I'm an MCSA

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
As widely reported by others, those with MCITP certifications will automatically earn the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification.

This evening I received an email from Microsoft Learning, congratulating me on earning my Microsoft Certification:

Congratulations on earning your Windows Server® 2008 Core certification! We hope you enjoy the benefits of your certification and of membership in the Microsoft Certified Professional community.


Visit the MCP member site (www.microsoft.com/mcp) to download your new logo, certificate, view and share your transcript, and access additional MCP resources. 

. . .

Congratulations once again,
The Microsoft Certification Program Team

I'm not quite sure what the "Windows Server 2008 Core" certification is, but when I checked my transcript I see that I earned the MCSA certification today.

I only need two more exams to earn the MCSE: Private Cloud certification.  I scheduled the first exam for this Friday.  I'll let you know how it goes.


On a side note, the logo builder on the MCP site added a new logo to profile, Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator.  I hope they get that fixed soon.  I already have one of those.

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Announcing Windows Server 2012!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson announced today at the MMS Summit 2012 that Windows Server 8 will be officially named Windows Server 2012.

The new “cloud-optimized OS” is due out... you guessed it... later this year.

Microsoft traditionally names its Server operating systems with the year of release, unlike its desktop operating systems.

Windows Server 2012 is available now in beta, although for now it's still called Windows Server 8 Beta.  The OS still needs to hit its Release Candidate (RC) milestone before it reachs RTM later this year.

If you haven't worked with Windows Server 2012 yet, I encourage you to do so in a virtualized environment to get your head around the differences.  If you don't already have a Hyper-V host server, may I recommend this one.  It's been getting rave reviews!

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The name is 8... Windows 8

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's official, Windows 8 is now, err... Windows 8.

Brandon LeBlanc over on the Blogging Windows blog announced the official name and the two three four versions available:
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows RT
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
There's a nice table (included below) that describes the differences between the first two version, which basically boil down to this - Windows 8 is for home users (can't be joined to a Windows domain) and Windows 8 Pro is for corporate users (can be domain joined and adds business features, like BitLocker, Group Policy, Client Hyper-V, etc.).

Windows RT (Real Time?) is the pre-installed ARM-based version for tablets, mobile devices, and the like.  It will also include the Office suite.  It will not be available for sale separately.

The below chart breaks down key features by edition (this list should not be considered an exhaustive list of features):

Feature nameWindows 8Windows 8 ProWindows RT
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimatex
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tilesxxx
Windows Storexxx
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)xxx
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)x
Internet Explorer 10xxx
Device encryptionx
Connected standbyxxx
Microsoft accountxxx
Installation of x86/64 and desktop softwarexx
Updated Windows Explorerxxx
Windows Defenderxxx
Windows Updatexxx
Enhanced Task Managerxxx
Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)xxx
Better multiple monitor supportxxx
Storage Spacesxx
Windows Media Player xx
Exchange ActiveSync xxx
File historyxxx
ISO / VHD mount xxx
Mobile broadband featuresxxx
Picture passwordxxx
Play Toxxx
Remote Desktop (client)xxx
Reset and refresh your PC xxx
Touch and Thumb keyboardxxx
Trusted bootxxx
VPN clientxxx
BitLocker and BitLocker To Gox
Boot from VHDx
Client Hyper-Vx
Domain Join x
Encrypting File Systemx
Group Policyx
Remote Desktop (host)x

Windows 8 Enterprise is only available to business users with Microsoft Software Assurance agreements.  Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more.  DirectAccess will only be available with Windows 8 Enterprise, as it was before with Windows 7.
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New Microsoft Certifications Will Expire

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
In my earlier post today, I wrote that Microsoft's certification program is being reinvented - Again.  One important fact was briefly mentioned in the video below, taken from the Microsoft News Center website: The new MCSE and MCSD certifications will expire.

At 1:07 the video explains, "Those holding an Expert certification are required to recertify every 2-3 years."  The Expert tier is the new MCSE and MCSD certification.  This is supposed to ensure that their skills are always up to date.

It's unclear whether "out-dated" certifications will simply expire or whether they will completely drop off the transcript altogether.  I hope it's the former.  In my career as a consultant, I work with many customers with systems that are not "current" and are out of extended support.  It's important for these customers to know that I'm certified on their old (and new) platform when performing a migration.

I can also imagine hiring managers for companies with older platforms would be interested in hiring IT Pros with certifications on what they run, not just the latest and greatest.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

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Microsoft Reinvents Certifications - Again

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Everything old is new again.  Today Microsoft announced that it has reinvented its certification program to directly address technology’s evolution to the cloud.  According to their surveys, "Top of mind for companies today is making sure they have the right skills and people in place to help them fully realize the benefits the cloud has to offer."

To that end, Microsoft is reinventing their certification programs to help hiring managers find people who have the skills they expect in their IT environments, now and in the future.  The revamped program is a completely new approach to ensure certified individuals have the skills required to oversee an organization’s journey to the cloud.  Everyone wants to go to the almighty cloud, right?  Microsoft is betting on it.

According to Microsoft News Center:
The new certification framework has been streamlined to three skill levels to make it easier to navigate:
  • The Associate Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification, which provides a clear starting point for job seekers early in their technology career. Candidates must prove they have the required skills to hit the ground running. This level represents a foundation and is the prerequisite certification necessary to earn an MCSE.
  • The Expert Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) or its developer equivalent, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and is Microsoft’s flagship certification for individuals who want to lead their organization’s transition to the cloud. These certifications recognize IT professionals and developers with broad and deep skill sets across Microsoft solutions.
  • The Master Level is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) certification that differentiates the select few from their peers and represents the highest bar of knowledge and skills validation.
Microsoft is calling MCSE its flagship credential because it is the level that most people will aspire to, says Don Field, senior director of product management for Microsoft. It validates an individual’s ability to design and build solutions that may integrate multiple technologies, versions and products. These are the new kinds of skills that are needed for the cloud.

Microsoft had to ditch the MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) certification in 2009, due to several countries and municipalities having a problem with the term "Engineer".  In some locations "Engineer" has a very distinct meaning and is regulated by their governments.  The MCSE certification was replaced with the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) certification series and a plethora of very targeted certifications (MCTS).  
This added a ton of confusion, especially for those like me who invested for years in the MCSE certification.  Microsoft Learning went so far as to publish an article, "The MCSE is dead, its time to move on".  Now that they're bringing the MCSE back, I can imagine the new level of confusion this might bring, especially for all those hiring managers.  "Are you a new MCSE or an old MCSE?"

This will undoubtedly cause issues for those who are already on the MCITP track, which can be as many as 7 exams and take a long time to complete.  Microsoft hasn't announced how that transition will happen, or how grandfathering might work.  There are other changes in the new certification tracks that I'm not at liberty to talk about.  Those details will be released by Micosoft later.

As an IT professional who made my career around Microsoft certifications, I have a vested interest in how this all works out.  I have been an MCSE since 1999 with Windows NT4 and followed every twist and turn that Microsoft Learning has thrown my way.  I upgraded all my MCSE and MCP certs to MCITP and MCTS over the years.  I became a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) Exchange Server just last year.  Now I'm looking at re-branding myself all over.  Again.

What are your thoughts?  Stay tuned for more details...
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Congratulations 2012 Microsoft MVP!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I am pleased to say that Microsoft has re-awarded me Microsoft MVP status again for 2012!  This is my fourth consecutive MVP award, this year for Microsoft Exchange.  I'm very proud of this award, as it is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others.

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