Microsoft Offers Free E-Learning Promotion

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Microsoft Learning is currently offering free e-learning programs prior to the upcoming release of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. The company has several online courses that deal with various features and functions, as well as skills assessments, available for both products on the Microsoft Learning Web site.


“It’s really about readiness,” said Lori Dennis, group product manager of e-learning at Microsoft Learning. “It’s focused on getting customers ready to do early deployments as soon as the products release. We want customers to get comfortable in their understanding of how the products are going to work before it launches.”


The courses also serve as a resource for those planning to pursue certifications for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, which will be released on Nov. 7. These two certifications will be the first of Microsoft’s next-generation certification program, which will be restructured to cover separate technologies horizontally, and deal with different job roles and levels of expertise vertically.


“It does map into certification in terms of providing a solid foundation of the content that’s required,” Dennis said. “The next stage is going into a new certification path like the Technical Specialist or the Professional Developer credentials. We definitely want to make sure that all the content we’re developing is mapping to certification. This provides a great foundation as you move into the next layer in preparation for your technical exams.”


The e-learning programs are presently based on the second beta versions of these products, Dennis said. “After the product launches, we will take that content and update it. We will make sure we’re touching on all the current subjects. Then we’ll re-release it for a fee. This is a great time for customers to take advantage of an enormous amount of content. This is a great window for them to go on the site, add that content to their profile and then continue to consume it. If customers go on the site on Nov. 6 and add that to their profile, they’ll still have 90 days to use the content. We don’t shut the content off on Nov. 8; it’s just a matter of activating it for the first time.”


For those professionals interested in learning about other forthcoming Microsoft product launches, such as its Vista operating system, it’s just a matter of waiting. “We are constantly looking at developing new products, creating new features and functionality of existing products, and also looking the technical products and applications Microsoft is releasing and aligning our title plan against those products to support them and our customers as they get ready to deploy those,” Dennis said. “Microsoft Learning is working closely with all the product groups within Microsoft to replicate this model as we move forward with other significant product launches over the next 18 months. We want to make sure that they have free content to get comfortable with all the new features on these products. This is a trend that you’ll definitely see continue with all product releases at Microsoft.”


The e-learning offer for Visual Studio 2005 will end on Nov. 8, while the promotion for SQL Server will conclude on Nov. 1, 2006.


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