The Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge provides a FREE online study group with certification exam preparation materials for quickly learning about the latest version of Windows Server!  The Challenge involves a series of Knowledge Quests - starting with the Apprentice Quest below - and each Quest ends with a special completion certificate for you to promote your new knowledge!  To make it easy to participate, each Quest is developed in a modular format that you can complete based on your own schedule and availability.

Currently, our study group is targeting Exam 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 from Sept through Nov 2012. After that, we'll be continuing on to study for the other exams in the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification track. Learn more about this program by watching the video below.

Additional Knowledge Quests will be released in the coming weeks and once you've completed all of the Quests, you'll be prepared for the new Windows Server 2012 Installing and Configuring Exam - Exam 70-410.  Be sure to jump start your learning today with the Apprentice Quest below and we'll notify you via email when new Quests are available.

Before You Begin - Setup Microsoft Virtual Academy Account

This program leverages Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) which is a free online University setup by Microsoft. In order to get the most out of the program, you will need to create an account by going to http://aka.ms/gurumva using your Microsoft Account (Live ID).  In addition to having some great free content you can track your progress on various modules and accumulate “points” as you progress.  Use these points for bragging rights or even to evaluate your staff.  It is up to you if you share your progress with others but if you do share publicly.  In addition to getting great content, as you complete modules, you can add items to your resume.

"Early Experts" Apprentice Quest

In this first knowledge quest, you will learn and explore the key new technical capabilities of Windows Server 2012 across the product pillars of virtualization, management, networking and storage.  At the end of this knowledge quest, you will understand these new technical capabilities and be able to properly position them for relevant usage scenarios.

1. Windows Server 2012 Technical Overview Course

This course is designed to provide you with the key details of Windows Server 2012. The seven modules in this course, through video and whitepaper, provide details of the new capabilities, features, and solutions built into the product. With so many new features to cover, this course is designed to be the introduction to Windows Server 2012. After completing this course, you will be ready to dive deeper into Windows Server 2012 through additional Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) courses dedicated to each topic introduced in this “Technical Overview.”

Alternate option: You can also attend a free Windows Server 2012 First Look Clinic at a Microsoft Learning partner near you if you'd prefer an in-person training experience.

2. Download Windows Server 2012 Installation Bits

Building your own lab environment is the best way to REALLY learn new technology!  To prepare you with the ability to build your own lab, you can download the Windows Server 2012 installation bits here for FREE!  We'll be using these installation bits in the coming weeks in the additional Knowledge Quests of the "Early Experts" Challenge.  Be sure to download the bits in "VHD" format (not "ISO" format) as we'll be using the VHD bits to build your study lab and in future Knowledge Quests for hands-on activities.

3. Build Your Study Lab

Follow this step-by-step guide to build your own study lab as a dual-boot environment on your existing desktop or laptop PC.  We'll leverage this study lab environment in future Knowledge Quests for hands-on activities.  Hands-on experience with Windows Server 2012 will help you greatly in mastering the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass the certification exams.

4. Join our Online Peer Study Group Community

Participate in our Online Study Group Community on LinkedIn to post questions you may have, share your insights and collaborate with other members as we all prepare for certification!  Each of us has unique  insight and by participating in this community, we'll be able to expand our technical knowledge beyond our own experiences.

NOTE: If you're located in the US, I encourage you to join one of our participating User Groups that will be hosting monthly live certification peer group jam sessions.  By combining our online study materials with in-person jam sessions, these User Groups are leading the way in preparing, sharing and networking technical knowledge among their members.  If you have a user group and you would like to participate in this program please reach out to Dan Stolts or Keith Mayer and they will help you get started.

[ Please check back as we add new Users Groups to our list! ]

5. Share Your Success

Now that you've completed this Knowledge Quest, be sure to share your success with your social network using one of the buttons at the top of this post for Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. By sharing your success, you'll also help to encourage others to join our study group and increase the number of IT Pros working together to help grow our collective technical knowledge and share even more community insight that benefits us all!

TwitterTell your network "I just completed the Windows Server 2012 #EarlyExperts Apprentice Quest to prepare for Certification! Thanks @ITProGuru"  

6. Claim Your "Early Experts" Apprentice Certificate

Have you completed Steps 1 through 5? If so, follow these steps to validate your lab completion and claim your "Early Experts - Apprentice" certificate:

  1. On your study lab server, launch Server Manager and select "Tools -> System Information" from the menu bar.
  2. In the "System Information" tool, select "File -> Export" from the menu bar and export a System Information File named "EELABSRV01-Apprentice.txt"
  3. Email the SAVED COPY of the file from Step 2 to Early Experts to request an Apprentice completion certificate for the "Early Experts" Challenge, suitable for displaying in your office, at your desk or sharing on your social media network to proudly showcase your new Windows Server 2012 knowledge!

Once you've submitted your certificate request, feel free to keep going with the next Knowledge Quest below!

What's Next? Keep Going!

After you've completed the "Early Experts" Apprentice Quest, keep going with these additional Knowledge Quests to continue your preparation for the MCSA on Windows Server 2012 Exams:

  • Installer Quest: Targeting the Install, Configure and Active Directory exam objectives on Exams 70-410 and 70-417.
  • Explorer Quest: Targeting the Group Policy and Server Management exam objectives on Exam 70-410.
  • Networker Quest: Coming In November 2012
  • Virtualizer Quest: Coming in November 2012

Additional Resources

More Resources….

Free Cloud Server http://aka.ms/Iaas

clip_image001[4][2]Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012 http://aka.ms/getwin2012

clip_image002[4][2] Don’t Have a Server? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines http://aka.ms/IaaS

clip_image003[4][2] Want to Get Certified? Join Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group http://ITProGuru.com/EarlyExperts

clip_image004[4][2] Have a Question? Check the http://ITProGuru.com Blog