The Curious Case of MCSA: Windows Server 2016
Every month, one of the Microsoft Press folks posts an item to the Born to Learn blog called the "round-up" to talk about recent releases. This month's roundup, headlined "Microsoft Press Round-Up for February 2017" and dated Feb. 2, captured my attention as I started browsing through it and saw two new Exam Ref titles:
Two out of three ain't bad, but it's not a full set yet. Source: Microsoft Press
70-740 Installation, Storage and Compute with Windows Server 2016
70-741 Networking with Windows Server 2016
Knowing that these two exams are also the first two required for the MCSA: Windows 2016 cert, I bet myself that the next title would be 70-742 Identity with Windows Server 2016, because that's the third exam required to earn that certification.
Windows Server 2016 went into public release in late September of last year, and none of these three exams was available to beta test three months ago. So, I've been expecting the full set to show up in a Microsoft Press Round-up piece since last month. Hence, my certainty that Microsoft Learning would deliver the hat trick as soon as those first two items scrolled past on my screen.
As you can read on the book page for the 70-742 title at microsoftpressstore.com, however, the book's not scheduled to appear until May 5 — about 12 weeks away as I write this (12 weeks plus a few days, actually). What gives, one might ask?
Why It's Hard to Keep Up with Fast Times
As some of you may know, I've written a few Microsoft certification books myself, and I can tell you it's a lot of work to pull one of these titles together. With Microsoft's new "OS as a service" model, updates and changes keep showing up until a new OS is officially released — and forever afterward, in fact, on a regular schedule.
This makes understanding what to cover difficult without having taken the actual certification exam. You also have to read between the lines on the exam objectives and other official info very, very carefully.
I'm guessing that, in the case of the 70-742 exam, something happened once the exam was released in early November that somehow delayed the book. I found its author, Andrew Warren, on LinkedIn fairly easily and sent him a message to inquire. My own experience teaches me that, from time to time, things come up that cause publication delays.
Sometimes it's shaky exam objectives that need a lot of research and exam experience to work through. Sometimes delays result from a lack of resources. (Mr. Warren also wrote the 70-741 book, and if he was working alone, then it's entirely possible he had to finish that one first, before starting on the 70-742 at all.) Sometimes it's personal — illness, family emergencies, marriage or divorce, a new addition to the family.
The real challenge, however, is keeping up with the technology. So much of what we know, do, and think is brand-new. I saw a snippet in another Born to Learn blog post that really struck me. To whit:
"[Job] roles that didn't exist four years ago are now prevalent across various jobsites. More and more employees are having to reinvent themselves to be relevant (let alone successful) in today's day and age."
If that's true for IT professionals — and I sincerely believe that it is — then it goes double for people like myself and Andrew Warren, who make part or all of our living by attempting to keep up with what's new, interesting and potentially valuable, usually before it's completely finished baking in the oven.
Keeping pace makes for interesting times. When documenting a user interface copiously with screen shots and accompanying text, even small changes to a UI can throw a monkey wrench into work that seeks to clearly label such things. The potential examples are endless and, for those of us who've lived through them, alternately vexatious and grounds for despair.
Tech professionals need to know this stuff, however, and somebody has to pick up the spade and shovel the necessary material to build our understanding, skills, and knowledge.
Come May 5, I'm sure both Mr. Warren and I will heave a huge sigh: He in relief and I in sympathy. It's a tough business, and one that can only be endured and completed much of the time.
Hopefully, the new and forthcoming Windows Server titles will last long enough to do everybody some good: the writers and editors who put them together, the publisher who offers them for sale, and the readers in need of such wisdom and insight as their contents can deliver.