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Upcoming releases spur new certification exams

Microsoft is tweaking its certification exams to get IT professionals ready for the release of Vista 2007, Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007.

Microsoft is preparing IT professionals for this month's big releases by providing updated information on the company's revamped certification exams.

On Nov. 30, the company plans to release Vista 2007, Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007. The corresponding certification exams should be available between 30 and 180 days after the release date.

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Microsoft certification program to get a makeover

One certification exam, called Windows Vista Client Configuration, is in beta, and only IT people invited by Microsoft can take it, said Ed Tittel, an Austin, Texas-based author who writes on Microsoft certification.

According to Microsoft, there will be three exams per area -- one will test for the breadth and depth of the test taker's technical knowledge and two other exams will test the understanding of where that knowledge must be correctly applied in realistic scenarios.

How the latest exams differ from previous exams still remains to be seen, Tittel said. "Things are still in a holding pattern for now. We're all waiting for the new platforms to be released." he said.

Microsoft is also changing its Second Shot campaign program by allowing test takers who have passed their first exams to get a discount on the next exam they have to take, as many certifications require several exams. Now called Microsoft Exam Insurance, IT pros get two chances to pass and validate their knowledge of critical IT job functions. If they pass on the first try, they can get a 25% discount on the second exam.

Microsoft will still allow test takers who fail their first exam to retake it at no cost within 90 days. The exams run about $100 per exam.

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