Over the past few months I’ve fielded quite a few questions about training options for our products. Based on this trend I figured a training blog post was in order. After a few days of research and writing I’m finally ready to post this 1000-word essay for your viewing pleasure. Since I’m still fairly new to the company (June 22 was my 1 year anniversary) I’m sure I missed a site or twenty. I’ll update this post over the coming year as I discover new training resources… so expect it to bubble to the top of your RSS feed from time to time. Finally – to simplify things I separated training options by cost and availability.
Free Training Options Available to Everyone
- Product Sites on Microsoft.com: Many of the product-specific sites on Microsoft.com include free training materials. Unfortunately not all sites are organized in a similar fashion… leading you to do some hunting and clicking. I’ve included two examples below to give you a head start.
- TechNet Virtual Labs: I’m a kinesthetic learner… so I tend to gravitate toward labs and demos. If this sounds like you… TechNet offers a ton of virtual labs where you can get your hands dirty using our software in a hosted virtual machine environment. Check out the main TechNet Virtual Labs landing page for a complete list organized by product family.
- Microsoft Event Resources: TechEd and the Microsoft Management Summit are our yearly US IT Pro events. While you need to be a paying attendee to access the event web site (and an archive of all sessions) you can often view keynotes and select breakout sessions for free. I’ve included links to each event home page below. UPDATE: I just learned that TechEd 2010 North America content is freely available using the link below. This is a huge change from previous years and hopefully something other event teams will adopt as a standard practice.
- Microsoft Events and Webcasts: Make sure to bookmark or subscribe to the RSS feed for our Events and Webcasts page. This page is a clearinghouse for almost all customer-facing Microsoft events (online and in-person). While not an official training site… this is still a great resource to increase your Microsoft knowledge.
- Microsoft Learning Snacks: Officially called “Microsoft Silverlight Learning Snacks”, these are short interactive presentations on current Microsoft products and technologies. They are also a great way for the Silverlight team to show off their technology. 😉 Anyway – if you only have 10 or 20 minutes to spare and want a quick dose of 200-300 level knowledge… head over to the Learning Snacks site.
- Productivity Hub: This is a unique collection of training resources (docs, videos, and podcasts) for Windows 7, IE8, Office, and SharePoint. What makes the Hub unique is that it’s delivered as a pre-built SharePoint site collection with a Web 2.0 twist. The Hub uses SharePoint social networking capabilities to encourage students to further their learning experience by posting to blogs, discussion boards and wikis. The Productivity Hub content is refreshed on a quarterly basis and available on the Microsoft Download Center. Very cool stuff!
Free Training Options Available to Volume License Customers
- Software Assurance Training Benefits: Software Assurance (SA) includes benefits such as new product version rights, 24x7 telephone support, and many more beyond the scope of this post. However, the two SA benefits listed below are focused on training end-users and IT staff.
- SA Training Vouchers: Check with your organization’s SA benefits administrator to see if you have unused SA training vouchers. These vouchers can be used with a Microsoft Certified Learning Partner for traditional classroom training. The MS Learning team created a Class Locator portal to help you locate a certified partner in your area and find the right training courses. Note -- when searching for a training center be sure to click the “Software Assurance vouchers only” check-box.
- SA eLearning: As the name implies, this eLearning benefit allows you to consume select eLearning courses from the full Microsoft eLearning catalog. You need to contact your organization’s SA benefits administrator to gain access to these courses. However, you can search the eLearning catalog without a username or password. Make sure to filter your search using the offer type “SA Applications, SA Servers, and SA Systems”.
Pre-Paid or For-Fee Training Options Available to Microsoft Premier Customers
- Background – Microsoft Premier Support: Microsoft Premier Support offers various paid support offerings based on customer need. Premier offerings typically include priority 24x7 business-critical phone support, rapid access to onsite support engineers, plus access to an extensive catalog of proactive services. Another benefit of subscribing to Premier Support is access to a Technical Account Manager (TAM) who manages the overall support experience (both reactive and proactive). To learn more check out the Premier Support page on Microsoft.com.
- Microsoft Premier Open Enrollment Workshops and Online Workshop Webcasts: Check with your TAM for a current list of live and online workshops. If you’re a Premier customer you probably already receive these via e-mail. The number of contract hours consumed varies by workshop and delivery method (live vs. online).
- Other Premier Services: While Premier Support is often associated with reactive support (i.e. 1-800-ITS-BROKE) – it’s actually proactive services that provide the best long-term value to your company. To that end Premier Support can host Chalk Talks, Architectural Design Sessions, Performance Reviews, and literally dozens of other proactive services. Built into each engagement is a strong focus on knowledge transfer – which in my opinion is the best kind of training.
For-Fee Training Available to Everyone
- Microsoft Press Books: Let’s face it… nothing beats a 2000 page Resource Kit for demonstrating your geek cred. The Microsoft Press Books site includes a catalog of print and e-books for online delivery or shipment.
- Microsoft Online Training: Workshops, Clinics, Individual Courses, and Training Collections… all of these offerings can be accessed via the Training Catalog landing page.
- Microsoft Event DVD Store: Complete archives of recent TechEd and MMS conference keynotes and breakout sessions are available to anyone with a credit card. However, event attendees will pay much less by logging on with a valid attendee username/password. Head on over to the Event DVD Store to browse the event catalog.
Whew! That’s a lot of training. Ping me via e-mail if you have questions or need help with any of the resources listed above. My alias is jcent. Have a great weekend! --Jeff