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This post was originally written for the Canadian IT Pro Connection blog, and can be seen there at http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/archive/2012/09/12/what-s-this-new-cert-mcsa-windows-7.aspx.
In April of this year Microsoft Learning announced its new generation of certifications. Many of us who had previously earned certain MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) credentials were automatically ported into a new certification category, the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate). Depending on the MCITP you had earned, you would get a different MCSA.
There are two senior certifications for the Windows 7 desktop:
- MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator
- MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
If you have earned either of these certifications then you already have received (or will shortly) an e-mail from Microsoft Learning informing you that you will soon be awarded the new MCSA: Windows 7. Congratulations!
Now, the benefit to this is that when it comes time to earning your MCSA: Windows 8 you will only have to take a single upgrade exam (70-689).
If you would like to learn more about the MCSA: Windows 7 and MCSA: Windows 8 certifications, visit the Microsoft Learning page here.
I have long been a huge advocate of certifications; I have worked on many of the exams and courses, and have worked hard to earn the ones that I hold – not because I need them in order to teach the associated classes (although that was once a consideration), but because I strongly believe that certifications are proof that you have the respect for your profession to not only learn the right way to do things, but to sit down and prove it.
In 2012 Microsoft Canada held a series of virtual study groups for Hyper-V. Across the country dozens of people studied together in groups, and dozens of them took (and passed) exam 70-659, earning them the MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Server Virtualization credential. With the launch of the new products and certifications I hope that we will bring these study groups back… as a benefit to the user groups, and as a way to get more people certified. Watch this space for more information, and if you are interested in a particular cert let us know and we’ll see what we can do to help you out!
Although it really is more complicated than this, Microsoft has broken the speed of a computer down to five components: CPU, RAM, graphics and gaming graphics, and hard drive speed. In Vista and then Windows 7 each of these was measured on a scale from 1.0-7.9. In Windows 8 this has been changed to a scale from 1.0 to 9.9.
If you upgrade your computer from Windows 7 to Windows 8 then you will notice that your WEI has dropped; that’s because Microsoft realizes that newer hardware is available, and the hardware that was top of the line three years ago is now a bit longer in the tooth.
Each of the measurements has its own subscore, but the truth is that the speed of your computer is determined by the slowest of these – i.e.: the bottleneck. So the Base Score of your computer – the one in the big blue square – is not a calculation or an average of the others, it is the lowest subscore from the five.
As you can see from the screenshot I took from my own laptop (an HP EliteBook 2740p) my Base Score is a 4.3. As a business user I don’t see a particular need to invest in a machine with high-end graphics (especially pricy in laptops). I don’t play games, and to watch the occasional movie all I need is a simple video card. I am more concerned with the CPU, RAM, and hard drive performance in my system, and with these subscores at 6.8 and 7.7 I am very pleased with the laptop’s performance.
If you would like to check your Windows Experience Index, there are a couple of ways to do it:
- Using the traditional method: In Windows Explorer right-click on Computer, click on Properties, and click on Windows Experience Index.
- In the Windows 8 Start Screen type ‘experience’ (or enough of the word for it to be recognized. Make sure you are in the Settings context, and click Use tools to improve performance.
From the Performance Information and Tools screen, click either Run the assessment or, if you have already run it previously, click Re-run the assessment. Remember, it will not work if you are running on battery power… you will have to plug in your laptops to run it! Also if you are running off a boot-from-VHD you can’t run it because the VHD performance interferes with the ability to measure the actual hard disk speed.
Windows 8 is faster than any operating system I have ever seen, even on legacy hardware. However on newer hardware it is going to be incredible; the only issue with that right now is that you are going to have to wait until October 26th to buy it!
I couldn’t believe it. I had finally installed Windows 8, and I wasn’t able to blog about it.
The error code in question was 0x800F0906.
Of course, I am sure eventually there will be a new, Metro-based version of Live Writer around General Availability, but until then I was not willing to let my blog fester, and I was not planning to go back to Windows 7. Don’t get me wrong, Windows 7 was (and may still be) the best operating system Microsoft has ever released. However Windows 8 looks pretty hot too, and I have loved it for most of the pre-release stages, and in order for me to do what I do I need to be running the latest and greatest.
However in order to do what I do, I also need to be able to blog… let alone print, and my printer’s software also seems to rely on .NET Framework 3.5.
I did some research, and it turns out that for whatever reason this bug has been around for a while and did not get fixed in the RTM code. I would have to install the feature manually before proceeding.
- Insert the Windows 8 source media.
- Find out what drive letter the source media is at. We’ll call it X:.
- Open a command prompt with elevated privileges. To do that, from the start screen (formerly known as Metro) type cmd, and then right-click on the Command Prompt App, and then click Run as Administrator along the bottom of your screen. (If it doesn’t appear make sure that your search context is Apps.
- Type the following command into the command prompt:
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:X:\sources\sxs /LimitAccess
(Remember to replace X with your drive letter.
The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool will kick off, and you should see the progress bar start. It won’t take too long and you should see the following output, with the line ‘The operation completed successfully.’
Once this is done your .NET Framework 3.5 is installed, and you should be able to install any programs that have it as a pre-requisite.
Unlike most people I was (and am) a big fan of User Account Control (UAC) in Windows 7 (and even Vista). I have often referred to it as the ‘Are you really sure you want to do something stupid?’ button; it let you know that you were about to do something that would affect your PC, and to proceed with caution.
In Windows 7 Microsoft improved the UAC experience by allowing us to control it beyond the simple O/I settings. Combine that with the fact that ISVs stopped programming their applications around security holes in Windows, and the UAC experience in Windows 7 was a much less annoying one than it had been in its first iteration.
Windows 8 introduces a new concept that is similar in nature, called SmartScreen. It monitors your system for software installations. If you try to install an unrecognized application it pops up a warning message. It is another way Windows helps to keep your computer secure.
Don’t misunderstand… this is not Big Brother. If you really want to install the application then it will still let you. SmartScreen is just another way Windows has to let you know that you should be careful. Of course there are people who would say ‘Let me do my thing, and stop pestering me!’ For those people you can simply turn off SmartScreen.
For the rest of us, there are two settings for ‘On’. The first, which those of us who administer systems for others will appreciate, is the ‘Get Admin approval’ setting. That way your users will not be able to install applications from shady developers.
The second ‘On’ setting is ‘Warn but proceed’. In other words it will let the user know that there may be rough roads ahead, but doesn’t prevent you from taking them. Those of us who administer systems for others will likely prefer this setting for our own computers.
SmartScreen is even configured from the same screen as User Account Control… or at least you access the settings from the same Action Center screen. Notice that next to both ‘Change User Account Control settings’ and ‘Change Windows SmartScreen settings’ both have the little ‘shield’ icon next to them. That indicates that they are both protected by UAC, and that if you are not an administrator you will not be able to make changes to them. This is one more reason why you should not disable UAC… especially if you administer systems for others – even your family. Protecting your systems is easy, but it is a slippery slope to unsafe, and that slope is easy to avoid… but turning off UAC is akin to walking up to a cliff and tearing down the fence that prevents people from falling over.
We have come a long day from the days when running Windows required third-party add-ons to keep us safe. Today we only need to use a little common sense… or better yet, leave things the way they are, because most of these security features in Windows 8 are enabled out of the box, and you would have to actively reconfigure it to subject yourself to the malwares and Trojans of the IT world.