Microsoft has a great website called Microsoft Learning Manager that offers loads of training material on the products they sell, and many of the training modules are free. This is great for users who are constantly being changed from one version of a Microsoft product to another (can anyone say Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 or Office 2003/2007/2010). Well now you can get some free training on these products, the only catch is you have to find it.
First thing first, visit the site and register to use it HERE. You have to sign up for a Windows Live ID (if you have hotmail, MSN email, or a Microsoft Passport account you already have a Windows Live ID, use that account to sign-in). If not you can sign up for a Windows Live ID by following the instructions on the page. You don’t have to sign in to view the products offered, but when you find one you want to access you will be asked to sign in, so you might as well sign up now and avoid it later.
Once you have registered and are logged into the site it will start you out at your My Learning page. Now if you have already added training to your plan you will see it listed on this page, if you just signed up this will be blank. You can either click on the button that says learning catalog or if you just want to get to the free stuff look in the lower right hand corner at the RSS feeds and click on Free Products. This will take you to the list of free training the site has and you can browse through and find the ones that apply to what you need.
As you browse you will see some blue hyper links below each training course description, they will normally say Save to my learning (if it says in my learning guess what you have it in your learning plan already, real hard concept to grasp I know!) you can click on these at anytime to add it to your learning plan. Once you have all the courses you want in your plan (I only choose free ones because I am cheap) then you can go to the My Learning button in the upper left hand corner. All the courses you added will be in here now and you can get started.
To start a course all you have to do is click on the Get Started hyper link and it will open the module in another window and you will be on your way. I found that the site doesn’t work great in Firefox and was buggy, I suggest working in IE (you won’t hear me say that a lot) for best results when using this website. It’s a Microsoft site so they probably purposely program it not to work in Firefox.
I signed up for all 3 of the free Windows 7 classes and two of the courses gave me errors saying that they were no longer available when I tried to open them. Also when I tried to logout off the site it never did log me out until I went in and manually deleted my cookies. This was a bit weird and a pain when I was trying to go back and explain the signup process for this article, since it kept me logged in and I couldn’t remember the process and needed to walk through it again.
The modules are very easy to follow along with when they work. The courses are broken down into sections and you can start and end where ever you choose to within the program. This is nice, it allows you to skip the parts of the training you think don’t apply or you are already familiar with. It also allows you to stop the training and go back to the spot where you left off.
There is also an offline player that you can download and install so you can view the material offline if you need to. In order to view the content offline you have download the E-Learning Offline player and install it. Then you have to go to the course you want to view offline and download the material for offline viewing. I found it easier to view the material online; I just wanted you to know there is an option for offline viewing.
If you are looking for some good free training on Microsoft products I suggest you check out the Microsoft Learning Manager. Keep in mind not all courses are free, you can typically find a few that are worthwhile, and the courses are forever changing and being updated. So you might not find one you like now but in a few weeks they may offer a free course on SQL or MOSS 2007 that you can take, so check back often.