Free Trial Editions of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012You can download a free trial for Windows 8 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions from here.
You can download a free trial for Windows Server 2012 and access some virtual labs from here.
Both of the trial editions have limitations but are very useful if you install them in a virtual environment. If you're looking for a way to do so, check out this post which shows how to download and install VirtualBox and create VMs. You can also use VMWare which I'm currently using.
There's a lot of hype about Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft certainly hopes they are wildly successful. Some of this is still a little confusing as many people are trying to figure out what to call the interface previously known as Metro. At the same time, many software developers are aggressively developing tools to bypass the start screen for the interface previously known as Metro
Coming ExamsThe first exam for Windows 8 is 70-687 Configuring Windows 8 (comparable to the 70-680 exam for Windows 7) and it will be available. There aren't currently any materials for this book, but they'll be coming out in the next few months or so.
One of the challenges publishers seem to be having is that the messages aren't clear from Microsoft. As an example, the 70-687 web page says that this exam gives you credit toward the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 8. What isn't clear is if this is one of multiple exams that gives you credit for the MCSA, or if you'll get the cert as soon as you pass the 70-687 exam. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) page lists several of the new MCSA certifications but it does not include Windows 8.
There are also several exams coming out for Windows Server 2012. To earn the MCSA on Windows Server 2012, you need to pass the following three exams.
- 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
- 70-411 Administering Windows Server 2012
- 70-412 Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services