How to access free Microsoft Training for IT Professionals via Hands On Labs



Sometimes, you need 'Hands On Labs' to get the job done !


Welcome to the fourth of my new series of articles on free Microsoft training. 

In this series, we will be looking at the many different free options that are available for training, for IT Professionals, end-users, small businesses, and for presentations and sales.

To see ALL my articles on training, check out this link - Link

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How to access free Microsoft Training for IT Professionals 
via Hands On Labs

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Introduction -
Microsoft provides nearly 250 self paced labs to help you get the skills you need to succeed in your IT career. Hands on labs are the perfect way to learn new skills when you don't have easy access to a lab environment for the scenarios you want.

The labs are a great way to test and practice the knowledge you have gained from the previous training courses -
- How to access 3 months FREE training for Microsoft Certifications via Pluralsight - Link
- How to access 3 months FREE training for Microsoft Certifications via LinkedIn Learning - Link
- How to access unlimited free Microsoft Training videos for IT Professionals via EdX - Link


All Microsoft Training Hands On Labs - Link


Navigating the site
Once you have logged in with your Microsoft account (...@outlook.com - etc), you will be sent to the main Self Paced Labs page. As of the 14th of June 2018, there are 243 self paced labs, and a very large percentage are new.




















Finding labs
You will get the best results for finding the self-paced labs you want by either
1. Searching for keywords - or
2. Expanding the Product section and selecting your preferred product.






















Tip - 
Try both techniques as it is a lot of trial and error as you will get different results when searching for the same technology. You may also want to try filtering by Job Roles and the other items on the menu on the left, but I didn't find those filters worked as well.


Method 1 - Searching for keywords - This is the best method !




















Simply search for your keyword in the search box to view the associated labs.

Searching for the keyword - 'Azure' retrieves 49 self paced labs



Method 2 - Expanding the Product section and selecting your preferred product.
Simply expand the 'Product' menu and scroll down to select the product you want hands on labs for.
I have selected - Azure - in this instance and have found 24 self paced labs.

You can even filter further by selecting multiple products.
Selecting both 'Azure' and 'Office 365' increases the results to 29 self paced labs.












It may take a while to navigate to find labs you want. 
For example, there is no option for Exchange in the Product section, but if you search for the keyword of 'Exchange', you will get four results.



I have decided to enrol in the Exhange lab - Installing the Exchange Server 2013 SP1 Edge Transport Server Role.

Enrolling into the Lab
Simply select the button - View Details, and confirm you are not a robot.
Then click - Launch this lab - and in a short time your lab will be ready.
Once your lab is ready, you can select - Open your lab -

How the labs work -
The courses are all browser based and in the example below, you can see that in this course you are presented with a server on the left and the course content on the right.



















Surprisingly, the server wasn't locked down too much. On the domain controller, I was able to update the NIC settings and save, but when I attempt to rename the DC, the option is removed (on a 'real' server you receive a warning if you attempt to rename a DC).

Navigating the Hands on Lab.
On the right hand side, you switch between the course content or select the server you want to work on by selecting the appropriate tab.

Switching to course content - click on the Content tab


















Switching to select different servers - Click on the Machines tab































Selecting the server you want
Once on the Machines tab, you can select the server you need to work on.
Here you can see I have selected the server - MSIgnite-SetA-MBX1





























The left side of the browser automatically updates to the server you select -





























Switch back to Content to go through the course



Complete the course -

Scroll down through the content to continue through the course and perform all the learning tasks associated with the lab, switching to the Machines tab to access each server as needed.

Note that some labs need an Office 365 E5 tenant to be created. You can create Office 365 trial tenancies for free, including E5 tenancies.


Summary - 
The hands on labs are an awesome way to practise and increase your skillset as you get access to lab environments that would normally take hours or days to create. You also don't need the hardware to create the VMs (or the costs associate with that).

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To see ALL my articles on training, check out this link - Link 

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Congratulations, you now know how to access free Microsoft Training for IT Professionals via Hands On Labs

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Check out a list of ALL of my tutorials here - Link



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