Are you looking for training on software, but are on a limited budget? You are in luck. Microsoft Virtual Academy has free training on everything from Azure to Windows 10 development to Exchange Administration.

The courses are delivered by Microsoft engineers or partners - many of them leaders in the software industry. The courses I looked at ranged in length from 5 minutes to 8 hours and combine lecture, slides, and demos.

You can browse courses by topic (such as HTML5, App Development, or DevOps) or by a specific product (such as Windows Server, Microsoft Azure, or SharePoint). Of course, there is also a search box where you can enter a word or phrase in the title of the course you are seeking.

There are two ways to watch an MVA course - live or archived. Watching a course live has the advantage that you can ask questions during the broadcast. The presenters and a few others are available in a chat room to answer your questions.  Archived courses are nice because you can pause them and even download them to your PC or mobile device in the format of your choice. Want an idea of the quality of the course before you watch it? Viewers rating scores are published, along with the number of people who rated the course to give you an idea of the validity of each rating.

Each course is assigned a level (100 for content targeting Beginners up to 400 for Expert content); and each course is dated, which makes it easy to decide if it may be obsolete (an important consideration when talking about fast-moving technology like Microsoft Azure).

If you make it through a course, you can earn “points” but I have not figured out what these points are good for. I think they are kind of like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The biggest problem with Microsoft Virtual Academy is that there is so much material. There is literally more content than you can possibly watch. So the challenge becomes trying to find the courses most relevant to you. As of this writing, there are over 80 courses just on Visual Studio 2013 and nearly 70 on Microsoft Azure.

You can find these hundreds of online courses at Did I mention they are all free?