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?

Microsoft TechEd 2014 — I’ll see you there!

May 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Conferences, Microsoft, Transcender news | 3 Comments
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TechEd 2014 is happening next week in Houston (May 12-15). If you haven’t already heard, this event is SOLD OUT, and no, you can’t just buy tickets from a scalper. (It looks like a limited number of Expo Only passes are available as of this writing, but that’s it.)

IneedTix

Why all the hubbub to attend an annual event? What’s in it for you? Well, not only do you get to attend four days of presentations on the latest tech, but if you’re in the market to upgrade your resume, you’re in luck: Microsoft will be offering 50% off of all MCP exams to attendees at TechEd.

Study hall, free Transcender practice tests, and Hands-On Labs

Not only can you take your MCP exam at TechEd, but you’ll have plenty of support to prepare for your exam. There will be targeted exam prep sessions led by different MCT Ambassadors (check the TechEd schedule as times and locations are released/updated).

Or, you can escape the convention center and study using Transcender practice tests in a quiet environment (including our newly released  70-412, Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services R2). The Study Hall is located in Room 339 on level 3 of the Hilton Hotel this year. The workstations there will also provide you with free e-books and on-demand training from  the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). To get there, just take the sky bridge on the 3rd floor of the Convention Center across to the Hilton Hotel, 3rd level.

I believe one of the greatest features of TechEd is the Hands-On Lab. The Hands-On Lab offers you 214 different labs on different technologies that you can work through at your own pace. For example, if you do not have SQL Server 2014 installed at your office, or have access to a private cloud that you can practice with, the Hands-On Lab is the place to go.

HandsOnLabs

Where’s George? Find me and win a future practice test discount

Myself and the best MCTs on this planet will be working in the Hands-On Lab to help you through any technologies. I’ll also be available in the Study Hall to help set you up with practice tests and study materials.

If you can find me at the Hands-On Lab (or the Study Hall), come on up and say hello. Bonus points if you can pronounce my last name correctly — hint: it’s spelled “Monsalvatge.”

TechEd2014blogPhoto

If you see this smiling mug, snap a photo and post it to social media — or, better yet, snap a selfie WITH me in the frame tag us on Facebook, @Transcender , or Tweet us @TranscenderPrep and we’ll send you a post-show discount!  

Too shy to post your mug to social media? Closet social media Luddite? Not to worry.  You can just give me your contact information (business card, SMS) and I’ll make sure to email you the promo code after the show. 

How to score your 50% off (or FREE) certification exam sitting at TechEd

If you want to take an MCP exam at TechEd, I strongly recommend you schedule it in advance. To do so, go to Prometric.com and then follow these instructions:

  • Choose “United States,”  and then select Texas as the state.
  • Pick test center MC62 or MC63 at the George R Brown Convention Center.
  • You can take 74-409 – Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center for FREE with promo code TENA409.
  • For all other MCP exams, use TENA50 as the Promo Code to get your 50% discount.

If you’re already a TechEd ticket holder and you plan to take advantage of ExamDiscountpalooza, here’s a word of advice from my past experience: the best day to take exams is Sunday. Yes, the test center will be open from Sunday through Thursday, but knocking it out early on Sunday will ensure testing doesn’t overlap your other TechEd sessions. Furthermore, if you happen not to pass your exam, you can retake it after 24 hours have passed instead of paying full price after TechEd is over. And finally, signing up for an early slot lowers your chance of losing your exam seat to a walk-in registrant.

George’s Picks For Events

As a longtime TechEd attendee, I am always blown away by the amount of programming available. Here are my suggestions for the events I’ve marked as “must attend” at TechEd.

The TechExpo is held Monday night from 6-8:30 at the Convention Center. You get to meet the vendors, see what new products are available in the marketplace, and get some neat “swag.” And, oh yes, there is food and drink.

Straight after the TechExpo is the Certification Nation Celebration party. Just show your MCP ID to get in. If you do not have a MCP ID, this is a great opportunity to get certified. Check with the folks at the Study Hall where the celebration will be. You can mix and mingle and share testing stories with other candidates.

Tuesday is networking night from 6:30 to 8:30  at the Convention Center. Get the opportunity to make friends and find people in similar fields.

If you are female, you may want to check out the Women in Technology luncheon from  11:45 to 1:15 on Wednesday. This is another great opportunity to network.

Thursday is the Attendee party. If you have ever been to TechEd before, you know how fun this is. This will be at the Minute Maid park, the home of the Houston Astros or affectionately known as the “Juice Box”. I will see you there.

–George Monsalvatge

MCTS, MCITP, MCPD: What is dead may never die, but rises again, more certified than before

August 14, 2013 at 8:15 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Just over a year ago, George posted a comprehensive list of the exams scheduled to retire on July 31, 2013, which can be summed up as “looks like practically everything.” For a while, it also appeared that all Visual Studio 2010 exams would expire last month.

However, Microsoft listened to customer feedback and extended, or suspended entirely, retirement of some of the more sought-after tests. Next, it turned out that the demise of the MCTS and MCITP was greatly exaggerated as well. While many of the exams for those technologies did expire, Microsoft softened the rollover by shifting many existing 2008 exams to the resurrected MCSE and MCSA certifications, and extended deadlines for certifying in key technologies into 2014.

These zombie tests have escaped the headsman’s axe… FOR NOW. We suggest you not delay your study plans, because by 2014 they may be going back into the grave, never to rise again.

What is dead may never die, but rises again, stronger than before....

What is dead may never die, but rises again, stronger than before….

When you play the game of certs, you upgrade….or you die

While most Visual Studio 2010 exams are gone, if you currently hold an MCPD certification on Visual Studio 2008, you can still upgrade your certifications to Visual Studio 2010.

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0: Upgrade Paths
    • 70-521: Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Developer Skills to MCPD .NET 4.0 Windows Applications Developer. Exam retires July 31, 2014.
    • 70-523: Upgrade: Transition Your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4 Web Developer. Exam retires July 31, 2014.

And although the component exams are retired, those who hold an MCSE on Windows Server 2003 can still take the three-in-one 70-649 to earn the triple home run of three MCTS (Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration, Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration, and Windows Server 2008 Application Platform Configuration ).

  •  Windows Server 2003 MSCE to Windows Server 2008 MCTS: Upgrade Path
    • 70-649: TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist (hurry; retires January 2014)

I Want My MTV..C…ITP…TS

If you are still seeking the elusive one-test certification, the MCTS, these options are still alive and kicking. Expiration dates vary between January and July 2014, and in some cases are still listed as July 2013 on the individual exam pages, so please confirm availability with Microsoft or Prometric:

  • 70-177: Earns the MCTS: Microsoft Project Server 2010, Configuration
  • 70-433: Earns the MCTS: SQL Server 2008, Database Development
  • 70-506: Earns the MCTS: Silverlight 4, Development
  • 70-643: Earns the MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuration (note: as of this writing, this exam is listed as expiring in the overview, but is shown as live until January 2014 on the Microsoft master list)
  • 70-659: Earns the Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
  • 70-662: Earns the MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuration
  • 70-667: Earns the MCTS: SharePoint 2010, Configuration
  • 70-669: Earns the MCTS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization
  • 70-681: Earns the MCTS: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deployment

If you are still working toward an MCITP, these component exams have been extended until January 2014:

  • 70-450: PRO: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Designing, Optimizing, and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution
  • 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
  • 70-663: Pro: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • 70-668: PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator
  • 70-682: Pro: Upgrading to Windows 7 MCITP Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
  • 70-693: Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator

Finally, although the component exams may have been salvaged and reassigned to different certifications, you only have until January 2014 to earn the MCITP or MCTS credential itself. After that date, even if the same exam is still active, it will count toward a different certification.

They’re Dead, Jim

These exams ARE RETIRED as of July 31, 2013. Requiescat in pace.

Windows Client:

70-270 – Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional
70-620 – TS: Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client
70-622 – Pro: Microsoft Desktop Support – ENTERPRISE
70-623 – Pro: Microsoft Desktop Support – CONSUMER
70-635 – TS: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008, Desktop Deployment
70-660 – TS: Windows Internals
70-683 – TS: Windows 7, Preinstalling for OEMs

Windows Server:

70-169 – TS: Windows Small Business Server 7, Configuring
70-290 – Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
70-291 – Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
70-293 – Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
70-294 – Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure
70-297 – Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure
70-298 – Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
70-299 – Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
70-648 – Upgrading your MCSA on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
70-656 – TS: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Configuring
74-679 – Windows Server 2008 Hosted Environments, Configuring and Managing
70-690 – Windows Server 2008 HPC Environments, Configuring and Managing
70-691 – Windows Server 2008 HPC Environments, Developing
70-699 – Windows Server 2003, MCSA Security Specialization Skills Update

Visual Studio:

70-502 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Presentation Foundation
70-503 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Communication Foundation
70-504 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Workflow
70-505 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Forms Application Development
70-536 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework – Application Development Foundation
70-561 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ADO.NET Application Development
70-562 – TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development
70-563 – Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
70-564 – PRO: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
70-565 – PRO: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

SQL Server, Lync, and Office Communications Server:

70-451 – PRO: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Designing and Optimizing Database Solutions
70-452 – PRO: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Designing a Business Intelligence Solution
70-664 – TS: Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Configuring
70-665 – PRO: Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Administrator

The official list of retired Microsoft certification exams is here.

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?…

Don’t let a free exam pass you by: grab Microsoft’s two-for-one offer before June 30

June 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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In their push toward MCSA and MCSE certifications (covered by George here), Microsoft is offering a fairly unprecedented deal on certification exams: pay full price now, get a free upgrade later. How does this compare to other Microsoft promotions, and is it the right deal for you?

The fine print is as follows:

To help you move to the cloud, Microsoft is offering a limited time* “Two for One” exam offer. When you purchase and take a qualifying exam at full price between April 11, 2012 and June 30, 2012, you will be emailed a voucher valid for the next version exam of your chosen technology path, at no additional cost. Your voucher for the second qualifying exam will be emailed to you when the new exams release and will expire 90 days after the new Certification in your technology path becomes available.

Let’s review the conditions that need to be in place for this deal to work for you:

  • You should be ready to pass the current version of your qualifying exam in one of the four “cloud-bound” technology areas: Windows 7 Client (migrating to Windows 8), Windows Server 2008/Private Cloud (migrating to 2012/Private Cloud), Visual Studio 2010 (migrating to Visual Studio 11), and SQL Server 2008 (migrating to 2012: Data Platform or 2012: Business Intelligence).
  • You should be able to pass the current exam(s) by the end of June. You can request up to five exam vouchers in any of the listed paths (which means you would take up to five exams in the next three weeks).
  • You should have a plan in place to hit the ground running once the upgraded version of your exam is released. The clock starts ticking the 90-day countdown as soon as the exam rolls out.
  • You should install and configure the updated versions of your technology as soon as they roll out (such as Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate).
  • You should regularly check (or subscribe to a feed for) Microsoft Learning’s Cloud Certification Overview Page (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-cloud.aspx) for freebies and training offers to work your skills in the new areas.

If that sounds like a workable plan, then head over to Microsoft today and request your cloud-bound voucher.

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 | 37 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

83-640 versus 70-640: Which MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration is which?

February 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Posted in Microsoft | 36 Comments
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Editor’s note: from April 21 to May 7, 2010, you can take the Microsoft Learning Testing Center Survey here: http://deploy.ztelligence.com/start/survey/survey_taking.jsp

As a follow-up to our previous post, here are some points to clarify any confusion between the two tests (70-640 and 83-640) for MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration.

  • 83-640 will gradually replace 70-640: MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration, in 2009. The study objectives are the same for both exams; the content has not changed, just the format.
  • The lab-based exam was beta tested as the 70-113 pilot.
  • Microsoft is using the 83-### numbering scheme to distinguish lab-based exams from the traditional multiple-choice and interactive item-type exams (70-###) and the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist simulation-type exams (77-###).
  • To date, 83-640 has only been rolled out in three countries: Ireland, Singapore, and Canada. There is no word yet on when it will be released in the rest of the world.
  • In areas where 83-640 hasn’t been released, test-takers will take 70-640. Both versions count equally toward certification.
  • The lab-based exam also includes traditional multiple-choice item types. Microsoft does not plan to discontinue that type of question at this time, since some points are better tested in a question/answer format than by demonstrating a technique.

Transcender’s own Performance-Based Testing lab goes live for 83-640

February 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Performance-Based Testing, Transcender news | 3 Comments
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As you may have heard, Microsoft has rolled out a new certification test that uses emulations, rather than simulations, to create a live lab environment inside the test. (Read the full story here.) Although it’s not yet released in the U.S., the new emulation test (83-640) is scheduled to replace 70-640 completely in 2009 as testing centers support the format.

We, the Transcender staff, are thrilled to roll out our very own performance-based lab product. 83-640: MSCert: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring is now available. The product is divided into two sections: Part One, the virtual lab, and Part Two, the more traditional question-and-answer format.

Because of the unique nature of this product, the format is a little different from our other practice tests:

  • Part Two, the standard test form, is a downloadable product that comes with a 3-year license.  It features 160 multiple-choice items and 230 flashcards.
  • Part One, the virtual lab, is an online-access product that comes with a 60-day license.  It features 8 timed scenarios. Each scenario consists of 6 to 10 tasks that can be completed in any way; you can use the command-line interface, the GUI, Power Shell, or any other method.

For the virtual lab scenarios, you create a connection to a Windows Server 2008 virtual server dedicated to your use, and interact with the virtual server online. However, you are not limited to the lab scenario tasks on the virtual machine. You can perform any task in Windows Server 2008,** which makes it ideal for self-study and hands-on practice.  Each virtual machine session lasts for 1 hour, after which you will re-connect and build a new virtual machine.

The Transcender practice tests emulates the actual Microsoft test experience. On the right side of the screen is a list of the scenario tasks; you can scroll through the tasks as you complete them. Your task may require you to configure settings on multiple computers. On the top of the screen, you can navigate between multiple virtual computers by clicking Machines.

83-640 screenshot 1

Once you finish with each scenario, you will be scored for accuracy (partial answers are noted). You can then study the scenario in one of two ways:

  • Read a step-by-step description of the correct actions.
  • View Flash media files that visually demonstrate the correct actions.

83-640 screenshot of answers

Passing exam 83-640 earns you the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credential; it also counts toward the MCITP Enterprise Administrator for Windows 2008 and the MCITP Server Administrator for Windows 2008.

Transcender will continue to sell both 83-640 and 70-640 for as long as Microsoft supports both test formats.  If you already purchased 70-640 from us and would like to upgrade to 83-640, contact our customer service department and you will receive a discounted price on the 83-640 product.

As Microsoft continues to roll out this exam globally, they are also planning emulation exams for the other Technical Specialist (TS) exams for Windows 2008 – 70-642 and 70-643. We will be developing our test prep products for these exams as well.

— George Monsalvatge and blogmistress Ann

**Including blowing up the server, erasing the OS, accidentally raising the domain functional level, etc. Any mistake that can be made in real life can be made here, except that mistakes will be wiped out when your session resets and a new virtual machine is built, hallelujah and pass the cookies. – blogmistress Ann

Can I have fries with that .NET upgrade?

December 1, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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Editor’s note: In honor of the real Turkey Day, here’s the follow-up to Josh’s previous post detailing trends in Microsoft’s .NET certification paths.

If there’s one thing in which to have faith in this downward-spiraling economy, it’s two basic drives of the human soul: the entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of fast food. Ray Kroc would be a good example of such a spirit. Starting as a small-time franchisee of the little-known McDonald’s restaurant in 1953, Mr. Kroc would later take over the restaurant chain from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and build a multi-billion dollar empire based on busy people’s need for cheap, highly fat-saturated food, served right to the window of your car while idling on precious gas fumes. Okay, uh, let’s drive through that example…

With more cars stalled on the economic highway, IT certification has become more valuable.* As fewer lanes are opening up, the need to merge into existing traffic has become even more treacherous. How do you stretch your certification bucks, with times being what they are? After seeing the banquet of .NET certification options spread out on the table (see previous post), overflowing with casseroles of TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) certifications, you’re probably wondering if there’s a something akin to a certification drive-thru: quick, cheap, and highly saturated.

If you have the know-how (and a good practice test like Transcender) but not the stomach for a buffet, .NET upgrade exams just may be the answer. Since breaking down the MCAD and MCSD certification into the smaller TS and PD dishes, Microsoft has also been steadily building upgrade exams to ease the transition. The 550 series exams are value meals that provide instant certification gratification for those with the appetite. These upgrade exams are also cheaper than the full-length TS and PD exams, being only $75 apiece (that’s 40% off the original price).

(Click the diagram for a larger image.)

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

Continue Reading Can I have fries with that .NET upgrade?…

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