Microsoft Virtual Academy is turning into an incredibly useful source of online training, and Windows 8 is no exception. Even though there will be a big influx of Windows 8.1 content in the months to come, much of the underpinnings remain the same, so spending some time learning more about Windows 8 is going to ease your introduction to Windows 8.1, especially if you have avoided any interaction with Windows 8.

What’s the problem with avoiding Windows 8 and waiting for Windows 8.1 content? The best comparison I can give was what happened during the introduction of Windows Vista. Those that chose to completely avoid learning about deploying and supporting Windows Vista were at a disadvantage when Windows 7 came out. I spent a huge amount of time in Windows 7 events showcasing “new” features in the OPK and the OS that people in the audience loved, and then I revealed that these were things that Windows Vista supported as well.

While you could argue that skipping Windows Vista learning saved time, you also have to think about how much of this learning would have also been applicable to Windows Server 2008. When it comes to things such as troubleshooting and deployment, well, there’s a huge amount of carryover from one to the other.

I’m seeing a similar thing now – those who have avoided touching Windows 8 are unaware of improvements in the ADK for easing deployment, have no idea of how internal apps can be deployed, just to name a few. The problem occurs when someone in management decides that downgrading new touch capable devices to Windows 7 is not an option, and you have a very short timeframe to get up to speed. An investment in Windows 8 now means that new Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices that come into your environment can have you looking like the IT Pro that your organisation expects you to be.

As I’ve been involved in delivering some Windows Server 2012 exam cram sessions for Microsoft I’ve also been exposed to the negatives of skipping Windows 8 learnings – for some it was really the first time they had to see a great deal of the new UI, and areas likes the ADK, SKU upgrades and others were essentially new concepts instead of being refreshers.

Here’s the current list of Windows 8 courses on MVA to date, some have been there for a while, and others have been added more recently.

Operating and Managing a Secure Windows 8 Environment

Deploying Windows 8

Exploring Windows 8

Planning And Preparing For Windows 8

Troubleshooting Windows 8

Windows 8 for IT Pros Jump Start

Windows 8 Security Insights