Microsoft is a global software company whose roots stretch all the way back to 1975. When a very early personal computer called the Altair 8800 hit the market that year, Bill Gates and Paul Allen quickly saw an opportunity and began creating software to make the very simple machine more user-friendly. After working directly for the company manufacturing Altair 8800s, in 1976 Gates and Allen left and founded Microsoft.
In 1981, Microsoft collaborated with IBM to create the software for their first entry into the home computer market. This collaboration was wildly successful, and Microsoft and IBM became THE name in personal computers very quickly. In 1985 the first Windows operating system, inspired by Apple’s graphical user interface, was released.
From success to outright domination
Microsoft was already quite dominant in the personal computer market by the time they released Windows, but by the time the 1990s rolled around they had captured something like 97% of the market.
Although it was Apple who created the first graphical interface – the kind of operating system we use today – Microsoft followed up with Windows very quickly before Apple could capitalize on their innovation to seize a bigger share of the market. Microsoft was able to leverage this to create a virtual monopoly because Windows was not compatible with Apple’s operating system, and software created for one operating system usually wouldn’t work with the other. Microsoft’s superior market position also allowed them to keep their unit prices lower, increasing the chance they would be chosen over competitors. Soon, a snowball effect occurred.
Birth of a monopoly
Users wanted their computers to be compatible with those of their friends, most of their friends had PCs running windows, so they bought PCs running Windows. This meant there was far more demand for Windows-compatible software, and so most software companies mostly focused on that – which also made such software cheaper. Lower prices, more access to software, and market saturation meant that most workplaces also chose Microsoft products.
In 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0, which featured the first versions of MS Word and Excel. Not only did these applications get great reviews they also came bundled with Microsoft’s operating system, making it unlikely that customers would go out and buy a separate application. These factors meant that Excel and Word quickly knocked Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect off their perch as the world’s leading spreadsheet and word processing applications. That was the final blow to their competitors, and from 1990 until today Microsoft has dominated the personal computer market.
Microsoft IT Certifications: still relevant in a changing world
Things have changed a lot since then, of course, because personal computers no longer dominate the broader personal technology market as they once did. So, while Microsoft still crushes when it comes to home computers, their share of that wider market has dropped from 97% to 20% with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and other devices technologies.
Despite these changes, a solid understanding of Microsoft operating systems is absolutely essential if you want to pursue a career in IT. The vast majority of personal computers and office computer networks still run Windows. As such, really understanding how to install, maintain, troubleshoot, and work within the Microsoft framework is the foundational education any IT professional requires.
Straight from the horse’s mouth
Conveniently, Microsoft offers training and certification directly. As you would expect, an official certification directly from Microsoft bestows powerful advantages in the job market. The certifications offered by Microsoft range from basic to advanced, meaning they can help you at all stages of your career, from landing your first job in IT to your dream career in network management, programming, or software design.
Entry-level certifications from Microsoft
The team at CCI can help you prepare for four of Microsoft’s most important entry-level certifications, covering the basics you’ll need to successfully find an IT job.
Windows Operating Systems Fundamentals
Microsoft’s Windows Operating Systems Fundamentals certification assesses your ability to carry out a range of technical tasks using Microsoft technology. The areas assessed are:
- Understanding operating system configurations – this includes configuring a system’s control panels, desktop settings, applications, tools, and more. Installing and upgrading client systems – for example, identifying a current Windows OS edition along with its potential upgrade paths.
- Managing applications – you’ll need to be able to configure a range of applications, antivirus settings, and user accounts.
- Managing files and folders – this involves understanding file systems, file sharing, encryption, and digital libraries.
- Device management – connecting devices, understanding internal devices, and managing various storage options.
- Operating system maintenance – essential skills such as system backup and recovery methods, using maintenance tools, and configuring system updates.
Installing and Configuring Windows Servers
This certification assesses the following skills:
- Install and configure servers – the ability to install and configure servers, along with storage options.
- Configure server roles and features – this involves configuring files, sharing access, printing and document services, and configuring servers for remote management
- Configure Hyper-V – checking you have the skills to create and configure virtual machine settings, virtual machine storage, and virtual networks.
- Deploy and configure core network services – dealing with configuring services such as a computer’s IP address, DHCP services, and DNS services. Install and administer
- Active Directory – you’ll need to install domain controllers, as well as create and manage
- Active Directory users, computers, groups, and organizational units. Create and manage group policy – abilities such as creating group policy objects and configuring security policies, application restriction policies, and Windows firewalls.
The competencies measure by Microsoft’s Networking Fundamental certification include:
- Understanding network infrastructures – understanding the concept of internet, intranet, and extranet, as well as understanding local area networks, wide area networks, wireless networking, and more.
- Understanding network hardware – you’ll need to know all about switches, routers, and different types of connecting cables and their properties.
- Understanding protocols and services – competent understanding of the use of a range of network types including open systems interconnection, Windows internet name service, and TCP/IP.
Ensuring the security of computers, both in the home and at work, is more important than ever. Microsoft’s Security Fundamentals certification makes sure you’re ready by testing your knowledge in these areas:
- Understanding security layers – as well as core security principles you need to understand the difference between a computer’s physical security, Internet security, and wireless security.
- Understanding operating system security – this covers user authentication, password policies, permissions, audit policies, encryption, and malware.
- Understanding network security – working with dedicated firewalls, network isolation, and protocol security.
- Understanding security software – this covers client protection, email protection, and server protection.
Next week we will be looking at CompTIA and the certifications they offer IT professionals. Want more information on how CCI Training can help kick-start your IT career? Visit our Computer and Network Administration page, fill out the form and we’ll be in touch.