Take advantage of Microsoft’s online tutorials

If you were listening to the radio 10 years ago, one of the songs you probably heard was "Step by Step" by The New Kids on the Block. After becoming incredibly annoyed, you most certainly switched stations. This feature article also refers to "Step by Step," but thankfully it has nothing to do with anybody named Joe, Jordan, Danny, or Donnie. (Yes, I had to look it up, and yes, I wish I could have those 30 seconds of my life back!).

What I’m discussing in this article is so important that I’m announcing the "Step-by-Step Challenge." At the end of the article, I'll tell how you can participate in the Challenge and have a chance to get some cool prizes.

So what exactly am I talking about? Microsoft's Web site has some resources that can be incredibly helpful to you as you begin to learn Windows 2000. In fact, by taking advantage of what Microsoft has posted, you can start to become an expert in Win2K in no time. I’m talking about actual hands-on knowledge here, too, not just book knowledge. What are these resources? Microsoft's Step-by-Step Guides to Windows 2000.

Microsoft employees have written about 40 (38 to be exact) guides that will walk you through various aspects of the Win2K OS. Rather than being merely labs with a simple list of instructions, the Step-by-Step Guides have lots of great information to read while you’re performing the tasks. After you finish a step-by-step guide (they can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours), you usually feel as though you have a relatively high level of mastery over a particular aspect of Win2K.

Where do you start? First you need to go to the Step-by-Step Guides on Microsoft's site. They’re at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/techinfo/planning/walkthroughs/default.asp.

Resist the urge to just start off with any of them. First, do the ones under the heading of "Common Infrastructure for Windows 2000 Server Deployment." They’ll have you "Installing Windows 2000 Server as a Domain Controller" (Part 1) and "Installing Windows 2000 Professional and Connecting It to a Domain" (Part 2). These guides will be the foundation on which all of the other guides are based because these guides establish the naming conventions and other details that the other guides use. The links to these two guides are:

If you have a similar infrastructure set up for testing purposes, you can probably use it, but you might need to modify it. Also, if you don't have the ability to set up what's asked for in the "Common Infrastructure" guides, you’ll still be able to do the majority of the Step-by-Step Guides. Nevertheless, I can't emphasize enough the importance of having a practice lab either at home or at the office for testing purposes. Clarke Lebarge’s article "Required Self-Study Resources for Windows 2000 and .NET Exams" contains advice about how to set up a lab.

After you've gotten the infrastructure set up, you’re ready to rock! Set a goal of getting through a certain number of Step-by-Step Guides each week. If you’re really ambitious, you might want to try to get through all of them in a month. Regardless of what timeframe you set for yourself, I think you'll be amazed by how much you learn as you work through these. The best part is that it won’t even seem like work because you’ll be learning some cool things about new technologies in Win2K such as the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Remote Installation Services (RIS), and public key infrastructure (PKI).

If I haven't yet convinced you that you should work through the Step-by-Step Guides, here's another reason: The Step-by-Step Challenge. I’ll give away some cool stuff to some of the people who complete all of the Step-by-Step Guides.

Here's how it works:

  1. Complete at least 35 of the 38 Step-by-Step Guides. You don't have to do them all because some of them require specialized hardware (e.g., the Cluster Service Guide). Of course, if you can do them all, that's even better! And don't rush through them because of the Challenge. Take your time and really learn the material as you go.
  2. After you've finished at least 35 of them, send me an email at forumpro@certtutor.net. One of the CertTutor forum pros or I will have a few questions for you about the Guides (just to keep you honest!) and some additional instructions.
  3. The first five people to successfully complete all of the instructions will receive some cool surprise gifts courtesy of CertTutor.net.

I feel very strongly about your need to do these Step-by-Step Guides—strong enough that I’m willing to give you a chance to get free stuff just for doing them. I don't get anything out of your doing the Step-by-Step Guides—nothing except for the knowledge that I’ve made it easier for people to gain some killer Win2K skills. And that's more than enough reward for me!