As mentioned in an earlier post, I made a commitment to get some exams done this year after not doing any for a while, so that I could stay current on our latest technologies. I also didn't want to fall into the situation where none of my certifications were on current products, so I thought that Windows 7 exams would be a good place to start.

At the end of the journey, I've passed the following exams in the past half year..

70-681 TS: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying
70-682 PRO: Upgrading to Windows 7 MCITP Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
70-683 TS: Windows 7, Pre-Installing for OEMs
70-686 PRO: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator

The first impression that I had when I did the first exams was that they either much harder than they used to be, or I really am much more removed from technology than I used to be. It took quite a while to get into study mode, and in effect I was relearning about technologies that I haven't really used much in a few years. Let me clarify that... these are all technologies that I've used recently, but mostly as a consumer of the services they deliver rather than delivering the service to others.

One thing that hasn't changed from my previous certification efforts is that I still strongly suggest taking exams in clusters. The exams listed above all have some degree of overlap with at least one, or usually two of the other exams. Even though my current role doesn't require me to deal with the OPK, exam 70-683 was a no brainer because of the focus on DISM, IMAGEX, WIM files, Win PE across the other exams. Sure there was some OEM specific content that I needed to know, but a quick scan of the exam description let me know what I needed to investigate.

Something that was quite different this time round was the scope of these exams, 70-686 being the best example. An exam that tests you on the individual components of MDOP, WDS, MDT, SCCM, IEAK and more isn't really something that is particularly easy to prepare for, and during the exam you will need to rely on your experience to pull some of the answers together. You could also say that much of the exam isn't really on Windows 7 itself, but rather the technologies that deploy it and maintain it. This means brushing up on your Active Directory skills for a start, which reminds me that I haven't done my Windows Server 2008 exams yet... TO BE CONTINUED