The MCDST: Certifying Your Desktop Support Skills (Exam 70-272)

Wednesday Jan 5th 2005 by Steve Rowe

Want to add more certification stripes to your resume? Gain certification that shows you can diagnose and troubleshoot productivity applications on the Windows XP operating system.

In the last article, you began our look at Microsoft's MCDST certification. To review, the MCDST certification is intended to prove that you have the skills to support end-users and troubleshoot desktops running the Microsoft Windows operating systems. This is an up and coming certification that validates one's skills as a desktop support technician. As you saw in the last article, this credential requires you to pass two exams. You covered the 70-271 "Supporting Users and Troubleshooting a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System" exam in the last article. In this article, you will cover the second exam, the 70-272 "Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System" exam.

Exam 70-272—Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System

This exam covers your skills in diagnosing and troubleshooting productivity applications on the Windows XP operating system. Desktop technicians spend plenty of time configuring and troubleshooting office applications, e-mail applications, and Internet browsers as part of their daily duties. For this exam, Microsoft will test your abilities with configuring and troubleshooting Office applications, Outlook and Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer as they run on top of a Windows XP operating system. The following table highlights the skills and objectives Microsoft has set for this exam:

Objective Skills Measured Explanations
Configuring and Troubleshooting Applications Configure and Troubleshoot Office applications, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer This objective requires you to be able to install these applications. Also, you must be able to configure user accounts and compatibility settings. You also must be able to configure these applications for multi-user computers and troubleshoot file system access and permission problems as related to these applications.
Resolving Issues Related to Usability Resolve issues related to support features found in each of these applications This objective requires you to be able to properly configure Office applications, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, and XP and interpret error messages received from these applications. Critical skills for a desktop technician to have!
Resolving Issues Related to Application Customization Resolve issues related to customizing Office applications, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer Users tend to have customization favorites for productivity software. Having toolbars set a certain way, having their Favorites ready in Internet Explorer, and having their e-mail data available and correct are critical items a desktop technician must be able to provide. You must also be able to customize XP settings, such as folders, fonts, Start menu and taskbar, and so forth, to work with these productivity applications as well.
Configuring and Troubleshooting Connectivity for Applications Identify and troubleshoot name resolution, NIC, LAN/Routing and Remote Access, Firewall, and locally attached device problems. Most productivity applications from Microsoft have a connectivity component to them. E-mail and Internet applications are obvious; however, Office also has strong Web components for Internet publishing and document sharing as well. As a technician, you will need to make sure network components such as NIC's, LAN connectivity, Remote Access, and name resolution problems are fixed so that sharing can occur. Also, sometimes firewall configurations make e-mail, Internet use, and document sharing difficult as well; this requires your intervention to correct.
Configuring Application Security Identify, troubleshoot, and respond to security permissions and incident problems This objective assesses your ability to troubleshoot problems with access to local and network resources along with dealing with insufficient user permissions. Also, you will need to be able to respond to security incidents and virus attacks.

The previous information is just a snapshot of what is expected for successfully passing the 70-272 exam. Always be sure to stay current with the vendor's objective list because this can change without notice. Be sure to check out for a current listing of the 70-271 and 70-272 exam objectives.

Where Do I Sign Up?

If you are ready to take the MCDST exams, there are two groups you can choose from to register for and take your MCDST exams. The following list gives you their information:

  • Pearson VUE: VUE testing centers can be contacted via the Web at
  • Thomson Prometric: Prometric exam centers can be contacted via

Either test center will register you for the exam and you will choose either a VUE center or a Prometric center (depending on which group you choose to do business with) near you where you can take the exam. Microsoft exams typically cost $125 to take. If you fail an exam, you must repay to take the exam. A hint for those interested in certification exams is to scour the Internet for groups offering certification vouchers. You can purchase vouchers from some places at a minimal cost that will help save you significant amounts of money on your exam costs, whether it be the first time you take an exam or the fifth time you take an exam.


Desktop technician work can be very rewarding. Helping users with their computing needs gives one a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. As with any area of IT, staying current with your skills and knowledge is critical. The MCDST certification is a great way to build knowledge necessary for supporting a Windows XP environment. If you are looking to enter desktop support or enhance your skills, having an A+ certification from CompTIA and the MCDST credential will give you the solid foundation for building a successful desktop support career.

As with any certification you pursue, always seek out multiple study guides because having a variety of views and experiences from authors will enrich your study. Find lots of practice questions, too. Give yourself plenty of opportunities to measure your current learning and to build confidence in your exam-taking abilities. If classroom settings are better for your learning style, several training centers exist that can satisfy this need. Also, look into community colleges or technical schools for training, too. Often, these avenues may be more economical and more in-depth with their training. Best of luck!

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