83-640 (Windows 2008 performance-based exam) and 70-680 (Windows 7) are both live

July 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Microsoft | Leave a comment

I opened the sports page the other day.  Another NFL team is interested in Brett Favre? Well, okay, I guess I understand that. Brett is an experienced quarterback; why wouldn’t a team be interested in an experienced veteran?

Speaking of experienced veterans,  you need to have experience with Windows Server 2008 to pass the new performance-based Microsoft certification exam, 83-640. Official word: This test replaces the 70-640 exam, but fulfills the exact same requirement. The new test has two parts, namely (as you may have guessed) a performance-based section in which you have to perform tasks in a virtual environment, and a traditional multiple choice section.

Just like a quarterback who has to go to training camp and run through endless passing drills, you need to prepare for this test. You have an excellent free resource in the Microsoft prep guide for 83-640.  The prep guide has all the tasks that you need to know to pass this test with flying colors. If you perform each topic on the skills measured tab, you really will be prepared to pass the test. And, of course, Transcender sells the only practice test that emulates Microsoft’s performance-based testing component.

If you don’t work with this OS on a daily basis, then the best way to prepare for this test is to set up a test lab with at least two computers that have Windows Server 2008 server on them, plus a client computer.  You can get a free 60-day evaluation copy  of  Windows Server 2008 server from Microsoft.  You will have to set up different server roles to meet the exam objectives, such as DNS controllers and certificate servers. Your lab computers should have enough memory to manage the OS, so you have to have computers that meet the minimum requirements.  Minimum requirements usually equal minimum results, but you can actually meet all of the test objectives with minimal requirements. Also, you should have at least a wired hub. You can use wireless, but you may not get wireless drivers for Windows Server 2008.

There are a lot of diverse topics on this test. You have to be well versed in DNS,  Group Policy Objects,  Active Directory infrastructure, and Certificate Services. Some people learn by watching , some people learn by doing.  You will have to know how to set account policies in a GPO. You will have to know to create and delegate DNS zones. You will have to create and configure Active Directory sites.  One task I strongly recommend that you know backwards and forwards is setting up an Active Directory forest.

You should set aside at least 4 to 6 weeks to run through the topics on the prep guide. Hands-on knowledge is the best type of experience. I can read manuals about being a professional football player, but unless I have a lot of experience I am not going to get a job playing quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings like Brett Favre will. Chances are, neither you will. That is Microsoft’s new philosophy. They want experienced people passing this test.

The 83-640 test separates the contenders from the pretenders.  You will not be able to guess your way through the performance-based testing section. Last time I opened the Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate was pretty high.  If you have a job, congratulations! If you don’t, the best way to get a job is to have experience.  Passing the 83-640 test means that you have experience.

In other news, the Windows 7 exam (70-680) has also been released.  Transcender is heavily in development with this exam, and will be releasing our own practice test within the quarter. There is still no word on when (or if) Microsoft plans to release a performance-based test for this exam, but we’ll post it here as soon as we know.

–George Monsalvatge

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