About the same time my MS Partner Program “Learning Curve Newsletter” hit my inbox this morning, I also got some e-mail from MS PR with reference to their latest salvo in the training and certification arena. Get ready: this week–that is, the week of March 9-lucky 13, 2009–is “Microsoft Skills Week,” wherein Microsoft will orchestrate nearly 200 partner-led events in the US and Canada. This latest effort is supposed to help IT pros and software developers improve upon and validate their skills, and allow them to mingle with industry leaders, and make progress toward MS certification. This week’s activies are to kick off a whole series of events that will ultimately reach their conclusion in May at Microsoft’s annual Tech•Ed shindig (in LA this year, breaking with long standing residence in Orlando). In fact, there’s a whole Web site for this initiative, from which I shamelessly snip the front-page logo here:
Here’s what’s going on during Skills Week this week:
- Access to Career Assist: I won’t go into this any further here, since I’ve already blogged about it on February 6 when details of this program were first leaked.
- On-site study sessions called “Exam Crams” (hey! That’s a very familiar phrase to me…) where exam candidates can bone up for immanent exams.
- Live Meetings (by which I presume MS means online, Web-based audio/video encounters) with MS technology specialists and trainers who will demonstrate training assist technologies (yawn) and answer questions to help them prepare (hooray).
- Exam Discounts: Take exams on-site at events, and save 40% off the usual price (use discount code NAM40UP to qualify).
Out of not-so-idle curiosity I clicked on the “Find an event near you!” button on the Skills Week web page (whose URL is www.certificationweek.com, and hints of more stuff to come between now and Tech•Ed) and compiled these factoids:
- There will be 10 Web-based events (“Live Meetings?”) this week from numerous national training companies, of which New Horizons is the most active participant on subjects ranging from general certifcation hoo-rah to coverage of exams 70-642, .NET 3.5 MCPD stuff, 70-643, 70-620, and 70-647.
- 1 Event in the Austin Metro area (within 50 miles of my ZIP), which also corresponds to all events in Texas this week (c’mon MS: what about Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, the three largest cities in TX?).
- No events featuring a Microsoft Across America Truck anywhere in the US or Canada (why mention it until something is ready?)
- A total of 80 events that will take place this week are currently visible on the Events Page as I write this blog, including study sessions, overview/introduction sessions, Live Meetings, and more. Looks to me like about half are marketing oriented, the other half include technical substance.
For those who need to take exams soon, looking into onsite activities is worthwhile because of the $60 savings it means on MS exams. It’s possible that some of this content might be worthwhile as well (I’ll check out the New Horizons Vista stuff on Thursday at 11:30 AM Central because I can gather info for this blog and my Vista blog at the same time). A note of warning/info: if you want to attend a Web session, better sign up soon because it’s by registration and I’m guessing total available slots will be capped.
But so far, there’s a lot of infrastructure here for relatively small set of content offerings. Makes me think more must be coming soon or MS wouldn’t have proffered so much hoopla and such a serious media blitz.