There was a gap between the release dates for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 and that is significant, when it comes to certification prep materials available right now. That gap is tilting the balance of available certification prep materials in Windows Server 2012's favor at the moment.
Self-study materials for aspiring MCSAs, like books and online courseware, are only now starting to come to market in large quantities.
The reason: It's been about six months since the GA date for Windows Server 2012, but only four months since the GA date for Windows 8. It usually takes about six months for the aftermarket to catch up when a Windows version becomes publicly available.
Windows Server 2012 has just crossed that threshold, but Windows 8 still has a couple of months to go before it gets to that point. Simply put, that's why it's finally appropriate to start self-study certification prep for the latest Windows server OS, but it's not quite time to get going on the latest Windows desktop OS.
Having luck finding Windows Server 2012 materials
When it comes to the MSCE on Windows Server 2012, here's what's currently available:
There are numerous book bundles for all three exams (70-410, 70-411, and 70-412) and at least one book for the update exam (for holders of the MCSA: Windows Server 2008 and a handful of other current MS certs). MS Press/O'Reilly has an exam ref bundle and Sybex has a single-volume study guide coming in July. I expect similar announcements from Syngress and McGraw-Hill any day now.
Some of the practice test vendors are ready for Windows Server 2012, while others aren't
there yet. When you look online for certification prep, I see lots of ads with online pass
guarantees -- sure signs of "brain dump" sites -- so be wary when looking for this stuff. So far, I
count Boson and SelfTestEngine among those that are ready, and Transcender and SelfTest
Software among those that are not quite there. Keep in mind that the number of options is sure to
increase quickly from here on out.
In the video training niche, CBTNuggets always offers good stuff (they have 70-410, 70-411, and 70-417 at present, but don't yet have 70-412). VPN Dynamics has five-day video courses for all four exams ready for order. As with additional books and practice exams, available video training offerings are bound to increase in coming months.
Many Windows 8 titles still not available
On the Windows 8 front, it's still mostly a matter of "coming soon" statuses rather than "order now" statuses for books, practice tests and video training:
MS Press/O'Reilly has a 70-687 Exam Ref out, but the 70-688 title isn't scheduled until July. Sybex has a single-volume 70-687 and 70-688 book planned for August, and ExamFOCUS released its hurry-up title on both exams in mid-February. The brain dump sites are all over both exams, but so far only SelfTestEngine has less risky practice test options.
The same thing goes for video training; only slim pickings are available, mostly from no-name or second-tier sources.
Playing the waiting game with advanced credentials
More time will lead to more choices for those who want to take the self-study route to MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and MCSA: Windows 8. It is okay to get going on the former, but it's still too early to start chasing after the latter.
This also means it's still too early to start chasing various follow-on MCSE credentials (Private Cloud, Desktop Infrastructure and other topics), which probably won't be available until late summer or early fall of this year.
About the author
Ed Tittel is a long-time computing industry guy who's been in and around the trenches for more than 30 years. He's also the author of HTML For Dummies, which first appeared in 1995, and for which a 14th edition is scheduled for 2013 release. In addition, Ed also blogs on IT careers and certifications forTechTarget,Tom's IT Pro, andPearsonITCertification.com, and onWindows Enterprise Desktop topics for TechTarget as well.
This was first published in March 2013