Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CompTIA's A+ Update to Include Windows 7 Content: LabSim Is Ready

At the recent CompTIA Breakaway 2010 conference, CompTIA announced they are updating the A+ exam objectives to include Windows 7 as a required operating system. In A+ Essentials (exam 220-602), Domains 3.0 and 4.0 will be updated (see the official updated objectives), and in A+ Practical Application (exam 220-702), Domains 2.0 and 4.0 will be updated (see the official updated objectives).

Though CompTIA has not specified exactly when the changes will take place, there will likely be a beta period when new questions are tested in exams but not counted toward test-takers’ scores. After the beta period, successful questions will be kept in the exam question pool. TestOut estimates that the beta period may conclude as early as late December 2010.

How will the changes affect TestOut’s LabSim A+ courses?
CompTIA’s addition of Windows 7 questions in the A+ exams should have no impact on test-takers who train with LabSim A+ courses. LabSim A+ courses already include Windows 7 content, and the LabSim A+ courses will be updated with new Windows 7 practice exam questions before CompTIA’s changes are in effect.

LabSim A+ courses already include Windows 7 content.
As TestOut was developing LabSim courses for the new A+ exams, Windows 7 was already in final beta. Even though it was not required by the CompTIA objectives, TestOut chose to include Windows 7 content in the courses, knowing that people would need to be familiar with the newest operating system both at home and in the workplace. Comparing LabSim A+ content to the updated exam objectives, TestOut only needs to make minor additions to the LabSim A+ courses.

LabSim A+ content will update before Windows 7 exam questions are used.

As CompTIA gets closer to including Windows 7 questions in their exams (both beta and eventually scored questions), LabSim A+ exam preparation will be updated to include Windows 7 practice questions. TestOut anticipates having new practice questions added long before Windows 7 questions are required for the live certification exams.

As soon as any additional content is modified or added to LabSim A+ courses, users will immediately see those changes.

What should I do differently as I teach A+?
If you teach A+ and would like to help your students succeed with Windows 7, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Other than some interface changes and a few new features, Windows 7 is very similar to Windows Vista. Windows 7 has the same system requirements, system files are in the same locations, and most tasks can be completed using the same methods as in Windows Vista.
  • When upgrading to Windows 7, remember the general upgrade rule:
    An in-place upgrade is possible when moving up one operating system version (such as from Vista to Windows 7). A clean install is required when moving up two or more versions (such as from Windows XP to Windows 7).
    For example, when upgrading from Windows XP, you can do an in-place upgrade to Windows Vista, but you must do a clean install to move to Windows 7.
  • Backup and Restore in Windows now includes the ability to back up specific files.
  • A library in Windows 7 is a way to organize and share files and folders. A library is like a virtual directory that includes files and folders from many different locations. Users access files in the library through the library folder instead of browsing to specific folders in various locations.
  • The new HomeGroup feature allows computers on a local area network to easily share files and printers.

Specific interface changes that make Windows 7 different from Windows Vista include:
  • The Sidebar has been removed in Windows 7. All gadgets float freely on the desktop.
  • Icons can now be pinned to the taskbar or the Start Menu by right-clicking the application.
  • The “Show Desktop” button is on the right side of the taskbar. Hovering over the button makes the content of all open windows disappear (called “Peek”); clicking the button minimizes all open windows.
  • “Snap” is a new feature that maximizes a window as you drag its border to the edge of the screen. Snapping multiple windows on the screen tiles them side-by-side.
  • “Shake” lets you hide all but the current window. Click the top window border and shake the mouse to hide or unhide all other open windows.

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