On many occasions I have had people ask me “Where can I learn about Microsoft’s product X”, or “Is there anywhere I can go to get free training”. Well, here is a list of just a few of the resources Microsoft provides to us all so we can get educated and try out many software titles before making an investment.
- TechNet Support – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ms772425
Search for Knowledge Base articles created from real support issues. This is a great first step in trying to find a solution to a problem you’re having
- TechNet Library – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library
Software almost never comes with any documentation these days. If you’re looking for the full documentation for any of Microsoft’s products, then take a look in the TechNet Library.
- TechEd Videos (now available to the public) –http://www.microsoft.com/techedonline
If you’re not familiar with it, TechEd is one of the biggest tech conferences in the Microsoft world. If you didn’t get a chance to attend in person, or you missed some of the tracks, you can view videos of the sessions online. This was formerly open to members only, but is now available to the public.
- TechNet Social Forums –http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums
This is a free service where users can post their issues and ask questions about various Microsoft products and services. This is a great place to find resources provided by Microsoft MVPs.
- TechNet Blogs by Microsoft Evangelists & other personnel –http://blogs.technet.com and http://blogs.msdn.com
Many of Microsoft’s staff, including the Evangelists you see at any of the live Microsoft events, keep blogs on MSDN and TechNet. Check them out and learn about new products, events, and ways to resolve those pesky issues you’ve been running into.
- Microsoft Virtual Academy – http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com
Learn all about virtualization and cloud computing in the Microsoft world. View tracks about Hyper-V, Azure, Office 365, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Software as a Service (Saas), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and much more. This is a site I highly recommend checking out for anyone planning for a future in IT. Virtualization and cloud computing are here today, and they are here to stay!
- Microsoft Script Repository –http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/scriptcenter
If you play with PowerShell or VB Scripts, then you’ll love Microsoft’s Script Repository. There are many example scripts which you can modify and use to meet your own needs. I’m always amazed at some of the “out of the box” thinking in some of these scripts.
- Microsoft Events in your area – http://events.microsoft.com
Microsoft is constantly doing Deep Dive and Fire Starter events in all corners of the US. Take a look at the Events site to see what is coming up in your area… oh yeah; there are tons of webcasts and podcasts on this site too!
- Microsoft Learning Plans – http://www.microsoftlearningplans.com
Interested in certification, or perhaps just looking to learn about a specific technology or product? Microsoft Learning Plans (part of the MS Partner Network) can help be your virtual guidance counselor. This site can help you figure out what topics you need to master before attempting the exams.
- Trial software from TechNet Evaluation Center & Test environment/lab use software from TechNet Plus
Now that you’ve learned more than you thought you ever could, it is time to play with the software. Through Microsoft’s TechNet Evaluation Center (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter), you can download trial software such as a 90-day Trial of Windows 7 Enterprise. If you have a TechNet Plus subscription, you can download and install full copies of even more of Microsoft’s titles (even old copies of DOS).
Now this is only a few of the things that Microsoft provides to try to educate us on the cheap. Please feel free to post a reply with any other good resources you have found.