Microsoft Takes a Stab at Virtuous Certification

Time for change clock gear concept smaller

What with end of life coming for Windows Server 2003 this summer (July 14, 2015) and a new version of Microsoft's signature OS (Windows 10) slated to appear this fall, Microsoft has obviously been thinking about how to get IT pros, and the companies and organizations they serve, to migrate forward. The push to move IT organization and skilled professionals from old stalwart platforms like Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP into their more modern Microsoft equivalents is on.


In particular, the push to get with the times (or at least with more recent times) is aimed Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 (leading into Windows 10). At least that's the message I'm getting from recently announced programs and promotions currently available from Microsoft Learning. Read on for more details.


New Servers in Every Data Center�


The first item on the radar is called "Move up to Windows Server 2012" in this week's MCP Flash weekly newsletter. What they're really talking about, of course, is the au courant R2 version of that platform. Under this heading, readers are reminded that earning the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is the best way to upgrade their skills, and that the company's Second Shot offer lasts until the end of May.


Under the Second Shot program, if you sign up for the relevant exams through the right URL, and don't pass on the first try, then you have until the end of June to schedule and take that exam a second time — at no additional charge. To sweeten the pot, MS has also recently released a whole slew of training materials (see the Move Up page for links to everything).


Said slew includes free Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) elements with a Windows Server MCSA cert objective domain review video; a "What's New" for Windows Server 2012 R2 Jump Start; an upgrading skills Jump Start; and information on the MCSA Upgrade exam (70-417) which enables those who hold an MCSA on Windows Server 2008 (and some earlier versions, including Windows Server 2003) to upgrade their MCSA to Windows Server 2012 R2 with only a single exam. But don't get too excited: the 70-417 exam encompasses the objective domains for all three of the normal MCSA: Windows Server 2013 exams (70-410, -411, and -412) so you still have to know all that stuff anyway.


�and a new desktop on every end-user PC?


Next up from Mircosoft Learning: a shameless appeal to get IT pros to certify on MCSA: Windows 8(.1) by May 31. The carrots that's being dangled is a free attempt at passing the Windows 10 exam (70-697) when it becomes available later in 2015 (or early 2016).


The same Second Shot coverage that applies to the Windows Server 2012 MCSA also applies to this one, so those who take and fail any of the two exams involved (70-687 and -688, first Configuring, second Supporting, both for Windows 8.1) can schedule a free retake subject to Second Shot limitations, before the end of June 2015.


This offer is also the first I've heard of an exam number for Windows 10 — 70-697 — so I'm guessing it's the Configuring exam for that OS, with a Supporting to follow sometime later (or possibly, it's an upgrade exam that incorporates both Configuring and Supporting elements — not much info available at this point).


And SQL Server All 'Round


And finally, Mircosoft Virtual Academy has released free online training resources for all of the company's SQL Server-related exams: the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 collection (70-461, -462, and -463; Querying, Administering and Implementing a Data Warehouse, respectively), and the four exams for the MCSE: SQL Server 2012 (70-464, -465, -466, and -467; Developing, Designing, Implementing and Designing Business Intelligence Solutions, respectively).


That's a whole lotta free training for zero cash-a-mundo. And that, my friends, is a pretty hard deal to beat. If SQL Server is in (or near) your wheelhouse, then you'll want to check this out!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.