• Hello MCPs!


    I am so excited to be in Chicago for Microsoft Ignite 2015! And I brought with me a surprise: an exclusive sweepstakes just for Microsoft Certified Professionals at Ignite!


    What could MCPs win at Ignite?

    • Grand Prize: A Surface 3. One (1) will be awarded on May 7.
    • First Prize: $100.00 Visa gift card. One (1) will be awarded each day, May 4 to May 6.


    How do MCPs enter to win?

    1. Tweet a picture of yourself with another Ignite attendee and a short message about the topic you discussed, e.g. “getting certified in Azure this week” or “we’re both MCSE: Server Infrastructure!
    2. You must include both hashtags #IgniteMCP and #msIgnite within your tweet to be eligible.


    Limit ten (10) unique entries per person. The same entry may not be posted by multiple people. All prizes must be picked up by 2:00 pm on May 8, 2015, from Certification Central at Ignite 2015. (Please see the complete terms and conditions*.)


    Have a great time this week, and I’ll see you at the Microsoft Training and Certification booth!


    Patrick Thomas
    MCP Program Manager



    *Official Terms and Conditions attached.


  • At the Ignite conference in Chicago, the Microsoft Learning team will be on-site assisting attendees along their certification journey. More simply put, we’re going to be at the conference helping rock stars like yourself, pass Microsoft exams and earn certifications.

    Helping us with this will be many of the most knowledgeable and passionate people around—our Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Ambassadors. This is a group of trainers from around the world who are extremely passionate about helping students learn Microsoft technologies and earn certifications. If you have goals of earning a certification at Ignite (for half the price!), you'll definitely want to know about this group of awesome people. 

    To learn more about the MCT Ambassadors, I set out with my video camera to talk to one—Microsoft’s Christopher Harrison (AKA @GeekTrainer). In this short interview, we talk about:

    • Why Christopher’s excited about Microsoft Ignite
    • What Microsoft Ignite is all about
    • What Microsoft Learning will be doing on-site at Ignite
    • Who the MCT Ambassadors are and how they can help you at Ignite
    • What types of questions you can ask them 


  • |

    The latest information on retiring exams

    As technology changes, we add new exams and revise or retire older exams. We have planned the exam retirement dates for the next 12 months and have listed them in a downloadable page here. Both the exams and dates that are planned for retirement are subject to change, so please check the exam retirement page regularly for the latest information.

    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.

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

  • Ken:

    Larry, you recently announced a new recertification option through Microsoft Virtual Academy, and your blog post drew a few strong replies. Thanks for taking the time to review and respond to them. I’ll try to summarize the main questions and concerns. 

    Getting right into it, those recert paths look pretty long. Do we really need all that introductory content, and do people really need to watch all the videos?



    Yeah, we probably could have been clearer about how you complete the path.  At each step, you actually start with the assessments.  If you pass, you move on to the next step—no videos or lessons required.  If you fail, you review the related course material and then take the assessment again.  Each path covers all of the skills tied to a specific role., but if you're working with the technology every day, you'll quickly pass through most of the content and just focus your study on the recent changes.



    So in other words, you can “test out” of each module and only take the stuff you don’t already know—that’s great. But what stops someone Binging the answers to the assessments or getting someone else to do it for them?  



    Well, let's put this in perspective:  The candidates who are getting recertification credit are already MCPs who have proven themselves by passing 3-5 proctored, robust exams with their identities verified at all steps along the way. The point of recertification isn’t to make you prove the same skills over and over again (although if you want to take the exams, that’s great) but rather to motivate you to keep your skills current. It’s about continuing education, just like many other fields require.

    I suppose someone could cheat on the assessments, but there’s not much of a point in doing so—the content and assessments are free and can be taken multiple times if needed; we’re just focused on helping our MCPs keep their skills sharp.



    What about the quality of the Microsoft Virtual Academy courses and assessments? Are they strong enough to base recertification on?



    Absolutely. Look, Microsoft Virtual Academy is a really big library with lots of variation in style, depth, and tone. But courses and assessments tied to recertification will meet very specific requirements to ensure the quality level we need. We've already started that work for the assessments tied to these first three recert paths - the exam development team has thoroughly reviewed the current question pools and is working with the course authors to improve them.



    So, we're raising the quality bar, but how about the frequency bar?  How often will we update these courses?



    Good question! The days of boxed software products are passing.  To stay current - especially in areas like Azure - we need to update the learning content a lot more frequently.  So, when you're next up for recertification, expect that some (if not most) of the content in the learning path will have changed.  But again: you'll follow the same process, taking the assessments and focusing only on the changes that are unfamiliar to you.

    Spoiler alert, by the way:  Right now, we have a two-year recertification cycle for developers, and a three-year recertification cycle for IT and database professionals.  To keep up with changes in technology, we're going to have to compress that, with a goal of a one-year recertification cycle.  But, we'll make the changes slowly, provide plenty of notice, and ensure that we have Microsoft Virtual Academy recertification paths in place.



    What about other training options?  Do I have to take the Microsoft Virtual Academy Courses, or can I go to a Microsoft Learning Partner for training?



    You can use any training method you want., as long as you come back to Microsoft Virtual Academy to take the assessments.


    But won't the use of Microsoft Virtual Academy courses cut into training providers’ business?



    Frankly, there isn't a lot of opportunity to bring recertifying MCSE individuals into the traditional classroom.  They've already earned an expert-level certification, and it really isn’t feasible to “test out” of a module you already know once you show up at the training center if you only need, say, a day and a half out of a five-day course. We think our Learning Partners have a stronger opportunity helping those customers learn new skills on new products.

    If anything, the new recertification paths provide Learning Partners and their instructors with additional opportunities to engage their customers.  Custom instructor-led workshops and mentoring services, which focus on new product features and processes, could be developed by leveraging Microsoft Virtual Academy material.



    So, when I complete the learning path, what do I get?



    Well, in addition to resetting the recertification date on your MCSE certification, you'll also see credit for each skill you complete on your Microsoft transcript.  For the recertification preview, we're checking each assessment you complete and manually awarding the skills.



    Manually? Yikes. Are we going to automate that at all?



    Boy, I hope so, because my fingers are getting tired! Seriously though, we are planning to integrate back-end systems, so that you can directly associate your MC ID with your Microsoft Virtual Academy account and immediately see your progress towards recertification reflected on your Microsoft transcript.



    Okay, so streamlined recert process, recognition on my transcript, more opportunities for expert-level training…  What about the feedback that the recertification procedure should be as rigorous as the original process to earn your certification.  Should it be?



    No.  Like I said earlier, you've already proven yourself once with robust, proctored exams.  For recertification, we just want you to keep up with the ever-changing technology in your specialty area, in the most convenient way possible.



    And the question about recertification through Microsoft Virtual Academy devaluing the entire certification program?



    No, again, because this is only about recertification.  We are not changing the criteria for earning our certifications.  Everyone still has to take the same robust, proctored exams to get their certifications. I don’t foresee a time when Microsoft certification won’t require proctored exams.

    Ken…I have a question for you.  How long has Microsoft recertification been in market?



    Well, let's see…we rolled out the first batch of recertification exams last August, right?



    That’s right.  We've been talking about recertification for a few years, but we just put that option into market very recently, so, implementation-wise, this is actually a strengthening feature, not a weakening one. We have a unique opportunity right now to put in place the additional ways for people to keep their certifications current that align to the way people learn.



    So, perhaps the burning question on everyone's mind is why are we doing this type of recertification in the first place?



    When we look to what others in IT industry are doing today, more often than not, their recertification programs embrace the idea of continuing education.  For example, look at CompTIA, PMI, and I(SC)2.   In addition to exams, individuals holding their certifications can maintain them by reporting their participation in a number of learning activities, including online and instructor-led training, conferences, and writing or teaching courses.  It just makes sense, because it recognizes all of the ways that people stay current in their areas of specialty.  Our recertification through Microsoft Virtual Academy option is very much aligned with this approach.



    And will there be other ways to recertify in the future?  Perhaps, a hands-on project?



    I think that's a strong possibility.  We're already recognizing developer real-world experience for certification credit with the AppToCert program, and we're continuing to explore other options in experiential validation.



    Larry, thanks for taking the time to field all these questions.  I have just one more: when will recert paths for other specialties be made available?



    Our plan is to roll out learning paths for all specialties requiring recertification - that's MCSE and MCSD - over the next year. So, stay tuned. 

  • |

    Welcome fellow tech rock stars!

    At the beginning of this year we challenged people around the world to kick start their year off right by taking the Know it. Prove it. Learning Challenge. After the huge response of over 58,000 developers, IT professionals and students who improved their skills through one of the eight learning challenges, we launched the Know it. Prove it. Certification Challenge which is all about validating your skills.

    When you get down to it, that’s what it’s all about – KNOWING your stuff, and PROVING it out.

    As we hit the end of April, we’re launching a new Know it. Prove it. initiative. This time around, we’re billing it as a technology tour and are opening it up to allow you to take your time rather than push you hard to get an intense workout of your brain cells in a short amount of time.

    Think of February’s Know it. Prove it. Learning Challenge as sort of like the high intensity exercise regime you might find in Crossfit or Insanity. Which lets you think of Know it. Prove it. Build and Know it. Prove it. Ignite as a slow burn for your brain. Each of the two challenges revolves around one of our top tier technology conferences. Build is launching this week in San Francisco and is primarily all about development. Ignite is next week in Chicago and brings together a bunch of learning around infrastructure, the enterprise and other more IT professional focused topics like security and mobility.

    KiPi Build and KiPi Ignite capture the essence of these conferences, giving you a taste of high quality training in one of the core learning paths that attendees will experience, and framing it with the challenge aspect that was so successful in the original Know it. Prove it to give you that extra push to get your learning hat on.

    In the coming days, I’ll bring you more details about certificates (yes!), DVLUP rewards (yes!), and more (who’s up for a mystery challenge?), all on the KiPi blog, but for now I simply want to encourage you to get started.

    Head to www.knowitproveit.com and sign up. Choose a challenge and get started with the courses. Join me and the thousands of others who want to improve their skills, try something new, or simply challenge themselves to get things done.

    Rock on, KiPi tech stars.

  • Microsoft Certified Professionals represent one of the largest and most important communities among Microsoft conference attendees. This is the party to celebrate the collective technical expertise and achievements of the MCP community.

    Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    Time: 7-10 PM

    Place: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

    There will be food, drinks, exhibits, photo ops, and giveaways! Our featured Learning Partner, Global Knowledge, will be treating you to a round of their signature cocktail, too.

    How do you get in? You must have a special MCP party wrist band.There are three ways to get a wrist band:

    1) If you’re a current MCP, bring proof of your MCP credential to our booth in “Microsoft on Microsoft.”

    2) If you’re a prospective MCP, take an exam on Monday or Tuesday at Certification Central.

    3) Need to learn about Microsoft certification options? Be among the first 20 attendees to arrive at one of our theater sessions in “Microsoft on Microsoft”. The times are: Monday, 12:05-12:25pm, or Tuesday, 12:35-12:55pm.

    Bonus fun! If you're on Instagram, we'll be having some fun and prizes with it. During the party, we'll also be looking for a few rock star MCPs to possibly join us in Redmond for some special events, so get ready to ham it up in front of a video camera. See you soon!


  • |

    What first caught my attention about the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) community beyond anything else was how passionate the MCTs were about their community. Every single member I talked to, despite being from different geographical locations from all over the world, loved coming together, catching up, and supporting one another. It was the first time I had been to an MCT event, and the energy was undeniable.

    This was back in the fall of 2014, and I was still new to the world of Microsoft. At that time, one of my responsibilities was to attend the 2014 North America MCT Summit, an event where trainers fly in from around the world to learn the latest about the program from Microsoft, teach each other best practices, and much more. More specifically, my role at the event was to cover it for Born To Learn. Of course, me being me, I brought my video camera along to get some interviews. As I spoke with the folks at the conference, I found that they were simply some of the most passionate and caring people I’d ever met. It was an incredible experience to meet all of the MCTs who attended.

    Related: The next North America MCT Summit is happening in September 2015! Learn more here   

    This got me wondering, “Why do MCTs like being MCTs?” I was curious so I decided to ask some people in the trainer community and here's what they said: 

    Question: What’s your favorite part about being an MCT?

    Armando Lacerda, MCT

    Interacting with people who love technology and are eager to learn new stuff is what I enjoy. As an independent consultant I face many challenges and many specific scenarios, one at a time, but in the classroom we have this storm of scenarios and ideas flowing in every session. It is very exciting and beneficial.

    Rachel Jones, MCT

    Being an MCT provides the ability to stay current with state-of-the art technologies by providing resources and access to a community of like-minded individuals.

    Beth Canterbury, MCT

    As with any professional certification, it represents and endorses my knowledge and expertise, as well as my affiliation with Microsoft—of which I am very proud!

    Thanks to Armando, Rachel, and Beth for sharing their thoughts with me! Please keep an eye out for more MCT answers in the future.

    Learn more about becoming a Microsoft Certified Trainer.

  • Experienced attendees of Microsoft conferences know the onsite study hall is *the* place to go for complimentary learning resources. Along with our featured Learning Partner Global Knowledge, we are again bringing study hall to Ignite 2015. Find it on level 2 of Lakeside. Come and take advantage of the exclusive offers. Stay and get advice or answers from an MCT Ambassador.  

    Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll find in the study hall: 

    Free practice tests
    Use them as self-assessments or rehearsals. You can take as many practice tests as you want during Ignite week, for free, thanks to MeasureUp. Find them on all stations in the study hall.

    Free access to Safari Books Online
    Browse the huge online library or go straight to an MCT-curated collections. Ignite 2015 attendees can receive free 30-day access to Safari Books Online. Sign up online in the study hall.

    NEW: MCP Virtual Backpack
    Keep your luggage lighter and the planet greener. Browse and select your favorite certification and training resources right from the study hall computers. Send your own selections in a "virtual backpack" to yourself to review later or share with a friend, via email or SMS!

    KiPi: Ignite Edition
    Focusing on a particular Ignite content track? Want to follow up with more online training after sessions? We’ve mapped out learning paths for you in “Know It, Prove It” Ignite edition. Check them out and sign up at http://www.knowitproveit.com .

    Reminder: All MCP exams are half price during Ignite! Get certified onsite for just US$75.00 per exam. To schedule an exam, visit http://www.microsoft.com/learning and use promo code “ignitena” during checkout. (More detailed instructions here.) Or visit us at Certification Central to sign up.

    Featured Microsoft Learning Partner @ Ignite 2015 Study Hall

  • It wasn’t that long ago that I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) after completing the Instructional Skills class at the 2011 North America MCT Summit (NA MCT Summit). What I didn’t realize then was how much this new (to me) MCT community would change my career, education, and relationships. There are so many MCTs spanning many different technologies. Some work as in-house company trainers, some as learning center trainers, and others as independent contractors. Although we are all individually different, as a community we have a lot to offer to each other and to Microsoft.

    Having the time to network with MCTs, Microsoft Learning (LeX) staff, and supporting sponsors at the NA MCT Summit helped us build our community at an accelerated rate. I learned new technical skills, how to teach a specific course or technology, and how to become a better trainer.

    Each year I have made it a point to not miss this event. I have been fortunate enough to be asked by other MCT community members to help plan the event. What do I like about it? Well, here are my five top highlights.


    You have the perfect environment to meet face-to-face with like-minded MCTs, Microsoft Learning team members, Microsoft Learning Partners, MCT Summit sponsors, and more. Do you want to make a career change, go from being a staff trainer to an independent trainer, write exams, speak at premier tech conferences, or something completely different? This is the event to make the connections needed to take that leap! I know firsthand, as having these networking resources helped me take a big leap last year from being an in-house training manager to an independent training contractor. With the support of this community, I have had many successes with virtual/onsite classes, speaking about Microsoft Certifications at technology conferences, publishing online learning videos, and writing quiz question content.


    Hear directly from Microsoft Learning on how the MCT program is evolving and what technology changes are on the roadmap horizon. Last year, Alison Cunard, the General Manager for LeX, gave a very informative keynote.

    Don’t be afraid to speak up. Microsoft needs to hear what we have to say. They like to hear our ideas and will implement as many as they can. We had over 20 LeX staff attend the NA MCT Summit last year.

    Breakout sessions

    Remember that leap I mentioned? Well, it could be a technology track leap. Technical sessions are a great time to step out of your comfort zone and leap into a new technology like Azure, Microsoft Dynamics, Power BI, Windows PowerShell, SQL, and many more.

    Instructional skills

    If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an MCT, I highly recommend the Instructional Skills course. I may be a bit biased being that I attended this class back in 2011 and am now one of the many instructors facilitating such (there’s the full disclosure). Not only do you get to know 15–20 other prospective new MCTs prior to the Summit actually kicking off, you also get to know more about the program, community, resources, training best practices, recommended classroom technology, courseware, class evaluations, and hosted labs from many experts.

    Free exams

    Have a certification exam or two on your list of 2015 goals? Why not take these at the NA MCT Summit? Getting ready to take that career or technology leap previously mentioned? This is a great opportunity to take a shot at the exams.

    Each year, when possible, we partner with Microsoft to offer an evening of free exams.

    Is your employer covering your expenses to attend the NA MCT Summit? If so, this is definitely a value-add to support the investment.

    Last year, NA MCT Summit attendees took almost 200 hundred exams in one evening.

    As the leader for the NA MCT Summit and on behalf of my esteemed planning team members, Paige Rodgers and Michael Corkery, we would like to invite you to join us September 28–30 in Redmond, WA for the fifth annual community-driven North America MCT Summit. This year's Summit is a collaborative effort between the Summit planning team and LeX. We are holding the event on the Microsoft campus.

    Please visit the NA MCT Summit page for more information. Registration for the MCT Summit is live!

    I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to the MCT community.

    Heather Fitzpatrick Severino

  • MCPs,

    Our first MCP Insider “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” featuring Jeffrey Snover and hosted by Jason Helmick is now up and ready to watch!

    For those unfamiliar with him, Jeffrey is a Distinguished Engineer and the Lead Architect for the Windows Server Division at Microsoft. He’s also the inventor of Windows PowerShell. Along with PowerShell MVP and AMA Host Jason Helmick, during the MCP Insider session, Jeffrey answers tons of questions from the MCP community and gives live demos on solutions in PowerShell.

    Find your question and see the answers from Jeffrey and Jason

    Due to the amount of content we were able to record, the video is split into two modules on MVA. Each module is indexed by question and time stamped so you can jump directly to a specific question or a topic. Below is the link to the video; click the blue bar on the right of the video to see the indexed questions in each module.

    Ready to watch the video?

    Follow this link to Microsoft Virtual Academy to get started watching our first MCP Insider AMA with Jeffrey Snover and Jason Helmick.

    Once again, thank you for submitting your questions! Please let us know what you think about the video and if the content is valuable to you as an MCP. Please leave feedback on the MCP Insider forum.


    Pat Thomas
    MCP Program

  • Who doesn’t love a good sequel? Back in December, we launched the Hour of Code course using TouchDevelop to help introduce millions of students around the world to the basics of computer science. Microsoft Learning Experiences (LeX) joined the Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code initiative and put our skills to the test on Monday, December 8.

    In case you missed the excitement here in Redmond, you can see how LeX performed by checking out this photo album.

    Now on to the big news. We don’t want you to lose momentum from your Hour of Code efforts, so we are thrilled to announce the latest course with TouchDevelop. Drumroll please…announcing the availability of Learn to Code with CODExist: The Birth of Bot!

    Here’s the deal. In the first course, you had to make small fixes to a game where a crazy robot was trying to make it through a maze of wacky obstacles. This next course—the sequel—takes you to the next level. Forget the tutorial, this is your chance to build a game from scratch—not just fix it.

    Take a step toward coexistence with code—CODExist!

  • Even with the growing popularity of online, on-demand learning resources, technical professionals everywhere still rely heavily on books for learning and exam preparation. Whenever Microsoft Press releases something new or run a sale, whether for paper or ebooks, the responses from the MCP community are always enthusiastic. With that in mind, we are happy to again bring Microsoft Press with us to Ignite.

    There are two places to find Microsoft Press books at Ignite:

    1. The Microsoft Certification & Training booth – Located at “Microsoft on Microsoft”
      Here you can browse many titles, and chat with the Microsoft Press team from Pearson. We will have complimentary copies of a book on Azure, available to all attendees. You could even enter to win prizes!

    2. Certification Central – Located at Lakeside
      Here you will find more certification focused titles from Microsoft Press, such as the very popular Exam Refs. Check them out during the week. Have a seat in the study hall, flip through the books, and have a chat with Microsoft Certified Trainers. (Don’t forget to register for an exam at 50% off plus Second Shot!)

    Ignite 2015 is just a little over 2 weeks away! My next blog post will be all about the onsite study hall and the resources you’ll find in it. In the meantime…

    Do you have Microsoft Press books around your desk now? Which book have you been reading most recently? Do you have a favorite Microsoft Press author?


  • Here at Microsoft, we believe access to learning opportunities for critical technical skills empower developers in the global workforce to be competitive and successful in our mobile-first, cloud-first world. 

    As part of this effort, Microsoft launched the App to Cert program worldwide to the entire Microsoft Certified Professional community in November, 2014.  The program benefits software developers from organizations of all sizes, from hobbyists to those working in large enterprises.  App to Cert allows developers to leverage the work they have already done building real-world applications to earn credit toward certification.  We’re partnering with Microsoft Developer Support experts to give developers an opportunity to prove their real-world technical skills and earn Microsoft certification while they do so.

    Instead of a traditional path of three knowledge-based exams, the AppToCert program allows candidates to earn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certification by following just three steps:

    • Passing a technical review of their software applications with a Microsoft engineer
    • Publishing the applications in the Microsoft Windows Store
    • Passing a single Advanced technical certification exam

    As a result of the program, developers can save hundreds of dollars and months of exam prep time in earning their certification.  You only pay for one exam (instead of three) and all of your effort ties back to the work you are already doing.  And in the end, the final review is not just a paper review – you end up with an app in the Microsoft store! 

    This is truly a performance-based alternative that provides a seamless path to certification, while aligning to the work you are already doing.

    First International Graduate

    The App to Cert program now has our first international graduate, Arif Najar, who is currently studying for his Master Of Computer Applications degree in his last semester at Kashmir University in India. picture of arif

    “I thought I should do the App to Cert program so I would have a great chance to expand my knowledge of App development and create apps for the store that would benefit not only me but all users,” Arif said.  He successfully completed his app review, published the app in the Windows Store, and passed Exam 485 to earn his MCSD: Windows Store Apps using C# credential.

    “I was inspired to create something to go beyond the default music app in Windows 8, I saw something missing in it,” Arif said.  “You couldn’t add music from any other location other than the Music Library to the playlist.  I thought I could create a playlist that would enable users to add music from any location on their devices.” 

    Arif’s Super Media Player Plus app can be found here in the Windows Store: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/dbe891e9-4798-4428-9a34-8a1d7d59cbca  

    “I am very happy I got this broader exposure to app development,” Arif said.  “I would encourage other aspiring developers to take a look at the App to Cert program as a great way to evaluate and validate your development skills.” 

    We’ll be offering the App to Cert program through June, 2015, so please visit the App to Cert site today so you can get started on your own exciting journey. 

    Read the story of the first graduate from the App to Cert program. 

  • Continuing in the series of ACE NewsBytes covering the questions posed by the viewers of my webinar interview with Greg Shields from Pluralsight, this one covers those related to value of certification. This is a hot topic, and I expect even more questions from our loyal followers to help us better understand what you're thinking on this topic and what we can provide to help you build a business case with your manager, team, organization, etc. to get certified!

    Here are the questions that I answer in this edition:

    • What are the benefits of getting certified with Microsoft? What ‘edge’ does someone who is certified have over someone who is not?
    • How do certifications differentiate you from others?
    • How are we educating hiring managers about the meaning and relevance of Microsoft certifications?
    • How is Microsoft helping those who have our certification find jobs?
    • How does the process works after you get certified? Is there a way that clients/employers can verify your credentials?

    Watch this ACE NewsByte as I shed some light on the real value of certification!

    As a reminder, in our first installment, we answered your questions related to exam preparation and alignment of learning content to exam content. In the second installment, we discussed question formats/item types, in the third installment, we discussed questions about scoring, and in the latest installment, we discussed exam development.

  • “Every now and again you just have to stop and invest in your career, and I encourage you to do that now. Stop what you're doing, and invest in PowerShell and you'll be rewarded for having done so.”

    Jeffrey Snover

    Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft Corporation

    …and the Inventor of PowerShell

    I could begin this post by giving you a long list of reasons aimed at convincing you to embrace and learn PowerShell right this very minute. But that’s already been done, and done, and well… done again by a number of leading technology resources (check out these articles from TechRepublic and pluralsite – and note that the TechRepublic article was written over 5 years ago).  What’s important here is that each and every reason mentioned in both articles is still very much relevant today.  Consider the sheer number of well-intentioned experts running around telling you and your fellow technology professionals what you should be doing and learning to get prepared for the “Cloud.”  You know one of the few things most of these well-intentioned experts have in common?  Most of them pay close attention to Jeffrey Snover.  Yep...the same Jeffrey Snover that created PowerShell and the same guy that delivered the words that kick off this post.  Jeffrey and other leading IT thought leaders, both inside and outside Microsoft, believe that PowerShell is a must have, top of the resume skill.  If you are a current or aspiring IT Professional, the evidence is pretty substantial – you should learn PowerShell, and if you already know it, you should keep going and continue to grow your skills.  There is likely no better bridge to what you are doing right now on premise to you will be doing very soon in the Cloud! 

    We’re on the same page now, right?  PowerShell skills are vital, you need those skills tucked under your belt. Right? And if you already know it, then there are always new cmdlets and peer driven tips-and-tricks to pick up along the way.  So how do you do that?  Two suggestions – 1) lean on the community and, thankfully, the PowerShell community is amongst the most open, approachable, and helpful communities in the technology landscape, and 2) lean on Microsoft, as we have invested substantial resources in creating a rich library of “from-the-source” content on PowerShell, including our new online course - Windows PowerShell Fundamentals – delivered in partnership with edX.  Please explore the resources listed below from the Community and from Microsoft – there is something for everyone at every skill level - and if you can’t find what you need, ask someone, ask the community and you will undoubtedly find the answers that you need. 

    Don’t delay!  There is no excuse – the IT industry and the rapidly growing IT Cloud need PowerShell skills and the PowerShell Community and Microsoft have the resources to help you get started today.  The most knowledgeable IT Operators listen to Jeffrey Snover – shouldn’t you?    

    4 Amazing Learning Resources on PowerShell

    1. PowerShell.org - The mission of PowerShell.org, Inc. is to provide educational resources to the global PowerShell community, and to provide assistance and resources to local and regional PowerShell user groups. Check out a couple of free learning offerings from PowerShell’s #1 resource site.

    2. Free Training from Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) – MVA is THE place to get free training delivered by proven experts on the latest and greatest technologies from Microsoft.  Check out the following MVA offerings on PowerShell – you’ll likely encounter a couple PowerShell celebrities!

    3. Deep Technical Training from a Microsoft Learning Partner - Microsoft Learning Partners can help you achieve your Microsoft technology training goals and they are the only authorized sources for the latest Microsoft Official Courses.  Find a Microsoft Learning Partner and go deep on PowerShell today!

    4. Microsoft Press creates books for every skill level across the entire range of Microsoft technologies.  Check out the following Press offerings from one of PowerShell’s most trusted sources.

    4 Additional Resources for leading edge PowerShell Content

    1. PowerShell Magazine - PowerShell Magazine serves PowerShell content free of cost to readers. The magazine is published monthly and is available as an online edition and as a downloadable PDF. The majority of content contribution is done through guest authors and the community.
    2. Thought-leading blogs from Microsoft PowerShell MVPs:
    3. MVP Kirk Munro’s blog
    4. MVP and author Jeffery Hicks’ blog
      1. The Official blog of the Microsoft PowerShell Team
      2. Scripting Resources from Microsoft
  • In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft Ignite 2015 is officially sold out! Even better news: the schedule builder is LIVE! Now you can start filling your days with all the learning and networking opportunities available at Ignite.

    One of the best ways to demonstrate the value of attending Ignite is by adding a new Microsoft certification to your CV, and Ignite is making “Certification Central” available to all attendees to support that. But you don’t have to take my word for it. See what Microsoft CVP Brad Anderson says about getting certified at technical conference.

    With so many great sessions and activities happening all around you, how do you focus and achieve all your goals for the week? If passing an exam is among your goals, here are my four quick tips for exam success at Ignite 2015:

    1. Pre-register for your exams before getting to Ignite
      You know you’ll be busy high-fiving your friends and getting settled when you arrive in Chicago, so make it a point to reserve your exam times now before you get on the flight/bus/car. Besides, why waste time standing in line? We’ve made it easy for you to schedule exams online. Pre-register ASAP! Did I mention all MCP exams are half price at Ignite 2015? Get the discount code here.

    2. Take your exams earlier in the week
      If you’ve already been studying, get the exam out of the way early and off your mind so you can enjoy the rest of the week. And if (and that’s a big if) you don’t pass, there would be enough time for a retake later in the week... with a free Second Shot! (The mandatory wait is 24 hours before your first retake.)  Bonus tip: If you’ve never been Microsoft certified before, take your exam on Monday or Tuesday, so you can join the exclusive MCP party on Tuesday night!

    3. Put the exam prep sessions in your schedule
      There will be 19 exam prep sessions available throughout the week. Find them by filtering under “formats” in the session catalog. Add them to your schedule builder, and take advantage of these technical focused sessions led by Microsoft Certified Trainers. Thanks to your feedback from previous conferences, we’ve made improvements to these exam prep sessions this year. Check out what’s new about them.

    4. See an MCT Ambassador
      Not sure which exam you need to take next? Make a beeline to Certification Central and find an MCT Ambassador. They’ll be in black polo shirts that say “Microsoft Certified Trainer” on the chest. They are there to help you map out your certification path and offer guidance on training resources. Find out who they are here.

    And now, a quick message from two great people you’ll meet at Certification Central: David Lewis, who manages the onsite testing center, and Kerri Davis, who defends exam security and your privacy. See you in Chicago soon!

  • If you’re brand new to Microsoft Certifications and training, you likely have many of different questions, one of them being, "how exactly do I get started?" To people who ask me this, I always reply that the best place to find this type of information is on Microsoft.com/Learning. It really has everything you need, including explanations about certifications and exams, training information and much more. It's really a one stop shop. 

    Today, to help supplement the information on Microsoft.com/Learning, I wanted to get additional tips and insights on how to get started with Microsoft Certifications so I decided to ask our certification experts. If you recall, these are members of the Microsoft Learning Experiences team that have themselves studied for and earned Microsoft Certifications. Here's what they said: 

    [Question]: What’s the best way to get started with Microsoft Certifications and training?

    Christopher Harrison, Content Developer, Microsoft Learning Experiences

    Take an exam. Really. I know that's a little on the nose, but it's true. I find that a lot of people who are new to the certification path are most concerned about the testing experience. Once you take that first test, you'll realize it's not nearly as scary as you've built it up to be in your head.

    Larry Kaye, Senior Product Manager (Developer and SQL Certifications), Microsoft Learning Experiences

    I think that Microsoft Virtual Academy Jump Start courses are the best place to start–they provided a great overview of the knowledge I needed to master and helped me prepare my study plan.

    David Elfassy, Consultant, Microsoft Learning Experiences

    Pick the technology you are proficient in, pick the exam that matches that technology, look at the exam prep guide, fill in your gaps of knowledge, and take the exam. Rinse, lather, repeat.

    Thanks to all our team members for letting me pick their brains and allowing me to share their expertise here on Born To Learn.

    If you still have questions about the best way to get started with Microsoft exams and certifications, I invite you to ask our team of Microsoft Certified Trainers in our online study groups.

    Lastly, I’d like to hear from you. Do you have a question about Microsoft Certifications and training that you’d like me to ask our team? If so, share it with me in the comments section and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks, everyone!

  • |

    UPDATE 3 (April 21)

    The Microsoft Virtual Academy course "Querying with Transact-SQL" is now available.  This course completes the path needed to recertify your MCSE: Business Intelligence certification, and is also part of the MCSE: Data Platform recertification path.  Find out more here: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/querying-with-transact-sql

    UPDATE 2 (April 19):

    Thanks for the continued feedback on this thread.

    Stay tuned this coming week for another blog, where Ken Rosen and I sit down and talk through the questions, comments, and concerns raised by the BTL community.



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

    Please also see step 3 for clarification - Microsoft will be verifying the completion of your Microsoft Virtual Academy activities for recertification.


    We know you have a lot of demands on your time, so we're rolling out a new option to help you keep your certifications current.  Now, you can recertify by completing a prescribed path of Microsoft Virtual Academy courses.


    Although you can still choose to recertify by passing a recertification exam, recertifying with Microsoft Virtual Academy provides a great way to both maintain your current skills and catch up on advances in your area of expertise, all on your own schedule.


    Recertification can now be achieved simply 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.

    If your MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence credential is due for recertification, you can take advantage of Recertification Through Microsoft Virtual Academy immediately.  We’ll add recertification paths for other MCSE and MCSD certifications over the next year.


    To learn more about this recertification option, click here.

  • Continuing in the series of ACE NewsBytes covering the questions posed by the viewers of my webinar interview with Greg Shields from Pluralsight, this one covers those related to exam development:

    • How many questions can candidates expect when they take an exam?
    • Are the questions tested in a real world situation before appearing on an exam?
    • Why do require candidates to memorize commands when answering questions on these skills?
    • How can someone become a subject matter expert for Microsoft’s exam development?
      • Because I haven't mentioned this in awhile, here's the short answer... JOIN the SME Database today! Doing so will increase the likelihood of being invited to participate in beta exams and being asked to help design and develop Microsoft exams, courseware and books!
    • How often do we use internal Microsoft employees in this process?

    Want the answers to these questions and more? Watch this ACE NewsByte!

    As a reminder, in our first installment, we answered your questions related to exam preparation and alignment of learning content to exam content. In the second installment, we discussed question formats/item types, and in the third installment, we discussed questions about scoring.

  • |

    Calling all Windows Phone and Windows Store Apps developers!

    Microsoft is supercharging its AppToCert program for Spring 2015, broadening appeal to a wider segment of developers.  Here are the updated details:

    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? Elevate yourself by getting certified as a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer through a special streamlined path, courtesy of Microsoft Learning and Microsoft Developer Support Experts.

    With the AppToCert Program, HTML5/JS or C#/XAML developers can save hundreds of dollars and get credit for up to two exams by showing the app development work you are already doing. 

    Along the way, the app review will provide you with tips on app design and implementation, and address common pitfalls and blockers to getting apps into the marketplace.

    Earning credit towards certification through AppToCert can now be achieved simply by completing these three steps:

    1. Pass either a Core or Intermediate technical review of your application by a Microsoft engineer
    2. Publish or update your application in the Windows Phone Store or Windows Store
    3. Take and pass one Microsoft developer certification exam from a list of Web, SharePoint, and Windows Store app exams.


    To learn more about the program:

    • First, review the program details and register here.
    • Then, visit Microsoft Virtual Academy and get a glimpse into the app review process: Last Stop: Getting Your Windows App to Market
    • Finally, learn more about one of our recent AppToCert program graduates in our spotlight here.
  • |

    Once again I am back from the annual Innovations in Testing conference, hosted by the Association of Test Publishers. I look forward to this conference every year as it brings together many of my counterparts and colleagues in the testing field, provides a good opportunity to learn and network, and lets me be immersed in my job for three full days. Once again, attendance topped more than 1,000 attendees—testing is a big field.

    This year I got to present at two sessions. My first session I co-created with my colleagues at Pearson VUE, our exam delivery provider. Our session, titled We Are Not the NSA: How to Factor Privacy Into Your Security Program, focused on the intersection between privacy and security. As both the exam security manager and the privacy manager for my organization at Microsoft, I encounter this topic quite often. We talked about basic privacy principles such as notice, consent, and control; data handling and sharing; and how the security professional can work with a privacy professional to ensure that customers’ expectations in both arenas are met.

    My ITCC colleagues from Pearson VUE and IBM and I also did a session called The Connection Between Socializing Professional Skills and Career Advancement. We demonstrated some methods that LinkedIn, Microsoft, and IBM employ to allow credential/certification holders to showcase their accomplishments, whether to social networks or employers. Wallet cards, LinkedIn profiles, shareable transcripts, and candidate highlights are some examples. Promotion of one’s earned certs was a recurring theme at ATP, especially as it pertains to badging and micro-credentialing. Once a candidate earns a certification, how can they use that to their online advantage? What does that certification tell the world about them? We got a lot of good questions and interest in that session as well.

    One other highlight for me was the opportunity to play with contraband that has been used to steal exam answers, thanks to the fine folks at Caveon Test Security, who brought some examples. I will not get into particulars on that, but I will assure you that the rules we have in place at a testing center exist for good reasons.

    Next up for me is Microsoft Ignite, where I will have the opportunity to meet and interact with our Microsoft Certified Trainers and candidates.

    Got a tip for me? Let me know at mlsecure@microsoft.com.

  • Update: Jeffrey Snover AMA video will be posted on 4/17.

    The recording session with Jeffrey and Jason was phenomenal! We received so many great questions from the community and I want to thank you for the support. Do to the amount of content we were able to record, it is taking a bit longer to get the video up, but it will be worth the wait. We will get the video up by next Friday, April 17. 

    Please tune in next week to see Jeffrey and Jason at their best demoing PowerShell, sharing insights on new technology, and having fun in the process!


    Pat Thomas

    MCP Program Manager



    This is your chance to learn anything you want about PowerShell—straight from the inventor himself during our first MCP Insider Q&A!

    Here’s what we need from you: Questions!

    During the MCP Insider Q&A, Jeffrey Snover (Microsoft Lead Architect & inventor of Windows PowerShell) will be answering your questions as well as providing demos (based on what you ask) that you can use to prepare for an exam, leverage for a new project, or learn just for fun. This is a unique opportunity to interact directly with an industry expert and you own the conversation! Don’t know anything about PowerShell? There is no better way to learn than to ask a few basic questions. Tune in on April 9th to check out the answers and demos.

    Why am I excited about the MCP Insider series?

    The MCP Insider series is meant to connect the community directly with industry experts to accelerate learning, drive career and technical growth, and to get an inside look at where Microsoft is headed. We hope that this first event will be a great kickoff so get your questions in!

    How to submit your questions to Microsoft Lead Architect Jeffrey Snover

    1. Go to this forum
    2. Submit your questions by April 1st at 6:00 PM PDT.
    3. Return to Born To Learn on April 9th to see Jeffrey’s answers on video. 


    Pat Thomas
    MCP Program Manager

    MCP Program Manager

    • What’s the best way for me to ramp up on [insert Microsoft technology product name]?
    • What are the hottest tech skills to acquire now for my career advancement?
    • I need to get certified or upgrade my old MCSE/MCITP. What exams do I need to take?
    • I’m having trouble with [insert tech issue or concept] at work and when studying. Can I pick your brain?
    • I have questions but am too nervous to ask during a session…

    These are just a few examples of questions you can bring to the MCT Ambassadors at Microsoft Ignite 2015. Who are they? They are a group of experienced IT pros and developers who have built their careers and businesses around learning, teaching, and consulting on various Microsoft (and other) technologies. As Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT), they actively train technologists from around the world in classrooms or online. During Microsoft Ignite week, you will have access to their brains and expertise when you visit Certification Central or our booth, for FREE! In addition, many of them will be leading the exam prep sessions to help you ace your exams onsite.

    Here are your Ignite 2015 MCT Ambassadors:

    Adnan Hendricks

    Armando Lacerda

    Brian Svidergol

    Cale Teeter

    Chris Rhodes

    Christopher Harrison

    Cindy Lewis

    Farhan Sattar

    John Deardurff

    John Muller

    Mark Grimes

    Mark Wheatley

    Matthew Bailey

    Mindy Young

    Mirko Colemberg

    Peter De Tender

    Randel Hall

    Raphael Barini

    Rob Edwards

    Robert Reinsch

    Sidney Andrews

    Sondra Nelson

    Viviane Ribeiro

    Vladmir Meloski

    Wayne McGlinn


    You may already know several of them through their great work and active community involvement. While in Chicago this May, look for them in their black polo shirts embroidered with “Microsoft Certified Trainer.” They are full of valuable information, and they really love helping you learn (and certify!).

    Additional info:

  • We have a number of great updates to share with you in this ACE NewsByte!

    1. The Bing Rewards Campaign has been extended through April 30! Take a MCP certification exam until April 30, and regardless of if you pass or fail, you will receive 525 Bing Rewards Credits.

    2. MCPs receive a 40% discount on print books and 50% on eBooks.

    3. Rock it at Ignite at the MCP party and by taking an exam for half price! MCTs plan to be there a day early for Day Zero fun (and it really is fun!).

    4. Larry Kaye (he envisions, designs, and implements our developer certification paths, requirements, and strategy), won the FIRST ever ITCC Innovation Award for his AppToCert program. The Innovation Award celebrates professionals in the IT industry responsible for creating a product, service, or initiative that positively impacts customers, companies, and/or the candidate experience. This is an AMAZING honor for him!! I really cannot stress how innovative his idea is in the certification industry. To be recognized for this program is quite an honor.

    Learn about these great updates and more by watching this ACE NewsByte!

  • What happens when experts in Microsoft technologies come to the MCP community and take questions? You get the “MCP Insider” series!


    The new “MCP Insider” series adopts the popular “ask me anything” format from online communities, and turns questions and answers into videos available for your repeat viewing pleasure and ease of reference. Questions and requests can be submitted to the dedicated “MCP Insider” forum on this site, where the featured Microsoft technologists will be watching and collecting your questions.


    The very first MCP Insider will feature Jeffrey Snover and host Jason Helmick. Have a question for Jeffrey or want him to demo something in a video? Post your questions and requests in the “MCP Insider” forum by 6:00 PM PDT on April 1, 2015. And then, watch for their video response here on Born to Learn blog on April 9 and see whose questions got answers.


    To participate, you need to have a profile set up on Born to Learn. You can use your MC ID email address or your Microsoft Virtual Academy login. (If you’ve participated in certification challenge or KiPi, you already have a profile.)


    Learn more about our featured guests in this first installment of MCP Insider, check out their blogs:


    See you in the forum soon!


    Patrick Thomas

    MCP Program Manager