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 | 3 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I’m confident that the information we reported in November 2016 is no longer current, and students should look at the Microsoft site first to determine which exam to take.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

Be sure to subscribe to email updates from Transcender to receive future sale alerts, bundles, deals, and discounts!

Windows 7 Practice Exams and Bundles

Windows 8 Practice Exams and Bundles

Windows 10 Practice Exams and Bundles

Happy certifying!
-The Transcender Team

Windows 10 Review, Part 2 – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

March 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Technical Tips, Vendor news | 1 Comment
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After my introductory foray into Windows 10, I was ready to get down to brass tacks and really discover what Microsoft’s new OS was all about. When, suddenly, this happened:


You can’t always get what you want… but if you try, sometimes you might find that you don’t have to re-install. Well, actually that doesn’t really work for Windows, especially with a Technical Preview. But maybe this is a good starting point to discuss how Windows will treat this kind of error, from Windows 8 going forward.

Refreshing Your PC

Windows 10 comes with the fairly painless re-install option introduced in Windows 8, called refresh. Refreshing your PC leaves all of your files and personal settings alone, but reinstalls Windows Store apps for you. Bully for you if you have any of those applications, but more than likely you’ll need to re-install any legacy applications by hand, e.g. the ones that every business user works in. So don’t go throwing away those InstallShield downloads and installer DVDs. But, hey, it’s better than having to reinstall everything, right? Certainly it’s a quick enough procedure if it fixes the problem.

In this case, though, it didn’t fix the problem. Okay, so now I had some investigation to do. Nurse, scalpel, STAT!


Yeah, so surgery didn’t go so well. Good news is I have updated to the latest build (9926). Bad news is my first patient didn’t make it, but, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. So, after three hours of alternating between Candy Crush and Trivia Crack, I’m back on the review beat… Oh, did I plug our great mobile app time-waster yet? Who knows? You might learn something.

Okay, skip the ad — let’s break into the hyped stuff first.

Start Menu 2.0

Fair is foul, and foul is fair. It’s not the same compact program listing you remember. Gentleman, they rebuilt him; they had the technology. That’s right, meet the new Start Menu. Granted, you don’t have to dive into full-screen unless you’re in tablet mode.

Here's the Start Menu!

On the left is your old Programs listing, with fewer functions than the Windows 7 edition, but thankfully more simplistic. If you can’t find the application or document you want, then try clicking on the All apps link. Once here, it helps to know the name of the app you’re searching, because you’re staring at a phonebook-like listing. Reminds me of scrolling through Windows Phone contacts. Or you can get cozy with Cortana (see more about that below) to avoid hunting and pecking every time you need to open something new.

Another note about the lovely new Windows 10 Start Screen, each application displays as a tile and supports live updates, so that you can keep up with the latest Facebook flame war and your cousin’s selfies. If that’s a distraction, then you can move the tiles around, group them, and set them in one of four sizes – small, medium, wide, or large. Not a whole lot of custom options, but hey, at least it’s simple to use.


Internet Explorer 11 comes pre-packaged with two different browser platforms: Edge and Compatibility. Eventually, this will make its way into two completely different browser applications – Spartan and Trident. Spartan will be the experimental, lightning-fast HTML5 engine, while Trident will be the old, reliable browser with the compatibility to handle older web pages with ActiveX, Silverlight, and other retired or soon-to-be-shelved technology.

When in automatic mode, I experienced no lag loading web pages with multimedia, and scrolling and touch-to-zoom seemed responsive and snappy. So I went ahead and ran a quick HTML5 benchmark to get some objective measures … and was quickly disappointed.

Windows 10 IE 11 Edge Peacekeeper Rating

According to the Peacekeeper universal browser test, IE 11 running with Edge scored a measly 406, and only 388 with Compatibility enabled. That’s lower than an iPhone 4s scores, and trust me, that stock browser is sluggish by anybody’s standards! To test whether it was the fault of Windows 10 or Internet Explorer, I installed Google Chrome as a control. Chrome scored a whopping 616. Let’s hope that the new IE only gets better as we move towards the general release.


So, after the limited success of voice activation on the Xbox, the folks at Microsoft brought the voice recognition application Cortana (named after the AI in the Halo franchise) over to the desktop/tablet. She knows your name (after you type it in) and keeps you in the know with the latest news. I tried making friends with Cortana. You should too. But approach with caution. Go ahead and ask her what the weather is today and where Washington, DC is located and you’ll be pleased. But if you ask, “How far am I away from Washington DC?”, she may stop talking to you and instead launch the Bing website. Although, when I asked, “How long would it take for me to get to Washington DC?”, she took a minute or two, and then returned a detailed answer. Of course had I followed her directions I would have ended up in the state of Washington  and not the District. D’oh!

Hello, Cortana.

That said, this is early going for Microsoft’s voice recognition system. But I have no doubt it will rise to the standards of Google’s Speech and Apple’s Siri by general release.

Look out for the third and final installment of my Window 10 Review – What Lies Beneath!

Until then,

Josh Hester aka codeguru

Windows 10 Review, Part 1 – A Tale of Two OSes

March 5, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Technical Tips, Vendor news | 2 Comments
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2011. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well, actually, it was a bummer of a year. Not only did a famous pop star say her final, “no, no, no,” but R.E.M. called it quits and Charlie “Tiger Blood” Sheen got booted off of prime time TV. More seriously, there were several devastating natural disasters—namely the earthquake-tsunami that led to the Fukishima nuclear meltdown and the slew of tornadoes that ripped through Joplin, Missouri.

Perhaps that grim recap puts me in the mindset to review the spectacle that was Windows 8. Rather than screen capping or demoing any of the fledgling OS’s features, Microsoft chose to talk about ARM support at CES. This pushed anticipation into a fever pitch, culminating into the first pre-release later that year. The result was a strange hybrid—one part traditional Windows and another part this thing called Metro, later amended to the Modern UI in 8.1.

Some reviewers would describe it less charitably: more like an OS with schizophrenia, similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, than a cohesive user experience. By the time of its public release, all of its laudable features—such as Microsoft account integration, improved task manager features, and built-in virtual drive mounting—fell away. It all boiled down to that awkward Metro UI for many Windows users and businesses. Oh, and let’s not forget Start-Gate!

So, in my review series on Windows 10 (Technical Preview Build 9841), I plan to start from a baseline of Windows 7 before Microsoft’s misadventures into the Modern UI. If Microsoft itself wants to move right from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, then I too will go ahead and skip any unneeded Windows 8 comparisons. After all, most of you never upgraded to Windows 8 or 8.1 anyway.

The Hype

Two of the features I was most interested in previewing were the Spartan browser with its lightning-fast Edge engine and the streamlined Office suite. I’d also heard the churning rumors regarding the return of the Start menu, and was curious to see whether this was another Microsoft game.

The Setup

To properly evaluate the Windows 10 preview release from a touch standpoint, I installed it on the Asus VivoTab Smart with a Bluetooth keyboard. It came with a dual core Atom processor, 2GB of Ram, 64GB storage, and Windows 8 pre-installed, which I later upgraded it to Windows 8.1. For this preview, I went ahead and did a clean install of Windows 10. The process was relatively painless, but coming from Windows 7, you’ll probably be a bit confused. Since Windows 8, Microsoft is pushing for an OS that’s not just your co-worker, but also wants to be your friend.



Sadly, the Spartan browser and the updated Office suite were not included in the build I installed. Next to the Cortana voice assistant, these are two of the more highly anticipated features, so I’ll review them individually once they come out in a future build.

But good news about that Start Menu… it’s back!


Well, sort of back… more about that in my next post.

Until next time,

Joshua Hester

TechEd 2013 Debriefing: One Developer’s Position

June 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | 2 Comments
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As with each Microsoft convention, much fun was enjoyed by all. Perhaps too much fun,  if that’s possible. Besides the nightly siren call of Rue Bourbon and limitless litany of new product versions (Visual Studio 2013 AND SQL Server 2014 … really?),  there were a few drumbeats that bear repeating.

George and Josh strike a pose.

George and Josh strike a pose


Head in the Clouds

The conference kicked off with the keynote from Brad Anderson. Microsoft continues to improve and promote its cloud offering, known as Windows Azure. For the uninitiated, Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based deployment and management system for applications, services and raw virtual machines.

Although Microsoft announced a huge investment in its data centers, particularly in mainland China, for me the big news was the changes to its previous pricing model. Only running virtual machines will be charged, and billing is now per minute rather than per hour. MSDN server licenses can be used at no charge, and MSDN and MSDN subscriptions with Cloud Essentials or Accelerate will earn free monthly credits for Azure. (See more info at Visual Studio Magazine, http://visualstudiomagazine.com/articles/2013/06/03/microsoft-dramatically-lowers-azure-pricing.aspx).

Continue Reading TechEd 2013 Debriefing: One Developer’s Position…

HOL – Where the Magic is @ MSTechEd

June 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Microsoft | Leave a comment
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Hands On Lab Screenshot

That’s right. Despite being held in Orlando just steps away from the magical world of Disney, the real magic of Microsoft TechEd 2012 was actually found in the hands-on-lab, or HOL for the uninitiated. No, it’s not because I was there helping a lost traveler or two through Microsoft land. It’s because that is where attendees could play with the latest and greatest technologies, whether it involves OLAP cubes, unit testing or GPO policies.  Technologies featured at this year’s lab included Visual Studio 2012, SQL Server 2012, System Center 2012, Windows Server 2012 (including Hyper V), Office 365, Windows 8 and of course, Windows Azure.  You could follow the tasks in the labs or use the virtual environment as a sandbox for your own experimentation.

There were more than 150 different labs, but here are a few titles to tickle your techno-fancy:

  • Deploying Windows 7 to Bare Metal Systems with Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  • Building the Right Software: Generating Storyboards and Collecting Stakeholder Feedback with Visual Studio 2012
  • Developing a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Tabular BI Semantic Model using SQL Server Data Tools
  • Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) with Microsoft Office 365
  • Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 User Interface with Silverlight in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
  • Configuring Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replica
  • Sideloading Metro Style Applications in Windows 8
  • What’s New in Windows PowerShell 3.0

The labs were open longer than most sessions (7am – 7pm most days).

Unless you are soon to be enjoying TechEd Europe in Amsterdam, you may be regretting all of those wild parties and crowded sessions that kept you out of the labs. No worries. These labs will be up for public consumption within the week and available for at least 2 months!

UPDATE: The HOL are up now for public consumption. Go to you myTechEd Web site and get to playing!

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

June 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Kaplan IT Training news, Microsoft, 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

The Year of the Developer

February 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Posted in Technical Tips, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Did I get your attention? I hope so, but let’s be honest: it’s been the Year of the Developer since 1954. As wonderful as it is to have the latest gadget goodness in your hand, without developers, that gadget does a whole lot of nothing. Arguably, the adoption of shiny devices and powerful operating systems is directly proportional to the software that runs on it.

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

But I do have a more salient point beyond giving the developer community a pat on the back.

Development in 2012

What does the future look like? Better yet, which skills should you focus on in the upcoming year? Justin at TechRepublic actually beat me to the punch on this one, so rather than rehash the whole article, I’ll just throw in my two cents.

Mobile Development

This one should be fairly obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how fragmented the mobile field really is. An iPhone, Android, and Blackberry device all do very similar things and contain very similar components and UIs, but the back-end development for these platforms is entirely different.  Let’s not even discuss the form factor differences between these smartphones and their tablet cousins.

I predict the ascendance of uniform development kits like Red Foundry and  PhoneGap/PhoneGapBuild to level the playing field. PhoneGap, in particular, leverages Web development skills such as jQuery and HTML5.

NoSQL Continue Reading The Year of the Developer…

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