Exam Reviews

Remember: Windows 98 is an Upgrade

You’ll be relieved to hear that this exam builds on your knowledge of previous versions of Windows.

By the time you read this, the way I spent my August vacation will be a distant memory—sitting on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland studying for the Windows 98 beta exam while my son bodysurfed the waves. I recall perplexed stares from other tourists when they realized my beach reading was the Windows 98 Resource Kit. But I knew it would come in handy in preparing for the beta version of the new Windows 98 exam.

The primary audience for this exam is the Windows NT network administrator responsible for supporting 50 to 100 Windows 98 users remotely. The secondary audience for this exam is Level 2 or Level 3 help-desk people handling desktop installation, configuration, network connectivity, and troubleshooting support in medium to large companies.

You’ll find yourself at a loss on this exam if you haven’t networked Windows 98 in a workgroup or domain setting. You’d be smart to prepare for this exam by setting up a test lab network with two Windows 98 machines and an NT Server system to simulate network connectivity and remote administration scenarios. One of those machines should be a Windows 98-capable machine that you’ll be upgrading from Windows 3.1 or Windows 95.

Implementing and Supporting Windows 98, 70-098
Reviewer’s Rating:
“This exam shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve taken either of the Windows 95 exams. After all, Windows 98 is an upgrade. If you’ve been administering Windows 98 on an NT network with TCP/IP, you’ll have a definite advantage.”

Title:
Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows 98, 70-098.

Current Status: Live as of October 1998.

Who should take it?
It's a core option for the MCP, MCSE (NT 4.0 track), and MCSE+Internet titles.

What classes prepare you?
• Course 955A: Supporting Microsoft Windows 98, an instructor-led five-day ATEC class.

Where To Focus

My analysis of the Windows 98 beta exam is based on sitting through it—all 137 questions and three-and-a-half hours. This column will focus on where to use your study time most effectively to prepare for the exam.

If you’ve spent significant time in the past studying for and taking Windows 3.x, Windows 95, or Windows NT Workstation exams, you’ll probably be relieved to know that your investment in that knowledge is protected with this exam. The exam developers recognize the basic constructs of Windows support and have developed questions that build on that existing knowledge in a logical progression. My comfort level grew during the beta exam as I realized that I could apply my previous Windows support knowledge.

A major portion of the exam centered on using Windows 98 in a TCP/IP setting. In fact, you can expect the impact of the Internet to show itself in every skill area. Although a calculator is provided on every screen, you won’t have to figure out subnetting. You should, however, understand how to configure Windows 98, TCP/IP, and Proxy Server. If you’ve set up a test lab or have access to a corporate intranet with Proxy Server, test configuration and filtering settings with Windows 98 Internet Explorer | Internet Properties | Connection tab | Proxy Server | Advanced button.

Remote administration is another pervasive topic. Don’t overlook remote options when planning for Windows NT and Novell NetWare mixed environments. The remote strengths of Windows 98 also apply to remote computers and network printers. Pay special attention to the differences between Net Watcher and System Monitor, especially in regards to monitoring system performance. Test these utilities in a networked setting to understand how they work on more than a stand-alone machine.

On Planning

You should know the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 98: a 486-DX 66 MHz computer with 16M of RAM and a 200-to-350M hard disk. This baseline of knowledge will be important in determining eligible systems for upgrade.

System policies have become the de facto method for deploying Windows desktops. The Windows 98 exam continues to test your knowledge here, as did the Windows 95 exams before it. You should understand the differences indicated by a clear, checked, or shaded check box in the template option of the Systems Policy Editor. Know where the policy file, config.pol, resides in a Windows NT network: in the Netlogon share of the Primary Domain Controller of the user’s domain.

Tip: Be absolutely sure when to choose share-level access and user-level access. Much of the beta exam is focused on the cause and effect of Windows 98 user-level access in a Windows NT setting. Spend time testing user-level access options between the Windows 98 networked systems in your Windows NT test or real-world domain.

Installation and Configuration

I’ve never seen dual-booted systems in user work areas (would you trust your data to a dual-booted system?). But technical support staffers are inclined to use this feature, so it’s on the test. Expect to be tested on file structures (FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS) in relationship to dual-booted Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 systems.

Believe it or not, one of the two ringers I encountered pertained to OS/2 and Windows 98. It’s important to realize that you can’t install Windows 98 on a computer running OS/2. You’ll have to delete the OS/2 autoexec.bat and config.sys files before running Windows 98 Setup. After running Setup from MS-DOS you’ll no longer be able to start OS/2 once Windows 98 is installed.

Tip: If you build a three-system network lab, don’t overlook the Windows 98 Dial-Up Networking Server and Personal Web Server options. Spend time configuring and testing how another Windows 98 system leverages these features through dial-up or on the local area network. Try managing browser access and content management with the Personal Web Manager across the network.

Configuring and Managing Resources

There’s a backup and restore data recovery scenario that tests your knowledge of the meaning of incremental vs. differential backup. In order to recover data after a system crash, you’ll have to understand what backup methods have been applied and how well the method chosen will apply itself to data restoration.

Tip: The other ringer on the exam involved MS-DOS application printing support. Windows 98 provides 32-bit virtual device print spooler support. This print function directs all MS-DOS application output destined for the printer port and prioritizes those jobs with the Windows 98 print spooler. This functionality results in a snappier return to the DOS application.

Integration and Interoperability

Expect to be tested on Novell NetWare connectivity to Windows 98 clients. Windows 98 allows either Client for Microsoft Networks or Client for NetWare to be installed, but not both. Windows 98 includes Services for NetWare Directory Services for NDS environments, so be familiar with how to configure these parameters. If you’re not on a Novell NetWare NDS network, refer to the Windows 98 Resource Kit technical support information.

You’ll want to know how to browse Network Neighborhood on NetWare networks. Please keep in mind that you can change your preferred server only if it’s a 4.x server in the same NDS that you’re logging into.

Tip: A “gimme” here is knowing how to combine File and Print Sharing for NetWare networks with enabling SAP advertising for Windows 98 systems to appear on the NetWare List.

Monitoring and Optimization

System Monitor is a Windows 98 tool used to track performance. Test this tool thoroughly and know how to use the new logging feature. Run it as a daily task to gauge Kernel | Memory Manager sub-options effectively. Refer to the tables in Chapter 26 of the Windows 98 Resource Kit on performance tuning for System Monitor settings and categories.

Another performance tool introduced with the Windows 98 Resource Kit is WinAlign. WinAlign.exe is designed to optimize the performance of executable code. Office 97 is a key Windows 98 application that WinAlign works with to format sections of binary files along 4K boundaries. Understand how this tool benefits Office 97 application performance.

Troubleshooting

Make sure you know how the administrator’s Windows 98 machine drives Windows 98 Registry Editor and System Monitor in dealing with a problem computer. Both computer systems must have user-level access chosen and the Remote Registry option installed; the remote computer must have both Remote Administration and Allow administrator privileges enabled. Remember that Windows 98 in a Windows NT network allows default access for the Domain Admins global group.

Tip: Be familiar with Windows 98 setup failure situations, including partial install and recovering from common Setup failures. The Windows 98 Resource Kit in Chapter 5, “Setup Technical Discussion,” includes extensive information that you should be familiar with before the exam.

Sidebars and Additional Info

The Microsoft Preparation Guide for this exam is located at www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/exams/examasearch.asp?
PageID=70-098
.

A self-study kit will soon be available from Microsoft Press. Course 1240, Microsoft Windows 98 Training Kit, is in development at this writing. The ISBN is 1-57231-730-2.

Also, four books were expected out by the time you read this review:

  • MCSE Windows 98 Exam Prep by Ed Tittel (The Coriolis Group, $44.99, ISBN 1-57610-290-4).
  • Windows 98 MCSE Study Guide by Morris Lewis and Mark B. Cooper (IDG Books Worldwide, $49.99, ISBN 0-7645-3113-1).
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Resource Kit (Microsoft Press, $69.99, ISBN 1-57231-644-6).
  • MCSE Training Guide: Windows 98 by Joseph Phillips (New RIders, $49.99, ISBN 1-56205-890-8).

Two Final Questions

Two questions come to mind regarding this exam. First, what didn’t appear on the beta? Although Microsoft has made significant statements about using adaptive testing methods and simulation questions to increase exam validity and curb question pirating, neither method appeared in the Supporting Windows 98 beta exam. [According to Microsoft, adaptive testing can only be implemented in an exam after statistics have been gathered from user testing.—Ed.] Several items mentioned in the Skills Area table never showed up on the exam either. I don’t recall seeing anything about ATM components, Fast Infrared, Power Management, ScanReg, or ScanRegW. Nor did I use any study knowledge of Winipcfg, Ping or Tracert (which may be due to the fact that you really have to test these utilities interactively on a network). If my beta exam was any indication, you won’t have to worry about NetMeeting, Outlook Express, or Internet Explorer either; Proxy Server configuration is the notable exception here.

The second question is one you should ask yourself: Should I take the Windows 98 exam or wait for the Windows NT 5.0 Workstation exam? IT implementation teams appear to be conforming to the Microsoft marketing message and adopting Windows NT Workstation 4.0 as the preferred desktop for future migration to Windows NT 5.0 Workstation. This relegates Windows 98 to a lessor role as the mobile user’s preferred OS, or the one shipping with newly ordered systems.

I mention these observations to help you decide the relative importance of this exam to your career. If you’re in a job that requires you to support Windows 98 for more than 20 users in a Windows NT setting, preparing for this exam will help you expand your skills and knowledge. If your company plans to sit tight with Windows 95 until Windows NT Workstation 5.0, then you may be better off waiting for next year’s Windows NT 5.0 certification track.

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