire (video-based, of course) where he and the audience asked me questions about Microsoft’s certification and learning program. It was an awesome experience that I hope the attendees enjoyed as much as I did!

    Missed it? Here’s a high level view of the our conversation which focused on Microsoft's efforts to modernize skills validation and make it more relevant and valuable to technical audiences and employers. As our industry is changing so are the ways technical professionals want to learn and prove their skills.

    We started the conversation with an overview of the exam development process and how IT professionals and developers could become involved in that process (hint: add your profile to our SME database--http://aka.ms/MSLSME and don't forget to update it as Microsoft releases new products!). From there, we opened up the conversation to questions from the attendees. They were particularly interested in badging because it has the potential to highlight skills in a different way than certification, and badges could be easier to attain, paving a smoother road to certification.

    We also discussed why people were interested in certification and why they were not. A common complaint is that candidates want to demonstrate competence with hands on/performance-based methodologies, not with multiple choice questions. This led to how we might certify "work products." Is there a way to grant a certification for something that you're already doing? In the developer space, this is relatively easy--see the CertToApp program for an example. With the right resources and support, we could expand this to other developer "products." The IT Pro space is a tougher nut to crack, so I asked the audience for ideas on how we might take the idea of what we're doing with CertToApp and apply it to the ITPro audience. They offered some great suggestions, such as having someone submit their design specs for building a system/process to pre-specified requirements or even submitting the design spec for a system they have created or implemented (e.g., building a server and adding the features and rolls specified by Microsoft or needed for your organization's implementation). By the way, if you have ideas, I would love to hear them.

    My favorite part of the conversation, though, was reminding attendees that we value their feedback. Leave comments when you take exams, escalate issues or concerns that you have about exam questions--see https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/certification-exam-policies.aspx for more details, and complete the Exam Satisfaction survey when you receive the invite from ComScore, our survey vendor. We carefully review all of this information to make improvements that (I hope) result in the highest quality exam and experience. There's no such thing as a perfect exam; we don't always know when there is an issue, and we need your help to tell us if something doesn't seem right. If all else fails, email me...seriously.

    We also spent some time talking about the crazy ideas that I have to shake up the world of certification. Some are on Microsoft Learning's radar, but others are dreams that I have on how we might revolutionize certification as we know it today... More on that in a future blog if you're interested. Let me know in your comments.

    I really enjoyed this conversation and am always looking for more opportunities to answer your questions. Ask away!!

    Photo credit: Douglas DeCamp

  • |

    I’ll be posting this round-up twice a month. I’ll tell you about promotions, new books, free eBooks, sample chapters, author videos, and other content from Microsoft Press that you might be interested in seeing.

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  • By Quinn

    My second week with the Learning Experiences (LeX) team was spent hard at work. All week long, my fellow intern and I grinded away on our CS50 wiki project. We took all the course material and curriculum from Harvard’s CS50 course (Harvard’s largest—and most popular!—class offered), consolidated it all into a wiki page organized by lesson module, and made our work available for Microsoft to implement for an adaptation of the course for high school students and teachers in classrooms around the world. We finally finished watching the hours of lecture recordings, sections videos, and topic shorts and published our wiki at the end of the week. I am eager to start work on our new project, which will involve creating a user interface that will render XML code, allowing people on the Microsoft Validation Team to create lesson track diagrams (which we call subway maps) without having to go through the hassle of typing up all the XML by hand.

    Despite being heads down on projects, I did, however, get a few breaks from working on the CS50 project. On Thursday, the high school internship coordinators were able to get us access to the Microsoft Envisioning Center, a section of the Executive Briefing Center on campus in which Microsoft shows off all the technology that it is currently researching to potential corporate partners. This center gives a live demonstration of what Microsoft’s plans are for the future, and how they plan to implement technology to improve daily life in the next decade.

    In addition to seeing firsthand where the company is headed in the future, I was able to help teach the programmers of tomorrow during an Introduction to Minecraft Modding session. In this course, Aidan Brady, one of my fellow interns, led a class of around 30 kids (ranging from ages 10–18) in the creation of their first mod. As Aidan presented, I was able to go around and help the kids one-on-one, making sure that they knew what exactly Aidan was showing them and how they could implement this new information in their own Minecraft mod. This was Aidan’s first time organizing an event like this and he did a great job, though he would occasionally lose the kids (and also one of our fellow interns Ben) through his use of technical words such as IDE, parse, and render, yet I could not have done a better job myself. All the kids ended the night with a flash drive full of new mods they had created. Some kids made pepperoni pizza, which they could feed to their wolves in the game, and others made blocks that launched their avatar 50 feet across the Minecraft world. Personally, I ended the night realizing how fulfilling it was giving kids the tools to create their own worlds, to dream, and to innovate.

    Before this event, I would never have thought about working with kids in my career, but now after my second week with LeX, I realize how fulfilling such a job can be.


    By Max

    I’ve finished my second week with the Learning Experiences team (LeX), and it seemed a little slower than usual. I think the reason is because of everything that went on last week. But apart from that, it was a successful week with a couple more awesome events.

    On Monday, I was introduced to two new projects. The first includes learning how to use new programs, such as Bootstrap and Angular. Quinn and I are in charge of creating a tool and a user interface (UI) that produces XML. In other words, a UI that allows the authors to create and edit using this specific tool. There are still more details to come within the next few weeks, but our main priority and focus this past week was to finish Harvard’s CS50 wiki page. We started working on it during the middle of last week because we had all the events going on, and today (Friday) I am proud to say that we have successfully completed our first major project with the LeX team. Finishing a project and being recognized for my work is such a great feeling and it motivates me to keep moving forward. Another project I might be working on is Creative Coding Games and Apps (CCGA). In this project, I have to create an app or a game, and then film tutorials on how I made the app or game. Although this project sounds like a lot fun, it’ll be a challenge to complete this one since time is very limited. But who knows? Anything can happen in three weeks.

    Thursday was the day I couldn’t wait for. The high school interns got a tour of the Microsoft Envisioning Center. The Envisioning Center is a place where visitors can go and experience conceptual prototypes that will transform the way we live, work, and play. It is basically Microsoft’s vision of the future. And just in case you didn’t know, I love getting to see things that will shape the future and watch how it all comes to life. The tour was divided into two groups, one which started at noon and the other at 1:00 P.M. My group started at noon, so we all gathered at around 11:40 A.M. in the building lobby and chatted about projects we were working on. It was great to see everyone reunited again. Well, the Envisioning Center did not disappoint. It was astonishing, innovative, eye-opening, and every other word that describes a mind-blowing experience! Everything we got to see was out of this world—things you’d probably never imagine. That, my friends, is the power of technology, and it is important to note that it will change the way we as humans interact with our surroundings. Ever imagine how the world will look five or ten years from now? Things will never be the same.

    On Thursday evening, Aidan Brady, a fellow intern, hosted a Minecraft modding tutorial session with my manager, Briana, and a few other interns, including Quinn and Ben. The whole tutorial was run by Aidan, and the students learned how to create their first mod for the game. Our job was to assist the students with any issues they had. I’ve personally never played Minecraft (I know…embarrassing), but it was very interesting to see the possibilities of Minecraft with just a few lines of code. After being in that session, I think I’ll probably be playing a little bit of Minecraft myself. Most of the students were going crazy (in a good way) as most of them were hardcore Minecraft fans. Seeing the look on their faces when they created something new was rewarding because those are the moments when you know that you have started to make a difference.

    Today (Friday) was a pretty sad day. Being an intern is not only about working—it’s also about building relationships not only with the people you work with directly but with whoever you meet along the way. This summer I got to meet a pretty unique person, Aidan Brady, and today was his last day as an intern at Microsoft. He’s responsible for a lot of things at Microsoft, but he is known for his passion for Minecraft. A passion so strong that he created a program to introduce others to Minecraft modding, which was a huge success. I consider myself very fortunate to have him as an “intern friend” along with others who are not leaving yet. Since it was Aidan’s last day, several of us interns decided to have a small reunion and enjoy the day together. We had lots of fun and told each other we will definitely meet again someday as we have some of the same top two university choices—Berkeley and Stanford—in mind for our future!

  • |


    Hayden Brown has a lot to think about. That’s because in his role as an Enterprise Architect, it’s his job to determine what brings business value to his company. No easy task.

    Add to this that it’s important for him to also be an expert in technologies, earning Microsoft Certifications made a lot of sense. He says:  

    Becoming an authority in knowing these technologies and understanding what these technologies can do for our company is extremely valuable.

    In this short video, get to know Hayden as he explains why he’s excited to be the first in his company to get certified, what he thinks about the training provided by Microsoft and more.

    See more Lighting IT up videos:

  • |

    The technology industry is growing at an electric pace. Code.org estimate that in just a few years, in the US alone, we’re going to be short by one million jobs. Other estimates show we’re headed to a three million shortage worldwide. And while we see three out of every five science-based jobs are in computing, only one in fifty students will enter into computer science fields of study. That’s not even factoring in all the other industries that are increasingly reliant on technology. Sports, fashion, auto, medical, and more. All need technology to be successful in today’s world.

    At Microsoft, we’re all-in helping young people get excited about technology and the possibilities; to help showcase the opportunities they have if they enter the world of computer science, and to give them easy access to the resources they need to get skilled up in coding and technology.

    We already provide great tools, resources and content for institutions and educators to be able to teach and get skilled themselves through services like IT Academy and Microsoft Innovative Educator. We also offer ways for students and educators to showcase their technical skills to employers through certifications.

    We have a solid track record for students, particularly those who have already chosen the technical path. Imagine Cup is Microsoft’s premier technical competition for students and ImagineAccess gives them access to software at no cost.

    With the launch of Microsoft Imagine last year, we created a destination for students who express interest in technology.

    Now, we’re proud to announce the launch of Imagine@MVA, an innovative destination for students to explore the world of coding, giving them the first steps in going beyond an interest and trying their hand at creating apps, games and technology solutions for themselves.

    Imagine@MVA is a specialized portal built inside Microsoft Virtual Academy, a leading online video learning platform. It helps students understand what computer science is, and how they can build their own projects. Whether it be a mobile app, or an awesome web site, or a super creative game, Imagine@MVA has courses and resources to help them get started.

    Imagine@MVA is also for educators, giving them curriculum, hands-on learning and teaching components that can be used to create an engaging environment for their classes, and teach valuable skills in problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration and entrepreneurship.

    The portal has four primary areas, each with a multitude of courses and associated material:

    • Learn to Code – the main starting point for students wanting to explore the world of coding. The courses are introductory and specifically targeted at programming and creating apps and games.
    • Reign in the Cloud – the current state of the modern technology industry means that understanding the cloud is crucial. So, we’ve gathered together some great beginner courses for students to get started with the cloud.
    • Validate your skills – helping students feel confident in their skills is an important step in guiding them into the industry once they’ve completed their education. This section of Imagine@MVA helps them review their skills and prepare to sit Microsoft Technology Associate exams, our technology fundamental series of certifications.
    • Educator Resources – resources for teachers to both prepare for teaching technology in the classroom and using Microsoft technology to be more effective in their teaching methodologies.

    We’re incredibly excited about this new entry in the Imagine family of services, all designed to work together to guide students into the world of technology, then give them the skills and reinforcement to excel in it. Imagine@MVA is available today, with a large number of courses and assets ready to use and more to come.

    Head to http://aka.ms/imagineatmva and check it out!

  • |

    In April 2015, Larry Kaye announced recertification through MVA for MCSE Data Platform and MCSE Business Intelligence. I’m happy to announce that we now have this option for MCSE Communication, MCSE Messaging, and MCSE SharePoint. 

    Recertifying  with Microsoft Virtual Academy provides a great way to maintain your current skills and to catch up on advances in your area of expertise, all on your own schedule.

    You can recertify by completing these three steps:

    1. Select the available skills path for your expiring certification.
    2. Pass all of the assessments for each Microsoft Virtual Academy course in the selected path.
    3. Let us know when you've completed your studies, and once we verify your completed activities we'll update your transcript.

    Please note that this option applies to recertification only.  Individuals seeking MCSE certification must still pass a series of robust, proctored exams.

    To learn more about this recertification option, click here.

  • By Max

    Where to even begin. It’s been six weeks since I started my internship, and I still can’t believe I’m here—and neither can my family! Getting this internship has been a life-changer. Something I’ve come to learn and appreciate about Microsoft and its culture in just weeks is that what makes Microsoft so unique is the fact that it’s not all about being smart, but about the way you think and how creative you are. I believe that, and it’s one of the main reasons I’m here.

    I recently moved from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) team over to Learning Experiences (LEX,) and I have to say that the transition was not easy because the teams are so different. With OEM, I job shadowed a lot and helped prepare the team for the Windows 10 launch. I was able to set up one-on-one sessions with people from different teams, which gave me the opportunity to build connections. With the LeX team, things have been different. On my first day, I met most of the team members and got an amazing project to work on, which consists of creating and organizing a wiki page for Harvard’s CS50 course. As someone who just started learning computer science, this is a great opportunity as it allows me to work and learn at the same time. I’ve had to watch videos and link them with corresponding topics, and while doing so, I have been able to reinforce what I know and learn new topics about computer science.

    On Tuesday I had some unfinished business with the OEM team. I set up and staffed the S4 Knowledge Fair, an event for companies such as HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Asus to come together and display their products to retailers. I was in charge of HP’s booth, and along with four other interns our role was to answer any questions a buyer might have regarding HP products. At first it was a bit nerve-racking because we were the only team with interns, and the competition was pretty intense. It was up to us, the interns, to sell a product and present a strong, positive image for both HP and Microsoft. We started feeling comfortable and learned that by the end of the day we actually sold something!

    Throughout this past week, Microsoft had an event called Oneweek. During Oneweek, Microsoft hosts a company-wide hackathon, expo, Q&A with Satya Nadella, and a huge celebration. In the expo there were a lot of products being displayed from different teams, like Xbox, Bing, Windows, and more. I was able to check out their latest devices, software, and games. My personal favorite was the Xbox team. Not only could you play games, you could also learn about the internal components of the Xbox and its accessories, and new devices like the upcoming gaming controller were on display. Oh! And how could I forget, tons of free stuff at every booth, varying from shirts to portable chargers. By the end of the day, I had a bag full of goodies. 

    The Imagine Cup was another event happening on campus this week. It is a global technology competition that provides opportunities for students across all disciplines to team up and create applications and games, and to integrate solutions that can change the way we live, work, and play. I was really excited to go to this event because not only were the students going to showcase their projects, but they were also going to demo them. As soon as I arrived, I was blown away by all the creativity. Every project was so unique and innovative. Time flew by that day and I ended up leaving Microsoft at 8:30 P.M., and although I left very late, I was so energized. I had met so many talented students who wanted to make a difference and empower people to do more. It was a truly inspirational day and a great way to learn about the possibilities that surround us.

    As part of the Imagine Cup, Microsoft hosted an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people learning to code in one day. It was insane! There were thousands of people of different ages taking part in this important event. As a matter a fact, even I was able to participate. I didn’t know if we were going to be able to break the record because space seemed limited, but as time went by more and more people were filling up the rooms and more computers were being brought. By the end of the session, we had done it.  Microsoft had officially broken the record, and I am proud to say that I took part in it.

    The top highlight of this week for me, hands down, was the Imagine Cup finals. All I can say is—stunning! Every second of it. The energy in the room was like nothing I’ve felt before. I had goosebumps throughout the entire event. I got a front row seat with the other interns. The finals began with staff throwing signed shirts, then there was a dance crew who battled each other in a dance-off, and before the ceremony began there was a DJ. The most exciting part was getting to see important figures like Alex Kipman (HoloLens), Jens Bergensten (Minecraft), Thomas Middleditch (HBO Show Silicon Valley), and Satya Nadella. Overall my first week with LeX was a blast. I can’t wait for what comes next.


    By Quinn

    Before I began my internship with Microsoft, I had believed all the company did was code products. Type a few lines of code and bam, you have Halo; a couple more and bam, you have Windows. However, as I now wrap up my sixth week here at Microsoft, I know this assumption was a sad understatement of the vast array of projects that take place in this company.

    During my time with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) team, I helped prepare for the launch of Windows 10 through the implementation of the new operating system  on to-be-released devices for testing and demo purposes. Once we confirmed that the software integration was sufficiently debugged, we distributed these devices, along with other resources, for use at launch events around the world. The launch was a tremendous success being reported as, “Well executed… From an HP perspective, good placement of key HP products in the different experience areas! We [regional teams] appreciate the support! Looking forward to a great ramp up with Windows 10!” And finally, this last week, I wrapped up my time with OEM by teaching worldwide (WW) sales vendors about new products to aid in WW sales efforts during the S4 Conference and Knowledge Fair. In conclusion, working with the group that helped to design and sell devices that would host Microsoft software revealed to me how active Microsoft was in ensuring a superb user experience in all aspects of technology.

    And now after my first week with the Learning Experiences (LeX) team, I find my original stereotype of a Microsoft based solely on coding shattered yet again. As my first assignment, the team has me working with Harvard’s CS50 course—a class that teaches computer science and coding basics. My project is to take all the course material made available for CS50 students, such as lecture video, informational shorts, and section work, consolidate it all by topic, and then make it available on a wiki page so that Microsoft can use these resources to put on boot camps, high school coding programs, and teacher course guides. As we finish up with this project, I am eager to watch it get implemented and to see its effect on students and teachers.

    It was not only in the office, however, that I was amazed by what Microsoft was doing this week. Going on in the middle of campus this week were the Oneweek celebrations where Windows 10 and all its features were exhibited. I received tons of free swag—including t-shirts, water bottles, and chocolate—as I got the opportunity to test out the new features of Windows 10, Xbox, and Azure. There was even a booth where I blended my own smoothie using a bicycle.

    On the other side of campus were the local hackathon tents. In the annual Microsoft hackathon, thousands of employees, not only from the Redmond Campus but from all around the world, teamed up and built programs, technology, and solutions to solve problems in our world. Two football-field-sized tents housed these hacker teams as they coded for three straight days while lounging in bean bags, surrounded by bottles of soda and pizzas.

    But then for non-Microsoft employees, there was the Imagine Cup, a global student technology program and competition that provides opportunities for students across all disciplines to team up and use their creativity, passion, and knowledge of technology to create applications and games, and to integrate solutions that can change the way we live, work, and play. The Imagine Cup had already been going on for close to a year now, but I had the opportunity to attend the Championship ceremonies, which were hosted right here in Seattle. Winners were announced in each of the three categories: gaming, innovation, and world citizenship. Then the all-around winner was announced. There were thousands of people in attendance to watch the team eFitFasion—the innovation category winners who developed algorithms to produce custom-tailored clothes for anybody—be crowned the Imagine Cup Champions by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella (who sported a very epic ninja cat t-shirt). There were more people at this event than I have ever seen in a single room before, and I was still able to snatch up seats in the eighth row from the front.

    I was blown away by the innovation taking place at all of these events and by the ever-present dedication to make the world a better place through technology.

  • Earning a Microsoft Certification is an effective way to validate your technical knowledge. It also provides hiring managers and recruiters a clear way to recognize the skills and experience you bring to a team or project. But does being an MCP mean more exposure and opportunities?

    Brett Hagen, a Systems Engineer from Davenport, Iowa, has this to say about what being certified does for him: 

    Your cert will give you a window into the vaster world of Microsoft. It opens doors to networking opportunities and events. There’s so much more you can do as an MCP that will broaden your experience in IT.

    Get to know Brett as he explains how he’s lighting IT up with his Microsoft Certifications in this short video

  • |

    Want to be inspired, humbled and excited all at the same time? I’ve got an easy way for you to do just that. Imagine Cup is the Microsoft’s premier technology competition for students and runs worldwide. Tens of thousands of college and university students from more than one hundred countries enter multiple challenges across the year. And it all culminates with the Imagine Cup World Finals, this year held in Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

    Starting on July 27, 33 finalist teams arrived in sunny Seattle, bleary eyed but hyped up on adrenaline and the realization that they were only hours away from the biggest moment of their lives. At Microsoft, we’re fully committed to helping and supporting these students show off their creations to their best ability. So, as they arrive, we give them access to top notch presenters and technical evangelists, masters of crafting a story and distilling important facts into a short but engaging presentation.

    But really, it’s the students that are the masters this week. Every single team has brought a literal masterpiece to compete with, some kind of technical marvel that often defies expectation. I’ll give you three examples to try to convey just how marvelous these young entrepreneurial and technical minds are.

    IzHard is a team of three young Russians who only got together less than a year ago at a hackathon in St Petersburg. In less than 24 hours, the trio had come up with a concept for a 2D puzzle-platforming game and built the prototype. And this despite none of them having any experience in game development previously.

    Their puzzle game is inspired by the likes of Escher and optical illusions and eschews a very simple black and white aesthetic with multiple gravities. As the player progresses, the levels become more complex and challenging and the judges agreed that it has the makings of a hit. Check it out here.

    eFitFashion from Brazil are true entrepreneurs. They’re a small team who had a goal to revolutionize the tailor-made fashion industry by allowing customers to enter their measurements into the Clothes For Me marketplace and have patterns from designers and tailors be automatically be cut to fit to their exact size, allowing customers, seamstresses and clothing firms to come together in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

    Leveraging Azure to do the calculations and backend that powers the entire solution, eFitFashion were eloquent on stage at every step of the competition, revealing that they’ve already been doing deals with firms and potential investors. What were you doing at 20 years of age? I certainly wasn’t wowing the world with an amazing blend of business nous and technical ability!

    The final team I wanted to highlight are near and dear to my heart – three very talented and passionate Australian students from Swinburne university known as Opaque Multimedia have created the Virtual Dementia Experience (VDE). The VDE simulates the effects of aging and dementia in a virtual environment, giving users an unsettlingly realistic view of what it’s like to have conditions like Alzheimer’s.

    Designed from the ground up to help carers have a greater appreciation of their patients and loved ones, the project has been under development for over 18 months and has already won many awards.

    I could have highlighted many others. Like the French team with their rollercoaster simulator taking advantage of the Oculus and combining it with a large wooden crate contraption. Or the Singaporean team who developed a system that included a laser that they used to count the flaps of a mosquito’s wings.

    Everywhere you turn at the World Finals, you get wowed. You blink in surprise. You look around in amazement and awe. These are incredibly talented people who have created things that are beyond your imagination. And they’re students. They’re not only at the start of their sure-to-be long and productive careers, but they’re still learning! And they’re a testament to what can be done with technology if you’re willing to learn.

    It’s why I do what I do. It’s what WE do what we do here at Microsoft Learning Experiences. It’s why Microsoft Virtual Academy was created. Why certifications – the key way people can validate their skills and approach creating things with confidence – are still front and center of what we do. Microsoft Press. Training options. Imagine@MVA. IT Academy. Know it. Prove it. Born to Learn. All of these things are here to help people learn more, do more, create more.

    I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of Imagine Cup for the past 7 years. Every year, I have taken part by serving the students and the judges who help guide them through the competition and beyond. Every year I see more students bring their talents to a world stage and show the massive promise we have coming our way. I’m ready to welcome them. How about you? 

    One last thing. Those three teams I highlighted above? They are the winners of the three primary competitions – Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. On Friday, July 31, in front of thousands of technologists, and a multitude who watched the live stream, the three teams presented their solutions and one was ultimately crowned the winner of the Imagine Cup. Who won? Check for yourself – www.imaginecup.com.