I get asked a lot of questions (I’m still working on “how exactly big is the universe?”) but one that always comes up is the following: “Is there any training available for [insert product name here]?” Thankfully I normally answer that question with a resounding “Absolutely” followed usually by “And it’s free to!” Having said that, I wanted to point out just a few resources that Microsoft makes accessible to really anyone interested in technology that’s looking for some training (i.e. architect, developer, tester, IT decision maker, IT manager, etc.).

Microsoft Worldwide Events
URL: https://msevents.microsoft.com | http://www.microsoft.com/learning



Whether its in-person events, live webcasts, on-demand webcasts or virtual labs these two sites are your one stop shop for training events. Search by a number of criteria’s to narrow down the list and you should be able to find the exact training you’re looking for.

Channel 9
URL: http://channel9.msdn.com



C9 has some of the best videos around along with an active forum group. The “Coding4Fun” section is a great part of the site that has real-world projects to download as well as blogs, articles and current events (e.g. MIX, PDC, etc.).

Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN)
URL: http://msdn.microsoft.com



This goes without saying although I’d be remised if I didn’t mention MSDN. This is a critical resource when it comes to application training and development. The library is second to none; it has code samples galore and the learning section contains free technical training on emerging Microsoft products and technologies. Obviously if you’re reading this then you’re probably familiar with the community and forum aspects of the site but if you’re new here then you should definitely explore those areas.

TechNet
URL: http://technet.microsoft.com



While this site is geared more towards the I.T. professional who deals with infrastructure on a daily basis, it has some of the best "How Do I?" videos you’ll find available on the web. Again the forums, blogs and Wiki articles are a wealth of information. One feature that may get overlooked is “TechNet Radio.” Here you can download a WMV/MP3 version to your device so you can listen to the content when on a plane, train or on a planet that doesn’t have a ‘Net connection.

CodePlex
URL: http://www.codeplex.com



If you’re a code junkie and can’t breathe without having code being displayed on your 3rd 32” LCD monitor than this is your nirvana. CodePlex is Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. You can use CodePlex to create new projects to share with the world, join others who have already started their own projects, or use the applications on this site and provide feedback. What better way to learn than from collaborating with others and seeing what works and what doesn’t?

Summary

These are but a few sites’ that provide an immense amount of free training material. Of course there is no shortage of third party vendors who provide paid workshops but if you want some exposure to either new technology without making a substantial investment or just need a problem solved (i.e. Q&A session on a forum) then definitely visit one of the aforementioned sites.