My thoughts on MS 70-270

For those who are wondering, 70-270 is the test number for the “Installing, Configuring, and Administering Windows XP Professional” exam.  It’s a Microsoft certification – passing it earns you the title “MCP” or “Microsoft Certified Professional.”  It’s also an early step in the MSCE and MCSA (2000 and 2003 versions).  It covers the broad spectrum of features in Windows XP Pro.

This is not my first certification; I have taken cert exams from CompTIA (A+, Net+) as well as CIW (CIW Foundations and JavaScript Fundamentals).  However, I found this one to be quite a different animal.

It was definitely more in-depth than anything either of the other vendors asks.  Each topic was covered in significant detail.  And though it does not go into infinitessimal detail, as a professional desktop support technician, I still had to learn quite a bit.  Some topics I was solid on, like NTFS permissions, printers, and other things I do every day at work.  Other sections (the ones I don’t use, like unattended installation, Windows Backup, ICS – yes, they still ask about ICS) I missed quite a few questions on.

CIW tends to ask fact-based questions, such as “How many cookies can a domain store on a user’s computer?”  CompTIA, on the other hand, mixes it up between scenario and trivia questions.  MS offered me only scenario-based questions.  The goal, it seemed, was to know whether I could use the information I had to resolve a given situation.  The questions were precise and well-worded, for the most part.  They were definitely more difficult than CompTIA’s questions.

All in all, if you want to sharpen your skills and get a minimalist certificate to hang on your cube wall, this is still a very valid exam.  If your office is using Vista, learn that.  But you’re in the minority, friend, and the rest of us are still on XP, at least for a year or two.

Bottom line is this – if you need it, get it.  It wasn’t too bad; I took about two weeks to prep and passed fairly easily.  But don’t overlook any areas; get a good prep book (I recommend the MS Press one).  For all MS’s shortcomings, they do make quality exams.

It’s much easier if you work with XP daily.  But If you don’t, you probably don’t have a good reason to get this aging certification.

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