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

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

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

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

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

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

  • |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • |

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

    Featured Promotion

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    Featured Sample Chapter

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

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


    Read the complete chapter here.


    Author Video


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


  • |

    Microsoft Learning Experiences is coming to a city near you, thanks to AT&T. We’ll be in four different cities across the next month, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. At each event, we’ll be giving away a prize for the best mobile app leveraging Microsoft technologies (different at each event to keep you on your toes!).

    Each AT&T hackathon focuses on app development for mobile devices. We’ll be there to help you skill up on using Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Windows 10 and universal apps. If you want to get a head start, check out these courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy all about Microsoft Azure.

    I also want to highlight that we have our AppToCert program live again, which gives you credit for real world experience. Imagine going to a hackathon, building an app, winning a prize and then getting recognition for it to help you get officially certified by Microsoft. That's a win all round!

    We hope to see you there! Register for your local hackathon below.

    San Francisco, November 6-7, 2015

    GSV Labs. 425 Broadway. Redwood City, CA 94063

    Register Here

    New York City, November 6-7, 2015

    Center for Social Innovation New York City.
    601 W 26th St. #325. New York, NY. 10001

    Register Here 

    Los Angeles, November 13-14, 2015

    Rhubarb Studios. 633 W 5
    th St. #1400. Los Angeles, CA. 90071

    Register Here

    Miami, December 4-5, 2015

    Carl DeSantis Building. Nova Southeastern University.
    3301 College Ave. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 33314

    Register Here


    PS. I'm going to be at the New York hackathon this week, so please come and say hi if you're around!

  • In recent blogs, I explained the process we follow when you challenge a question. While we do find issues with questions through this process, more often than not, there is nothing significantly wrong with the question. If there’s nothing technically wrong with a question, why do candidates think there is? In most cases, our SMEs tell us that candidates are overthinking the question.

    So, here are some tips to keep in mind as you think about answering our exam questions:

    • Remember that old adage that your first response is probably the correct one? This is an old adage for a reason. Don’t overthink the question. Unless you overlooked something significant in the question, your first (gut) reaction is often the right one.

    • Don’t read more into the stem than what’s there. Yes, we expect that you will be able to draw appropriate inferences based on the situation described without having to explain all the nuances in the stem, but those inferences should be based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are expected of the target audience, not those of the advanced or expert candidate. If you really know your stuff, don’t overthink the question. You may know of the corner case where something might work differently, but your average candidate probably doesn’t. Our exams are intended to test the skills and abilities of our target audience. You may be significantly more qualified than that person… keep that in mind when you answer questions.

    • Microsoft is not trying to trick you. Don’t assume that we are. You’re more likely to come up with the correct answer if you operate under this assumption than if you think that we are. I did a blog series on this topic about a year ago. If you want to know more, check it out:



    • If you don’t know the answer, it’s better to eliminate what you know can’t be correct and make an educated guess based on the remaining choices. You are not penalized for incorrect answers, so any answer is better than no answer at all. If all else fails, pick C… I’M TOTALLY KIDDING! THAT IS REALLY A TEST-TAKING MYTH IN THE COMPUTER-BASED TESTING WORLD!! 

    Keep these tips in mind the next time you take one of our certification exams, and let me know how it goes.

  • In a recent blog, I explained the process we follow when you challenge an exam question. However, we actually get the most feedback about exam scores. We refer to this type of feedback as a “candidate escalation.” It’s not the exam content that’s being called into question, but rather some other aspect of the exam experience. The escalations we receive about scores fall into one of these categories:

    • My score can’t be right; check that my answers were scored correctly.
    • I got the same score more than once.
    • The score report bars show that I got over 70 percent correct.

    Well, about a year ago, I did a series of blogs related to scoring that really digs into the nuances of our scoring process, and rather than rehash that material here*, let’s talk about each of these common escalations.

    My score can’t be right: When we get this type of escalation, we do confirm that the answers recorded for your responses were scored correctly by comparing them to the answer key. You should know that I cannot recall an instance in the many years that I’ve been working at Microsoft where the answer recorded was not correctly scored given the answer key. However, we have found instances where the keyed correct answer was actually not correct. In those cases, we review the candidate’s exam result and determine if a rescore is needed. (In many cases, removing a question actually doesn’t change the passing score because we always round up--the reason being that you must demonstrate at least minimal competence, and if we round down, you have not done that.) If the question can be fixed, we do so and republish the exam accordingly. When we do a rescore, every candidate who saw the “bad” question and was within a point of passing will be included in the process and will be notified only if their passing result changed.

    I got the same score again: Actually, the consistency in the results shows that the exam is a reliable measure of skills. All things being equal, reliable exams should result in similar scores across multiple attempts. That being said, one assumes that you are studying between attempts, which should mean that your score improves, but this isn’t always the case. If you are stumbling in areas that are truly difficult, studying will only get you so far. You actually need to practice those skills to really understand how you should answer the associated questions on the exam. You should also explore other preparation strategies because it’s possible that what you’re doing isn’t working as effectively as you would like.

    So, psychometrically speaking, taking an exam multiple times and getting the same score is actually a good thing. From a candidate’s perspective, though, I understand the frustration. Look for other preparation strategies, including hands-on practice, and the result will hopefully be different on your next attempt.

    The score report bars show that I got over 70 percent correct:It’s a common misperception that you must answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly in order to pass the exam because the passing score is scaled to 700. Because it’s a scaled score, it does not reflect the percentage that you must answer correctly to pass. The actual percentage varies from exam to exam, and in many cases is actually higher than 70 percent. The percentage of correct answers needed to pass is based on input provided by subject matter experts who helped us set the cut score and the difficulty of the questions delivered when you take exam. If you see a more difficult set of questions, the passing percentage will be lower than if you see an easier set of questions.

    On a related note, because the number of questions in each section varies, the length of the bars cannot be used to calculate the number of questions answered correctly, and bars cannot be combined to determine the percentage of questions answered correctly on the overall exam. What does this really mean??? Even if the bars show that answered a high percentage of questions correctly in one or more sections, you can still fail the exam. Why? First, there may not be enough questions in that section to compensate for poor performance in other sections. Or, the passing score is higher than 70% and could be as high as 80+%, which means you need high scores across all of the sections

    Remember: If something doesn’t seem right about your exam or a question that you saw, you need to let us know! We don’t know what we don’t know. As I have often said, Microsoft is not trying to trick you. Really. A good way to do let us know that you think something is off an on exam is through our challenge and escalation process. Don’t be afraid to use it!

    *You really should read these blogs because they explain the difference between a scaled score, raw score (the number of points you earn before the scoring algorithm is applied), and percent correct needed to pass. They also explain why Microsoft uses scaled scores and why you should prefer this approach over a straight percentage correct. Check out the series here:







  • |

    Development of our Windows 10 portfolio of exams is nearing completion.


    On the IT professional side, the first Windows 10 exam - Exam 697 Configuring Windows Devices - is nearing the completion of its beta phase, which began in early September.  At this time, an MCSA: Windows 10 certification will not be offered.  Instead, passing Exam 697 will result in a Specialist certification, which will be the recommended pre-requisite for MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps.


    Due to the overlap between the Windows 8.1 exams and this Windows 10 exam, the Windows 8.1 upgrade exams 689 and 692, as well as the MCSA:  Windows 8 certification will retire on January 31st, 2016.  Exams 687 and 688 will remain as Specialist exams until they retire on July 31st, 2016.


    A second client exam, Exam 398: Planning for and Managing Windows Devices, is nearing completion.  This exam will also result in a Specialist certification and covers the Enterprise Mobility Suite.  More information on the release of this exam to beta will be available soon.

  • |

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

    Featured Promotion

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        For a limited time, tell us what Microsoft Press book is on your shelf and receive a special discount code to save 90% on the multi-format eBook edition!

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    *Submit a valid print book ISBN-13 to receive offer. Unique discount code displayed on screen confers a 90% discount off the list price of an eBook purchased on microsoftpressstore.com by October 31, 2015. Discount not valid on Best Value packs or any title featured as eBook Deal of the Week. Discount code may not be combined with any other offer and is not redeemable for cash. Promotion form expires 11:59 p.m. EDT on October 28, 2015. Offer subject to change.

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    Featured Sample Chapter

    Using Windows 10 from the upcoming Windows 10 Inside Out

      Go here to download the sample chapter- https://www.microsoftpressstore.com/content/images/9780735697966/samplepages/9780735697966_ch03.pdf

    In this chapter, we look at the things you tap, click, drag, and drop to make Windows do your bidding. Some, like the taskbar and notification icons, are similar enough to their predecessors that you might miss subtle but significant changes. Our coverage also includes a section on the unique ways to interact with a tablet running Windows 10. And, of course, we introduce Cortana, the first Windows feature that can literally speak for itself.



  • If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I really want to hear your feedback about our exams. You might be wondering, “How do I do this? And, if I do provide feedback to Microsoft, will anybody even read it?” Well, one way for you to provide that feedback is through our question challenge process. And, YES! we do read and respond to each challenge that we receive. Here’s how the process works:

    1) If you believe that a question on an exam has a technical issue (e.g., it's inaccurate, outdated, or doesn’t have a correct answer), you should submit your feedback through our question challenge process following the steps detailed here (under "Challenging a Microsoft Certification Exam Item"):


    2) Challenges are routed through one of our vendors to our Candidate Complaints Manager, who reviews them. If the challenge is related to scoring, we confirm that the exam was scored correctly (but, we technically consider this an “escalation” which I will discuss in a future blog post). If the challenge is related to the technical accuracy (or similar) of the question, it is sent to subject matter experts for feedback. The SMEs review the challenge and the question and provide feedback. This review is rarely simple. Often, SMEs do additional research to ensure the technical accuracy and appropriateness of the question so they can provide a detailed rationale for their response and recommended action. Feedback can take one of several forms: there are no issues with the item, the item should be fixed, or the item should be removed.

    3) Based on the subject matter expert’s feedback, the Candidate Complaints Manager writes a response and sends it to our vendor, who then sends it to the person who submitted the challenge. Note that we typically don't provide as much detail in our responses as the SMEs provide in their review. In order to protect the integrity of our certification process and maintain the question security, we provide a high level summary of this feedback. Our goal is to provide a response in 6 weeks although we work as fast as can and do everything to respond more quickly. However, finding SMEs, having them review the question, reviewing the feedback, consolidating, and responding takes time. Be patient. We are looking into your issue with due diligence.

    4) Sometimes investigations of challenges do reveal issues with questions. When that happens, I work with the Candidate Complaints Manager to determine the appropriate course of action. Lots of variables come into play when making these decisions, and each situation is unique. To oversimplify this a bit, if the question is fundamentally flawed, we remove it from the exam as quickly as possible. If there is an issue that affected the candidate’s ability to answer a question correctly, we rescore impacted candidates. If a question can be fixed, we do so and republish the exam as quickly as possible.

    This is the basic process that we follow for most challenges. If the challenge is something new or unusual, the Candidate Complaints Manager routes the escalation to me for review.

    I should mention that, of course, candidates don’t always agree with the result of our investigations, but given the rigor with which we develop our exams and the process we use to investigate issues raised through this process, I trust that the evaluation of the challenge is an accurate reflection of the quality of the question that is under review.

    Got other questions about the process? Let me know!

  • Are you an expert in developing apps that leverage other services and devices and that use best coding practices to enhance maintainability? Do you want earn your MCSD: Universal Windows Platform, which requires passing exams 483, 354, and 355? If so, pay attention!! I have some great news for you! 

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

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-355.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code BETA355MCP to take it for free. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

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

    Oh, by the way, don't forget that 354 is also in beta... You can get 2/3 of the way to earning your MCSD: Universal Windows Platform by participating in both beta exams. Learn more about the 354 beta here:


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

  • ***UPDATE*** As of October 20, 2015, all 300 free seats for this beta exam 354 have been claimed. Thanks for your enthusiastic participation and interest!

    Are you an expert in developing apps and designing and implementing a compelling user experience? Do you develop enterprise LOB apps with an emphasis on the user experience? Do you want to take the first step in earning your MCSD: Universal Windows Platform, which requires passing exams 483, 354, and 355 (hang tight the 355 beta will be announced soon)?

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

    To prepare for the exam, review our prep guide and practice the skills listed: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-354.aspx

    ***Register for the exam at the same site and use code BETA354MCP to take it for free. Remember: There are a limited amount of spots, so when they're gone, they're gone. You should also be aware that there are some country limitations where the beta code will not work (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam); you will not be able to take the beta exam for free in those countries.

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

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

  • |

    Microsoft is pleased to announce the release of a new Windows 10 developer certification entitled MCSD: Universal Windows Platform.

    This credential demonstrates expertise at designing and implementing Universal Windows Platform apps that offer a compelling user experience, leverage other services and devices, and use best coding practices to enhance maintainability.

    The new certification is earned by passing all three of the following exams:

    The MCSD: Universal Windows Platform certification will go live on Oct 13th.

    For more details on this new credential, please visit the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer landing page.

  • For technology professionals everywhere, being confident in your knowledge and skill set is important to being effective in a role―and this definitely holds true for Philip Erb. As a Systems Administrator for his organization, Philip needs to be able to speak confidently with his colleagues about technologies and the plans for implementing them. How does he gain this confidence? For Philip, it starts with validating his knowledge by earning new Microsoft certifications. He explains:

    My Microsoft Certifications confirm that, yes, I know what I’m talking about, and that confidence comes through in my attitude when we have meetings and conversations about how we need to implement things.

    In this episode of Lighting IT up, Philip discusses what his Microsoft certifications have meant to his career, his next certification goals, and much more.

    See more videos:

  • |

    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.

    Featured Promotion

    Save 35% on The Definitive Guide to DAX


       Coming soon! Two leading Microsoft BI consultants and mentors introduce DAX through realistic and useful examples, presenting common calculations that empower users to get results immediately. Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari demystify complex topics, showing readers exactly what happens under the DAX engine's "hood" when they run a DAX expression. For a limited time, apply discount code DAXGUIDE to save 35% on book or eBook pre-order. Offer ends October 10, 2015.

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    Featured Sample Chapter

    Deploy Your First Active Directory Forest and Domain

         In this chapter from Deploying and Managing Active Directory with Windows PowerShell: Tools for cloud-based and hybrid environments, Charlie Russel covers how to create a new Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) forest where one has never existed before. This is, in some ways, the easiest task you're likely to face, but it's also one where getting it right is really important. The decisions you make here will affect the entire organization for the life of this deployment.


  • 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.

    Featured Promotion

    Save up to 50% on all books & eBooks


    Now is the time to load your library with new and top-selling titles from Microsoft Press – the more you buy, the more you save!

    Buy 1, Save 35% | Buy 2, Save 50% on all books and eBooks in the store when you enter code MOREPRESS during checkout.

    Offer ends September 9, 2015.

    Featured book

    Exam Ref 70-347 Enabling Office 365 Services

    Prepare for Microsoft Exam 70-347—and help demonstrate your real-world mastery of the skills needed to help securely and efficiently provide Microsoft Office 365 services in any environment.

    Designed for experienced IT pros ready to advance their status, Exam Ref focuses on the critical-thinking and decision-making acumen needed for success at the MCSA level.

    Focus on the expertise measured by these objectives:

    • Manage clients and end-user devices
    • Provision Microsoft SharePoint Online site collections
    • Configure Microsoft Exchange Online and Skype for Business for end users
    • Plan for Exchange Online and Skype for Business

    Get more info: https://www.microsoftpressstore.com/store/exam-ref-70-347-enabling-office-365-services-9781509300679

    Featured Free eBook

    Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Web Apps for Developers

    This book focuses on providing essential information about developing web applications hosted on Azure Web Apps. It is written with the developer who has experience using Visual Studio and the .NET Framework in mind. If Azure Web Apps is new to you, then this book is for you. If you have experience developing for Azure Web Apps, then this book is for you, too, because there are features and tools discussed in this text that are new to the platform.

    Download this eBook: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/microsoft_press/archive/2015/06/09/free-ebook-microsoft-azure-essentials-azure-web-apps-for-developers.aspx

    Featured Sample Chapter

    Using Windows PowerShell Remoting

    This chapter is from Windows PowerShell 3.0 First Steps, by Ed Wilson.

    With Windows PowerShell 3.0 running a command on a remote computer is as easy as running the command on your local computer; in some cases, it is even easier.

    • Windows PowerShell remoting
    • Configuring Windows PowerShell remoting
    • Troubleshooting Windows PowerShell remoting

    When you need to use Windows PowerShell on your local computer, it is pretty easy: You open the Windows PowerShell console or the Windows PowerShell ISE, and you run a command or a series of commands. Assuming you have rights to make the changes in the first place, it just works. But what if the change you need to make must be enacted on a hundred or a thousand computers? In the past, these types of changes required expensive specialized software packages, but with Windows PowerShell 3.0 running a command on a remote computer is as easy as running the command on your local computer; in some cases, it is even easier.

    Read the complete chapter here: https://www.microsoftpressstore.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2222453.

    Author Video

    Yuri Diogenes

    Check out author, Yuri Diogenes, as he talks about how being highly connected and highly mobile are more important than ever. Yuri, the co-author of Enterprise Mobility Suite Managing BYOD and Company-Owned Devices, joins Kevin Remde, and Robert Mazzoli as they explore the world of Mobile Device Management and what design considerations you should think about when architecting your strategy for a Mobile first, Cloud first environment.

    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: