Upgrading to the MCSA Windows 10 and announcing the retirement of Windows 7 exams

October 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 2 Comments
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Hi, can I still upgrade from windows 8.1 to MCSA 10, by taking 70-697?

While researching this reader’s question, I went to the Microsoft certification site and discovered that the MCSA: Windows 8/8.1 was no longer listed anywhere on the site, including in the retired certifications list. The only desktop MCSA described is the Windows 10 MCSA.

I’m confident that the information we reported in November 2016 is no longer current, and students should look at the Microsoft site first to determine which exam to take.

I also reached out to Microsoft regarding the exams for MCSA: Windows 10. Their official response was that it was no longer possible to upgrade from the Windows 8 certification. The only way to achieve a MCSA: Windows 10 is  to pass two exams, 70-697 and 70-698. Passing only one of these exams earns you the MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional), but nothing more.

The death of desktop certs

If you look at the most recent Microsoft certification paths, you’ll see that the MCSA: Windows 10 is listed as a point on the path to MCSE: Mobility.

mcse 2017

Once you’ve earned the MCSA, taking one more “elective” exam (70-398, 70-695, or 70-696) will earn you the MCSE: Mobility credential. Current and future Microsoft certifications will be divided into the following categories that reflect Microsoft’s move away from local installation:

  • Mobility
  • Cloud
  • Productivity
  • Data
  • App Builder
  • Business
Grab your Windows 7 certification while you still can

After a long, hard run, Microsoft has finally released retirement dates for Windows 7 certifications. All of the following exams will expire on July 31, 2018:

70-680: Windows 7, Configuring
70-685: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
70-686: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator

As of this writing, each of these exams earns the MCP, but no credit toward an MCSA or MCSE.

Happy certifying!

-George Monsalvatge

Microsoft changing Windows 10 certification paths; Windows 8/8.1 certifications to retire in December 2016

November 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 4 Comments
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the Official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published. Click our blog’s Certification Paths category to find the latest posts by date on this topic.

Test takers, take note: Windows 8 and 8.1 certifications are being retired in December, while Windows 10 certification paths are changing. If you are only one test into the two-test sequence, be sure to schedule your exam before the retirement.

These exams will no longer be available after December 31, 2016:

  • 70-687: Configuring Windows 8.1
  • 70-688: Supporting Windows 8.1
  • 70-689: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows 8
  • 70-692: Upgrading Your Windows XP Skills to MCSA Windows 8

If you have passed either the 687 or the 688, but you do not pass the sister exam, you will not have a valid certification after December 31.

What to do if you still need that MCSA: Windows 8 in your certification wallet

You may not know that if you hold an older certification – even as far back as Windows 2000 – you can bypass the two-exam path to a MCSA: Windows 8 and take a single upgrade exam.

You can take the 70-692 and earn the MCSA: Windows 8 if you hold any of these old-school certifications:

  • MCDST: Windows XP
  • MCSA: Windows 2000
  • MCSA: Security on Windows 2000
  • MCSA: Messaging on Windows 2000
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2003
  • MCSA: Security on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSA: Messaging on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE: Windows 2000
  • MCSE: Security on Windows 2000
  • MCSE: Messaging on Windows 2000
  • MCSE: Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE: Security on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE: Messaging on Windows Server 2003

You can take the 70-689 and earn the MCSA: Windows 8 if you hold any of these more recent certifications:

  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7
  • MCSA: Windows 7
What to do if you want to jump to the MCSA: Windows 10

There are now two distinct paths for the MCSA: Windows 10 certification. If you have already earned the MCSA: Windows 8, you can upgrade to MCSA: Windows 10 by taking and passing this exam:

If you’re starting at square one, you can earn the MCSA: Windows 10 by passing two exams:

That’s right – there is no separate “upgrade exam” that takes you from an MCSA: 8 to an MCSA: 10. The 70-697 will either upgrade your prior cert, or knock out half of the testing requirements for a brand-new MCSA.

What to do if you’re still in a Windows 7 shop

While you will no longer have the ability to earn Windows 8 and 8.1 certifications, Microsoft has not announced any immediate plans to retire the MCITP in Windows 7. The MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 and MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 are still valid certifications and can be earned with a two-test sequence:

MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7:

  • 70-680: Windows 7, Configuring
  • 70-685: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician

MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7:

  • 70-680: Windows 7, Configuring
  • 70-686: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator

Note that the MCSA: Windows 7 is listed as a “retired certification” on the Microsoft legacy certifications page. (For more information on Microsoft’s newly streamlined certifications, read this post on Born To Learn.)

Note that as of this writing, there do not appear to be any direct upgrade exams from the MSCA: Windows 7 (or its equivalent MCITPs) to the MCSA: Windows 10. Your best bet there is to take the two-exam sequence starting with 70-689 (upgrade to MCSA: Win 8 from MCITP: Win 7) and 70-697 (upgrade from MCSA: Win 8 to MCSA: Win 10). Remember that you need to pass 70-689 before December 31, but you can take the 70-697 at any time in 2017.

Bundle and save with exam vouchers and practice tests from Transcender

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Windows 7 Practice Exams and Bundles

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Happy certifying!
-The Transcender Team

Lightning deal: Microsoft offers FREE upgrades for 2016 MCSA in June

June 16, 2016 at 8:35 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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Microsoft recently announced an incentive for IT pros working toward their MCSA in Windows Server 2012 or their MCSA in SQL Server 2012/2014: finish your certification by June 30, 2016, and earn a free voucher for the 2016 upgrade exam.

Upgrade path for Windows Server 2016

The MCSA in Windows Server 2012 requires three exams:

  • 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
  • 70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012
  • 70-412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

If you have all three under your belt by June 30, you’ll qualify for a free voucher to sit exam 70-743: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016. No exam details are available at this time.

Upgrade path for SQL Server 2016

The MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 also requires three exams:

  • 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
  • 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
  • 70-463: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014

Interestingly, although only one upgrade exam number is shown for SQL Server 2016 (70-762), it looks like there are actually three separate upgrade options:

  • Earn an MCSA: SQL Server 2016 (Database Development) by taking 70-762: Developing SQL Databases
  • Earn an MCSA: SQL Server 2016 (Database Administration) by taking 70-762: Provisioning SQL Databases
  • Earn an MCSA: SQL Server 2016 (Business Intelligence Dev) by taking 70-762: Developing SQL Data Models

Again, Microsoft hasn’t released any exam objectives or details at the time of this post.

Do I have time to study?

Absolutely. Transcender has a full range of practice tests, e-learning, and virtual labs for each track, including a 30-day online access version of the practice tests:

What if I already have an MCSA in 2012 / 2014?

The wording was “between now [June 2] and June 30, 2016,” so this offer is probably limited to people who haven’t yet passed all the required tests. You can see Microsoft’s original post at the Born To Learn blog, and ask whether the offer extends to those who already have their certification in hand. However, as a certified professional, you should already be receiving emails from Microsoft each time a free beta exam is released (like the recent offer for the 70-698), so if you don’t qualify for this deal, odds are that a similar one will come your way.

Happy certifying!

~ The Transcender Team

Announcing Microsoft’s FREE upgrade exam for Win 8 MCSAs

March 30, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Are you a Windows 8 MCSA? If you are, and you earned your MCSA: Windows 8 certification between February 15, 2015, and May 31, 2015, you can take Exam 70-697: Configuring Windows Devices for free. Doing so will earn you the MCSA: Windows 10 certification.

To take advantage of this offer, you MUST sign up using the link on the Microsoft site, and you MUST take (and pass) the exam no later than May 31, 2016.

Because you are limited to one free exam attempt, you may want to take advantage of Transcender’s full range of prep materials. We offer the Microsoft Practice Exam for 70-697 MSCert: Configuring Windows 10 Devices, an online Practice Lab with virutalized machines, and professional e-learning courses with 18.5 hours of instruction.

If you earned your MCSA: Windows 8 after the cutoff date, you can still register to take exam 70-697 and earn the MCSA: Windows 10 – which is still a solid move for your certification career.

Limited time remains to earn many MCTS, MCPD, and MCITP certifications before July 31

June 9, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published. Click https://transcender.wordpress.com/category/certification-paths/ to find the latest posts by date on this topic.

If you’ve been working toward a certification in certain MCPD, MCITP, or MCTS tracks, you will want to take note of the following upcoming exam retirements. As always, having a retired exam in your certification track does not invalidate the certification – but if you miss the window to take the exam, you will have to hope the tests you’ve already passed also count toward a current certification track.

Windows Server MCTS, MCITP, and 2003 MCSA

The following Windows Server exams are retiring on July 31, 2015:

  • 70-643: TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring
  • 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
  • 70-649: TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
  • 70-659: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
  • 70-669: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization
  • 70-693: PRO: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator

These exams affect the following tracks:

MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 – the 70-643 and 70-647 are two of the required exams for this five-exam track. It’s not yet listed as a “legacy” certification, but unless you have the other three exams under your belt, you may be better off aiming for the three-exam track MCSA: Windows Server 2008. (If you do earn the MCITP: EA, you get dual credit for the MCSA: Windows Server 2008.)

MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2 – 70-659, 70-669, and 70-693 are the last of the available exams for this three-exam track. As with the MCITP: EA, you lose the chance to finish this track after July 31. Past that date you’ll have to earn the three-exam track MCSA: Windows Server 2008.

If you have the MCITP: EA, the MCITP: VA, or the MCSA 2008, you can take exam 70-417 to upgrade to the MCSA Windows Server 2012. There is no expiration presently listed for that upgrade track.

The 70-649: TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist provides combined credit for the 70-640, 70-642, and 70-643 exams – but only if you also earned the MCSA in Windows Server 2003. Those exams count toward the MCITP: EA or MCITP: VA, which in turn are equivalent to the MCSA: Windows Server 2008.

Windows Client MCTS

The following Windows client OS exam are retiring on July 31, 2015:

  • 70-681: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying

The retirement of this exam will retire the MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration certification. The only remaining Windows 7 MCTS will be the MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration (70-680).

This retirement does NOT affect the current Windows 7 MCITP certifications, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician (70-680 and 70-685) and Enterprise Desktop Administrator (70-680 and 70-686).

Visual Studio MCPD

The following Visual Studio 2010 exams are slated to retire:

  • 70-518: PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4
  • 70-519: PRO: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4

These exams represent the last chance for you to bump your Visual Studio 2010 MCTS certification to either MCPD: Windows Developer 4 or MCPD: Web Developer 4, so if you plan to earn either of those designations, be sure to schedule the applicable exam before July 31, 2015.

SQL Server MCTS, MCITP

The following SQL Server exams are retiring on July 31, 2015:

  • 70-433: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Deployment
  • 70-450: PRO: Designing, Optimizing, and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • 70-451: PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

The 70-433 is required to earn the MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development and counts toward the MCITP: Database Developer 2008. The 70-450 and 70-451 are required for both MCITP tracks for SQL Server 2008. Your only other certification option for SQL Server 2008 is the two-exam MCSA: SQL Server 2008.

Microsoft recently announced that the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 will be the final MCSA track for SQL Server. For SQL Server 2014, only the pro-level MCSE: SQL Server 2014 will be offered. You can read the FAQ for more information on the upcoming change.

SharePoint MCTS, MCITP, and MCPD

No exams are scheduled to retire in this category until January 2016.

Lync and Lync Server

Microsoft released an update to these retirements on July 1:

The retirement date of Microsoft Lync 2013 exams have been moved to November 30, 2015. This is good news for those who want to achieve Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Communication in this calendar year. You now have more time to prepare, but be sure to schedule your exam appointment soon! For more details about this retirement date change and the specific exams involved, please see the announcement on Born to Learn blog.

Microsoft will retire all of these exams on July 31, 2015:

  • 74-322: Microsoft Lync Server 2010—Advanced Design and Deployment
  • 74-335: Lync Network Readiness Assessment
  • 70-336: Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • 70-337: Enterprise Voice Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • 74-338: Lync 2013 Depth Support Engineer

These retirements will conclude the availability of the Lync Depth Support Engineer and Lync Network Readiness Assessment specialist certifications. Going forward, Lync will be merged with the MCSA: Office 365 certification and the MCSE: Communication Solutions Expert certification.

Retiring in 2016

Looking ahead, Microsoft has announced that they plan to retire several more exams in January 2016, including 70-66270-66370-66770-66870-459, and 70-460. However, exam retirements are always subject to change, so be sure to check the retirements announcement page a minimum of three months before you plan to take an older certification exam.

Happy certifying!

~Ann and The Transcender Team

Other posts you may interested in:

Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?

Customer asks: What Windows Desktop Client exam should I take for the MCSA or MCTS?

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Turn and face the change (to Windows Server 2012 R2 exams)

March 12, 2014 at 9:03 am | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints, Vendor news | 6 Comments
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The first song I ever heard by David Bowie was “Rebel, Rebel” and in the video, he had scarlet red hair, an eyepatch, and some stylin’ 70s pantaloons.  If you have followed the (not parallel, but similarly meteoric) careers of Windows Server and British rock star David Bowie, you will see one common thread. Can you guess what it is?

PhasesOfBowie

Mr. Bowie, like Windows Server, has gone through several significant changes of appearance since those early days. The first version of Window Server I ever used was Windows NT 3.1. Despite undergoing several version updates since then, some core functionalities have stayed the same.

WinServerVersions Now there is a new version on the market, Windows Server 2012 R2. Late last year Microsoft announced that they would modify the existing Window Server 2012 certification exams to cover  R2 (70-41070-411, and 70-412). The Windows Server 2012 R2 exam changes officially took effect in January 2014, although we saw staggered rollout in the field. So if you spent good money taking a Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) course on Server 2012, only to find yourself under pressure taking an exam that tested concepts from Server 2012 R2, you may be asking why Microsoft felt the need to update the exam content so soon. I have met several people at Microsoft. They are not mean people who pull the wings off of butterflies; they are actually really, really nice folk.  It’s simply that the exams needed to reflect the new features of Windows Server 2012 R2. David Bowie is not content to just live off his old tunes; he put out his 24th album in 2013.  In similar fashion, Microsoft is not content for certification candidates to know what might soon be a legacy operating systems. They want to ensure that candidates for their flagship MCSA and MCSE certifications are tested on the newest features deployed to the field.

Without further ado, here are the additions to the official exam objectives list for the  70-410, 70-411, and 70-412 exams. 70-410certChanges 70-411certChanges 70-412certChanges While you can purchase the latest album from David Bowie  and listen to it, you may not yet be able to find much training on the new R2 features.  The best way to prepare for this exam is to set up a couple of servers and work through each of the tasks listed in the exam objectives. You can get a free evaluation copy of Windows Server 2012 R2. There aren’t a lot of books on Windows Server 2012 R2 yet. I would use TechNet and other online resources to study the information on each sub-objective. I find that Microsoft generally pulls test questions from the examples in TechNet. I would ensure that I was 100% confident with each sub-objective listed on the prep guide before attempting the live exam. Reviewing information on a particular sub-objective will ensure that you will not see anything that you are not familiar with on the exam.

If you need extra hands-on experience but do not want to spend hours configuring a server, try using the FREE virtual labs at the following link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/bb467605. These labs allow you to have 90 minutes of practice lab time on a Windows Server for FREE.

We will be cranking out the Windows  Server 2012 R2 updates for the 70-412 Transcender practice exam in the next few weeks. (Drop a comment here to be added to our notification list.) And you better believe I’ll be listening to a little David Bowie while we do it.

You can check out the already updated R2 Transcender practice tests here:

  • 70-410, Installing and Configuring R2
  • 70-411, Administering R2
Until next time,
George Monsalvatge

Customer asks: What Windows Desktop Client exam should I take for the MCSA or MCTS?

April 15, 2013 at 9:37 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 1 Comment
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published. Click https://transcender.wordpress.com/category/certification-paths/ to find the latest posts by date on this topic.

In response to a recent post, blog reader Raj asked,

Please tell me which certification is best for Windows 7 – MCSA or MCTS ?? And how many exams I need to give to pass that particular exam. Also, I would like to know the validity of that certification.

The good news is that until January 31, 2014**, you don’t have to choose; the same exam counts towards both certifications. The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credentials are one-test certifications: one exam, and you’ve earned it. These are the same exams that are being phased out by Microsoft in favor of the new MCSA/MCSE certification family. The MCSA/MCSE credentials will require that you pass a minimum of three exams.

During the overlap period, however, select MCTS exams will serve double duty and count toward both certification families. We love a 2-for-1!

**ETA 8/15/2013: as Microsoft has changed several of the exam retirement dates since this post was written, please be sure to check the exam retirement master list or contact Microsoft directly to ensure the exam you need is still active.

What about the MCITP for desktop clients?

The MCITP desktop certifications (Windows Vista and Windows 7) are dependent on their underlying MCTS certifications, so these are being phased out as well. You only have three months left to take a Vista exam; all Vista-related exams are retiring on July 31, 2013.

The MCITP for Windows 7 is retiring on January 31, 2014. Please note that the actual exams are not being retired on that date; they’re being repurposed to the new certification paths of MCSA and MCSE. So after January 31, 2014, you won’t earn the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 or the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 certifications, but you can still take Exams 680, 685, and 686.

Also, any MCTS and MCITP certification will stay on your Microsoft transcript after the certification itself is retired, and you can mention it on your resume and to hiring managers for as long as it seems relevant to do so.

How does the MCITP relate to the MCSA?

Until January 31, 2014, the MCITP: EDST and the MCITP: EDA in Windows 7 are both functionally equivalent to the MCSA: Windows 7. To earn the MCSA: Windows 7, you have to pass this exams:

plus one of these two exams:

If you have already passed these exams, you should have received a notice from Microsoft that you were retroactively granted the MCSA as well.

The MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista and the MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista are not functionally equivalent to the MCSA for Windows 7, and Microsoft has not announced an upgrade path (as of the time of this post).

Why should I still care about MCTS?

The MCTS is the last of the one-test certifications. If you need a Microsoft certification under your belt today, the clock is ticking down to do so. Because the Windows 7 MCTS exams count towards the MCSA in Windows 7, you lose nothing by taking them.

There are only two MCTS level exams for Windows desktop operating systems:

If you don’t have experience in Windows 7 desktop client, you can take the 70-620 for a few more months.

Okay, so what test do I take today?

Continue Reading Customer asks: What Windows Desktop Client exam should I take for the MCSA or MCTS?…

Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?

September 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Study hints | 40 Comments
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Editor’s note: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date.

In response to a recent post, blog reader Zappy asked,

I am new to Windows Server certifications and I currently hold none. I am thinking of getting certified but I am not sure if I should begin with Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012. I have a fair amount of experience in 2008. What would you suggest?

The knee-jerk response is “Forget 2008; study for the cert that will have the longest shelf life.” However, there are a few factors to consider before writing off a 2008 certification entirely. Those factors are:

  • the number of exams required to earn a certification
  • the desired time frame for earning a certification
  • the user’s level of experience with 2008 versus 2012
  • how soon the user can expect 2012 to be the standard in his or her particular industry

For the sake of demonstration, I’m going to look only at Windows Server certifications, and not specialties such as Lync, .NET, SharePoint, or Exchange. (You can find more information on those certification paths here.) I’m also going to stick with entry-level and mid-level certs, since you’d be earning those anyway as you blaze towards the MCSE or MCM.

(Remember: These recommendations are for someone who, as of late 2012, has not yet taken any Microsoft exam and needs to factor exam retirement dates into a certification strategy.)

Do it now: Be off like a shot

No matter which path you decide to pursue, do it now. The perfect time to buy your first Microsoft exam voucher is during the Second Shot promotion. That means that if you take an exam between now and May 30, 2013 and fail it, you can sit for a free retake. You can buy Second Shot assurance for a single exam or for a multi-exam voucher pack (which typically earns you a bulk discount on exam fees as well).

It only takes one

Remember that passing one certification exam, even if it’s part of a multi-exam certification track, earns you the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credential. As a member of the Microsoft Certification Program, you have access to MCP Flash emails from Microsoft, and you can share your transcript with others to show your progress towards a specific certification.

Single-exam certs: testing the Microsoft waters

In the “need a cert now” category, you can obtain a Microsoft certification with just one test — and it will count toward a higher-level certification, should you choose to pursue one. However, one-test certs are only offered for Windows Server 2008. The three server specializations are:

Remember that these exams include Windows Server 2008 R2 material, so you absolutely must be familiar with R2 before sitting an exam.

Our recommendation: if you’ve never sat for any Microsoft test and don’t know what to expect, combining Second Shot with a one-test cert might be the perfect low-stress entrance strategy, even if it “only” earns you an MCTS Server 2008 credential. If you go this route, choose either the 70-640 or the 70-642, since these also count toward the newly fledged MCSA in Server 2008 (more on that in the next section).

70-643 alone is not relevant to the MCSA 2008, so look at the exam’s objectives, and only choose it if you need this certification in your current job (and your boss is paying).

Three to five exams: not all middle-tier certs are created equal

Things get a bit murky as you move up the Server 2008 certification ladder. Having divided Generation 2008 certifications into five MCTS (entry level) and three MCITP (mid level) exam tracks, all covering different job roles and skills, Microsoft recently collapsed the varied tracks back into a revised MCSA, and added the upper-tier MCSE options. However, the MCITP tracks are still active. Depending on the track, each MCITP will either be phased out in July 2013 or rolled into the new generation of certifications.

You can obtain an MCITP in a Windows client or in Server 2008 R2 by taking three to five exams. The three server paths are Enterprise, Server Admin, and Virtualization Admin.

Earning the MCITP: Server OR the MCITP: Enterprise automatically snags you an equivalent MCSA: Windows Server 2008. However, Server can be earned in only three exams, while Enterprise takes five. A MCSA: Server 2008 plus the 70-417 upgrade exam can then earn you the MCSA: Server 2012.

The MCITP: Virtualization also allows you to upgrade to MCSA: Server 2012 — but, confusingly, you can’t upgrade it to an MCSA: Server 2008. Microsoft has dropped it from this list of current MCITP tracks; also see this blog post.

Our recommendation: Continue Reading Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?…

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: My week at TechEd 2012

June 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Transcender news, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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TechEd 2012 Orlando has come and gone. A great time was had by all. Now it’s time to go home and process the volumes of information, and hopefully share some of the highlights with you in the process. Windows 8 is the first one that comes to mind.

Microsoft featured Windows 8 in the keynote presentation. This operating system is a bit different from previous versions in that there is a heavily redesigned front-end, and it is designed with touch screens in mind. In fact, they had a DJ use a virtual mixing board using the Windows 8 platform to lay down a beat or two.

While the DJ demonstration did not really give me a clear sense of what Windows 8 can do beyond tablet integration, I will say the President of the Server Business at Microsoft gave a great overview of the future of Windows Server 2012. The keynote speeches gave attendees a quick look at the new operating systems and products and were a great kickoff to the week. You can view video recaps of the keynote speeches in the comfort of your own home: http://northamerica.msteched.com/#fbid=jT4iGRg006A

Another TechEd favorite are the hands-on labs. These labs are, hands down, the most popular part of the program. If you could find an empty seat, then you could play around with the latest technology. My technology of choice this year was Server 2012, Windows 8, and SQL Server 2012.

Microsoft offered discounts on existing exams and the opportunity to take beta exams for attendees. There was a Prometric test center where you could take your exams. According to Prometric, the 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012  and 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 exams were the most popular exams taken at TechEd.

I took the 70-687 Configuring Windows 8 and the 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 beta exams. In past years, the test center was isolated and the whole exam process was effortless and very, very quiet. Not so much this year. The testing computers had some hardware issues, and the test center was about as quiet as a Widespread Panic concert on New Year’s Eve. Having said that, I’m sure the noise level was mostly due to the fact that people (read: fellow geeks) were very, very worked up about the new MCSE and MCSA certifications.

Which brings me to the newly announced certification tracks. Our good friends at TrainSignal Training filmed two great short clips of Don Field, Sr. Director of Product Management at Microsoft Learning, talking about the new MCSA and MCSE certifications as they relate to the new Windows Server 2012. Be sure to check these out if you missed the discussions at TechEd:


The workshop sessions for Server 2012 were also very popular. It seemed that every Server 2012 and System Center 2012 session that I attended jammed about 1,000 people into a space that should only hold 750. The SQL Server 2012 sessions were especially well attended, particularly those for the Business Intelligence tracks. Several of these great sessions are available online, so I recommend that you watch them while you can:

Windows Server 2012 Overview

The 12 Reasons to Love Microsoft SQL Server 2012 

Building Windows 8 Metro style UIs 

You can find the complete list of TechEd videos here on Channel 9.

Two years ago at TechEd 2010 in New Orleans, Microsoft made a big push for the Windows Phone. They gave out hats, shirts and had lots of presentations featuring the phone and its technology. Fast forward to TechEd 2012. I saw a lot of attendees carrying iPhones and I did not feel a lot of buzz for the Windows Phone. This year Microsoft gave out Windows Phone visors instead of hats. Where are all the Windows Phone fans?! I missed all that Windows Phone love!

There were a zillion (UN-official count by me as I walked the expo floor) people at TechEd this year. The show actually sold out which was surprising considering the stagnant economy. Here are some other interesting facts about TechEd:

  • Breakfast is prepared by 90 chefs and they serve 40,000 slices of bacon.
  • An attendee at TechEd will walk close to 30 miles over the duration of the conference. The Orlando Convention Center is a pretty big place.
  • You need to visit a vendor’s booth and ask where the after-party is. Apparently there are after-parties that require an invitation from the vendor to get in to. They are for great for networking and meeting new contacts.

If you didn’t see me jammed into the last seat in the back row of that SQL Server 2012 session, maybe you caught me at the Transcender booth. I love working a trade show booth. You get to visit with customers and hear feedback about your product. I hope you had the chance to stop by and say Hello. We gave away lots of swag, talked to plenty of friendly faces, and noted every last one of your requests for the new Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, and Windows 8 practice tests. I can assure you: we are definitely working on this.

Yours Truly is the second from the right. Josh Hester is the man in the green shirt.

After a long, long, long week, the Transcender gang hit Universal Studios for a chance to mingle with the conference attendees and various other characters.

The week was a lot of fun, but now it’s back to work.

(Of course, even if you weren’t among the elite attendees of TechEd, you can still run a pre-release copy of the new operating systems from their Springboard series. You just have to do the hard work of installation yourself, and no one will serve you bacon while you do it.)

Get Started with the Springboard Series for Windows 8

Download Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate (RC) 

Download Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Until next time,

–George Monsalvatge

Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA)

May 14, 2012 at 8:15 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | 39 Comments
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(ETA 10/01/12: Microsoft is still rolling out changes to these tracks. Be sure to check Microsoft Learning, Born To Learn, and our blog for the most current information on MCSA and MCSE. Because exam retirements are subject to change without notice, please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published.)

We also recommend you review our post on merging your MCITP with the MCSA: Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?

Yesterday a vendor called me on the phone and said that he had a great price on the latest MCSE classes. He went on to explain that these classes taught all the latest, hottest technologies. They were so virtualized, a team of physicists argued over their very existence. They were so far up in the cloud, you needed a telescope to find your exam. Once he’d wound down the hyperbole, I asked him what operating system was covered in the classes, and he proudly told me, “Windows Server 2003.”

I have news for you, buddy: Windows Server 2003 is nine years old. The problem is that MCSE, as a certification, became both the gold standard for HR staff and a synonym for the “brand” of Microsoft certification. When Microsoft retired those certifications in favor of the MCITP and MCPD and MCTS in 2005, they had problems selling the switch to die-hard certification holders. More importantly, it faced uneven adoption in the business realm. No one really jumped on the bandwagon. Human Resource managers and hiring managers still referred to MCSA and MCSE in job listings.  Vendors who called me on the phone only knew “MCSE” and “MCSA.” (Sales people in my own office still do not understand the differences between MCTS and MCITP, but at least they realized the MCSE was gone.) I’ve had students tell me they’ve applied for recent jobs that cited a MCSE as a requirement. I guess Microsoft felt the time was right to reanimate the dead MCSA and MCSE certifications. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now–that clueless vendor had it half-right. The MCSE and MCSA are back!

The new MCSE is not your Dad’s MCSE. First of all, MCSE now stands for Microsoft Certified SOLUTIONS EXPERT, not Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.  If you attain the new and re-released MCSE, you are an expert in Microsoft solutions, not an engineer. (You are an engineer if you passed a lot of physics and calculus classes.) The new MCSA is now called Microsoft Certified SOLUTIONS ASSOCIATE, instead of  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. That also makes more sense. If you attain the MCSA you are certified in various Microsoft solutions, but not necessarily a sysadmin. The old MCSE made you pass several tests based on the Windows operating system plus an elective subject, like Exchange Server or SQL Server. The new MCSE currently offers certifications in MCSE – Private Cloud and MCSE SQL Server 2012. Going forward, Microsoft will offer more MCSE certifications as new versions of products are released. Look for the MCSE Data Platform certification to roll out tests in June 2012. The new MCSA is similar the old MCSA. Microsoft currently offers certifications in MCSA Windows Server 2008 and MCSA SQL Server 2012, but will offer more MCSA certifications as new versions of products are released. To get the MCSA: Windows Server 2008, you would have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-640 – windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 – Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-646 – Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t there already a certification for someone who passed the above tests? Yeah, it was called the MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008. The good news is that if you’ve been studying toward these exams, you haven’t wasted your precious certification time. The Private Cloud certification requires that you pass the following:

  • Exam 70-640 – windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 – Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-646 – Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator
  • Exam 70-247 – Configuring & Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012  OR  Exam 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization
  • Exam 70-246 – Configuring Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

The 70-246 and 70-247 exams should be released this summer. The SQL Server 2012 MCSE Server certification has two different platforms:  Data Platform or Business Intelligence. To get the MCSE: Data Platform, you have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-462 – Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • Exam 70-463 – Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-464 – Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • Exam 70-465 – Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012

If you have a MCTIP: Database Developer 2008 certification or MCTIP: Database Administrator 2008 certification on SQL Server 2008, you can upgrade to the MCSE: Data Platform by passing the following:

  • Exam 70-457 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 1
  • Exam 70-458 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 2
  • Exam 70-459 – Transition your MCTIP to MCSE: Data Platform

To get the MCSE: Business Intelligence, you have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-462 – Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • Exam 70-463 – Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-466 – Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-467 – Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

If you have a MCTIP: Business Intelligence 2008 certification on SQL Server 2008, you can upgrade to the MCSE: Business Intelligence by passing the following:

  • Exam 70-457 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 1
  • Exam 70-458 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 2
  • Exam 70-460 – Transition your MCTIP: Business Intelligence 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence.

These exams should be released later this year. This would be an excellent time to answer some questions I’m sure you have.

What about your MCTS and MCTIP certifications?

Well, you will still have those, but as time goes by they will retire.

If I get a new MCSA or new MCSE certification, will I have to recertify?

You betcha, brothers and sisters. The MCSA and MCSE certification will probably last only about 3 years before you have to recertify.  What constitutes recertifying?  You will have to pass a test or series of tests. The MCTS and MCTIP will become  like a Cisco CCNA certification, the CompTIA A+, and other certifications where you will have to recertify every three years. Microsoft wants to keep the MCSE and MCSA certifications relevant.  You can read more about this policy on Microsoft’s site. If you’re still confused, I recommend these informative videos from the Born To Learn blog:

Microsoft Certified Trainers Explain MCSE

In my next blog post, I’ll go over the new “extended matching” item types being rolled out in Microsoft’s exams. Until then, keep your nose clean and your acronyms straight. –George Monsalvatge

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