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Previewing the Windows XP Professional exam

Configuring, managing and troubleshooting XP security are three topics that should be high on your MCSE study list.

As the Installing and Administering Windows 2000 Professional (70-210) exam was to NT Workstation (70-073), so is the Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional exam (70-270) to the Win2k Pro test.

This exam is more difficult than its predecessors. There are more complex scenarios and more questions that require intense attention, careful analysis and synthesis of information from multiple objectives and topic areas. The XP Pro exam is more technical, and is both broader and deeper in its coverage of topics than the certification test for Win2k Pro.

Consequently, IT pros will need to invest in a significant amount of study and hands-on interaction with the XP Pro platform. Even those of you already familiar with the XP operating system should plan to spend 20-40 hours preparing; those unfamiliar with XP will probably need to spend 100 hours or more getting ready for this test.

So what's new and different in the exam itself? Because of confidentially requirements, I can't reveal specifics. But here are some general points of information on which to focus your study efforts.

Installing Windows XP Professional

1. Get down and dirty with Remote Installation Services (RIS) and System Preparation Tool details.
2. Prepare for real-world migration issues, including hardware checks and migrating existing user environments from various versions of Windows.

Implementing and Conducting Administration of Resources

3. Spend some time fooling with file compression settings and observe related issues and behaviors.
4. Understand how to manage Web server resources.
5. Get hands-on time with Internet printers, or read the docs like crazy.
6. Understand offline files, and how to work with and synchronize them.

Implementing, Managing, Monitoring, and Troubleshooting Hardware Devices and Drivers

7. Read up on multiple display support and play with some related hardware.
8. Study the Advanced Power Configuration Interface (ACPI) and understand basic operation and configuration settings.
9. Bone up on driver signing, and work with drivers. (Check out the driver signing options on the Hardware tab in the System applet, and spend some time with the File Signature Verification tool, sigverif.exe, as well.)
10. If you're not already familiar with the Recovery Console, get familiar with it.

Monitoring and Optimizing System Performance and Reliability

11. Understand how to work with Scheduled Tasks.
12. Explore Safe Mode operation of Windows XP Pro in as much detail as you can stand.

Configuring and Troubleshooting the Desktop Environment

13. Play with XP support for multiple languages and locations and get familiar with XP's various accessibility services.

Implementing, Managing and Troubleshooting Network Protocols and Services

14. Practice configuring VPN connections and Internet Connection Sharing.
15. Investigate how Windows XP Professional works with IIS.
16. Get familiar with remote desktop and remote assistance.
17. Read up on and play with XP's Internet connection firewall.

Configuring, Managing and Troubleshooting Security

18. Read up on and play with XP's Encrypting File System in both standalone (or workgroup) and domain usage scenarios.
19. Get familiar with local security policy settings and controls.
20. Learn how to configure, manage and troubleshoot XP and Internet Explorer security configurations.

In short, the more time you can spend working with the software and its various consoles, management tools and utilities, the better-prepared to pass you'll be.

Ed Tittel is a principal at a small content development company based in Austin, Texas, and the creator of the Exam Cram series, and has worked on over 30 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell and Sun related topics.

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