Reimagining the Microsoft Certification exam UI experience

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Microsoft has redesigned their certification exam UI, bring a more modern and helpful look to the exam interface. A lot of these were often talked about suggestions and all of them are very welcomed to help out in the exam room. From a nice dark mode to your exam progress indicator, it’s there to help make you know what’s going on in the exam and help you manage your time and reduce that exam stress.

Highlights of the new and improved UI include:

  • The ability to turn the exam clock on and off.

  • An expandable exam menu toolbar on the side of the screen, providing more space for the question and minimizing scrolling.

  • A new flyout tools menu, including:

    • Exam Question Details, providing a quick count of items answered, unanswered, marked for review, and marked for comment.
    • Exam Progress, offering a visual indicator of how much of the exam you’ve completed and how much remains.
  • A design that minimizes vertical and horizontal scrolling.

  • A more logical placement of the Review later and Leave feedback boxes.

  • A subway map that shows where you are in the exam.

  • An exam progress bar with each question so you know exactly how many sections and questions remain.

  • An improved review screen, with a filtered view that displays questions that are answered, unanswered, marked for review, or marked for comment. Review mode includes labels throughout, reminding you which items you’re reviewing.

  • Modernized color scheme options, including Dark mode.

  • Added calculation history to the calculator.

What’s new for IT pros in Windows 11, version 23H2

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Microsoft has a new post up about what is new in Windows 11 version 23H2 that benefits the IT professionals deploying Windows 11 in their environment. A lot of talk lately about the new desktop AI from Microsoft, Co-Pilot (currently in preview), which is included in this release. Some good security improvements to Windows Hello, Windows Firewall, and others.

There are also a few additional enhancements in this scoped release, such as:

  • The ability to ungroup icons and show labels on the taskbar for easy access to open applications and files.

  • A more seamless File Explorer with native support for RAR and other file compression formats.

  • Recommended websites in the Start menu based on each person’s browsing history. (This feature can be managed using a policy.)

  • A new volume mixer to control the volume and audio output more easily for each application.

  • The ability to set up a multi-app kiosk on Windows 11 devices with a customized Start menu showing only allowed apps for each account type.

  • Federated sign-in for Education editions of Windows 11.

  • Dev Drive, a new form of storage volume designed to improve performance for key developer workloads. Gain more control over storage volume settings and security, including trust designation, antivirus configuration, and administrative control over filters.


Updates to Snipping Tool and Notepad incoming for Insiders

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There are a couple new updates for Windows Insiders for a couple popular applications built into Windows – Snipping Tool and Notepad. A very welcome addition to Notepad is that it saves your work as you go, so no more “oops, I forgot to save” with Notepad.

With this update, Notepad will start automatically saving your session state allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return. Notepad will automatically restore previously open tabs as well as unsaved content and edits across those open tabs. Saved session state does not impact any of your files, though, and it is still your choice whether to save or discard unsaved changes to files anytime you close a tab. You can turn this feature off in app settings if you would prefer to have a fresh start every time you open Notepad.

Microsoft Certification Exams going ‘Open Book’, allowing Microsoft Learn.

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Microsoft is now going ‘open book’ style on the role based certification exams. They are allowing the use of Microsoft Learn resources during the exam. This can be very handy for looking things up, similar to how things are in real life, rather than rote memorization of things (including SKUs, etc.).

Because this is an exam resource, much like a calculator, exam time will not be extended. We are not changing the way we write our questions; they will continue to focus on problems or scenarios that require real world experience to solve. As a result, this resource is intended to be used for those questions that describe problems where you may need to look something up on Microsoft Learn. It is not something you should be leveraging to answer every question.


New Insider Builds and Bug Bash

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I always love a good Bug Bash from the Insiders team. I do miss the excellent webcasts and the team chats from the past. But, to highlight this weeks Bug Bash, the team has released build 23516 to the Dev channel and builds 22621.2129 and 22631.2129 to the Beta channel.

August 2023 Bug Bash: Starting today August 2nd, the bug bash begins and will run through Monday August 7th at 11:59pm PDT. The bug bash will span the latest features available in the currently available preview builds across the Canary, Dev, and Beta Channels. Check Feedback Hub for quests!

Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23506 [Dev Channel]

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Microsoft Insiders can look forward to a new install if you’re in the dev channel for Windows 11, build 23506. Some new security features. Also, ISO’s are available for this build for easy installation if you choose that route.

With Windows Hello for Business (WHFB), Windows provides organizations with a strong, phish-resistant credential, helping customers move to a passwordless future. Enterprise customers can now set the EnablePasswordlessExperience policy that promotes a user experience on AAD joined machines for core authentication scenarios without requiring a password. This new experience hides passwords from certain Windows authentication scenarios and leverages passwordless recovery mechanisms, such as WHFB PIN reset, if necessary.

Azure AD is now Entra ID

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Microsoft is rebranding some of it’s Azure services, including Azure AD (Active Directory). Azure AD is now going to be referred to as Microsoft Entra ID. Nothing functional will change, only the name and branding. The name change should be completed by the end of 2023 in all Microsoft documentation and portals.

To simplify our product naming and unify our product family, we’re changing the name of Azure AD to Microsoft Entra ID. Capabilities and licensing plans, sign-in URLs, and APIs remain unchanged, and all existing deployments, configurations, and integrations will continue to work as before. Starting today, you’ll see notifications in the administrator portal, on our websites, in documentation, and in other places where you may interact with Azure AD. We’ll complete the name change from Azure AD to Microsoft Entra ID by the end of 2023. No action is needed from you.

Licensing names have changed, but their functionality is exactly the same as they were previously. Nothing has been lost or gained in the transition.

There’s been mixed reactions from some admins across Reddit and Lemmy, from ‘meh’ to ‘not another name change?!’. Microsoft has been pretty notorious in changing the names of it’s services over the years including Skydrive to Onedrive, multiple ‘Threat Protection’ to Defender, and several others, with little explanation other than marketing.

For those that are studying for an exam, there will be a period where things may get confusing, with some documentation saying one thing and the official Microsoft documentation, portals, etc. saying something different. Just keep in mind that Microsoft Entra ID used to be the simple Microsoft Azure AD.

New Windows 11 Build

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A new Windows 11 build has been released to Windows Insiders to the Beta channel. Some good fixes in there for issues I’ve seen posted about.

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.746 and Build 22623.746 (KB5018490) to the Beta Channel.

  • Build 22623.746 = New features rolling out.
  • Build 22621.746 = New features off by default.

REMINDER: Insiders who were previously on Build 22622 will automatically get moved to Build 22623 via an enablement package. The enablement package artificially increments the build number for the update with new features getting rolled out and turned on to make it easier to differentiate from devices with the update with features off by default. This approach is being used for the Beta Channel only and is not indicative of any changes or plans for final feature rollouts.

Insiders who landed in the group with new features turned off by default (Build 22621.xxxx) can check for updates and choose to install the update that will have features rolling out (Build

New Surface Devices

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Microsoft has held their Surface Event, bringing several new upgrades to the Surface lineup, including the Surface Pro 9 and the Surface Laptop 5. I’ve owned several Surface devices, with the Surface Pro 2, 3, and 4. I’m looking at an upgrade with the Surface Laptop 5 this coming year. I would love to see more available options for upgrading the hardware (RAM and hard drive), but in a form factor so small (similar to the Apple Macbook Air), it’s understandable.

The Surface Pro lineup has a few options, with a power efficient Microsoft processor powering one of the models.

Surface Pro 9:

  • 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-1235U processor
  • 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1255U processor
  • Options with storage 256 GB and above built on the Intel® Evo™ platform

Surface Pro 9 with 5G:

  • Microsoft SQ® 3 processor

  • Neural Processing Unit (NPU)

October Patch Tuesday fixes Zero-Day and other issues

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Today is October’s Patch Tuesday, which brings in a fix for a active exploit as well as fixes for other issues. Notably, the recent Exchange zero-days were not given patches this time. BleepingComputer has more details on the CVE’s and what’s being patched.

  • 39 Elevation of Privilege Vulnerabilities

  • 2 Security Feature Bypass Vulnerabilities

  • 20 Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities

  • 11 Information Disclosure Vulnerabilities

  • 8 Denial of Service Vulnerabilities

  • 4 Spoofing Vulnerabilities