Microsoft Offers Free Windows 10 Cert Exam ... But There's a Catch
In the please all, please none game of software upgrades, Windows 8 decidedly demonstrated that just because technology is new doesn't mean that consumers will willingly embrace it. A fatal overestimation of the number of users who want Windows to drive their touchscreen-enabled tablet or smartphone, as opposed to running a keyboard-and-mouse equipped laptop or desktop PC, had Windows 8 circling the drain almost from the moment it was released.
Notwithstanding fairly catastrophic adoption rates, and a widespread general preference for Windows 7 over its flashy successor, Windows 8 is still out there, and is likely to remain installed on a not inconsiderable number of computing devices at least for another couple of years. So there will likely need to be a modest pool of Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential holders out there. Some MCSA holders have already taken the plunge, but Microsoft is dangling a tantalizing carrot to those who haven't.
From now until the end of May, anyone who either earns an MSCA: Windows 8 certification, or upgrades an existing MCSA OS credential to Windows 8, can certify in Windows 10 later this year free of charge. Oops, did we bury the lead? Yes, Windows 10 certification is on the way, expected to show up sometime in the weeks and months after that May 31 deadine. We've all known it was in the works, of course, but now Microsoft has all but come right out and said when it will be here.
As described above, you will only qualify for a free exam via the Step Up to Windows 10 promotion if you earned an MSCA: Windows 8 credential between Feb. 15 and May 31. If, for example, you celebrated Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) by taking and passing Exam 692 (upgrade from MCSA: Windows XP), Exam 689 (upgrade from Windows 7), or Exams 687 and 688 (MCSA first-timers), well, now your significant other is mad and you don't get to take a crack at Exam 697 (upgrade to MCSA: Windows 10) for free. You're officially losing the war on every front.
Those who do qualify for a free shot at Exam 697 will have until May 31, 2016, to redeem their free MCSA: Windows 10 upgrade exam. Microsoft has a variety of study and exam prep materials available for certification candidates who are ready to take aim at MCSA: Windows 8 certification. You can view a series of videos that outline the changes to Windows implemented between 7 and 8/8.1, or jump right into exam preparation videos via Microsoft Virtual Academy.