Quality of Recent Microsoft Press Training Kits RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • From as far back as I can remember, Microsoft Press training kits were the gold standard in Microsoft exam preparation. They were usually the recommended training resource for any Microsoft exam, and they rarely disappointed.

    Apparently, all that changed with the MCITP Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 exams. For example, the MS Press 70-680 (Windows 7) training kit was the worst MS Press book I ever bought, replete with factual and typographical errors and omissions. Furthermore, apart from being poorly written, it simply failed to adequately prepare the student for the 70-680 exam because it focused on the wrong things. As a general reference it was adequate, but as an exam preparation guide it fell short.

    I thought this might have been an isolated case, but almost daily I read complaints online from students about the inability of recent Microsoft Press training kits to prepare them for the new Microsoft exams. I’ve been monitoring reviews of the MCITP (SA & EA) and MCTS texts on Amazon, and the average for the MS Press texts is roughly 3 out of 5, whereas before I remember an average of about 4.0 or  4.5.

    So my question is: Has the quality of Microsoft Press training kits deteriorated recently, or are the new Microsoft certification exams evolving so rapidly, with increasing breadth and complexity, that no training kit author can ever hope to keep up?

    What do you think? Please share your thoughts.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 4:59 PM

All replies

  • I have to agree with what you've stated and I personally believe the answer is

    are the new Microsoft certification exams evolving so rapidly, with increasing breadth and complexity, that no training kit author can ever hope to keep up?

    From my experience this appears to be the fact for SQL 2008 R2 as the 2008 exams were updated to include R2 content however study material wasn't.

    Microsoft has always been criticised for not releasing new or updated exams to keep up with technology and has always been slow at releasing preparation material.  They’ve lifted their game with respect to exam releases however they are still slow at releasing new or updated preparation material (which has been exasperated due to exam content being released and updated more frequently).

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    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Friday, July 20, 2012 11:10 PM
  • Thanks, Mr. Wharty. I always value your input.

    Yes. You are right. The same thing happened with the MCITP 70-64X series of exams (70-640, 642, 643, etc.). Microsoft started testing on the updated Server 2008 R2 material not long after the release of R2, while all the study texts then in print were written for Server 2008. Students started getting surprises in the exam room, and they were not happy.

    Unfortunately, since it may take over a year to have a revised edition of a text book printed, and Microsoft’s new exams are changing so rapidly, the text book publishers don’t stand a chance.

    I have a partial solution for myself. I normally buy my MS Press texts from Amazon (highly discounted). Then I go to O’Reilly’s website, register the text, and purchase a digital version of the same text in mobi format for my Kindle (highly discounted again).

    Because it is far quicker and cheaper to update a digital version of a book than the physical printed text, updates can be made more quickly to the digital version, and this is what some publishers do.

    O’Reilly offers free lifetime updates of their digital books, and they notify me when an update is available. I then replace the old version on my Kindle with the updated version, and I’m good to go. Currently, the updates are generally only errata, and minor changes, but more substantial revisions might be included as well. For example, that’s how I got the reprint edition of the MS Press 70-680 text for free.

    Of course it still takes time to revise a text, even if it’s only published electronically, but at least we won’t have to wait for printing as well, which takes additional time. Digital-only updates are one way that publishers can try to keep up with Microsoft, but they will still always be behind the curve.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012 3:36 AM
  • I too was blindsided by the addition of R2 material to their server exams. I took 70-640 and 70-642 within 3 months of each other, passed 640 on the first try, failed the 642 because it introduced new material that i had no text for.

    I'm going to agree with both of you, purchasing just the MS book's isn't enough anymore.

    I've been supplementing my MS books with other authors at this point. I still use my first edition MS books but i have to supplement the material with other books.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012 2:54 PM
  • Hi Terahertz, I certainly agree with you. It is now essential to supplement the MS Press books with other material.

    And if you don't mind a bit of searching in a less structured manner, then TechNet can be an excellent resource, as can be the various Windows Resource Kits.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012 3:24 PM
  • Looks like Microsoft wants people to take courses together with books.
    Friday, August 3, 2012 11:09 AM
  • Sounds familiar.  I took a class teaching Network Infrastructure for the R2 and Microsoft decided to add SP1 to the mix, which wasn't included in the R2 book.  It also wasn't included in the class yet because I was the first to report getting questions on SP1.  The instructors are working to incorporate it now but I will have to retake the exam.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014 4:46 PM