Hurray! The day is nearly upon us. Our beloved SharePoint 2010 RTM’ed (released to manufacturing) on April 16. After many months of hitting F5 on the SharePoint team blog, the wheels have finally started turning. Soon those much anticipated RTM bits will be trickling out to us, some sooner, some later, depending on the different Microsoft programs we’re in. By May 12, anyone that wants it should have it.

What does that mean? Well, we can finally start planning our upgrades, knowing that our testing will be legitimate. We can start getting our environments ready for the inevitable upgrade to SharePoint 2010. We can start living the dream that is using SharePoint 2010 on a day-to-day basis.

What steps can each of us take? The first, and I would argue the most important step, is education. Education comes in many forms, which is good, since many of us learn in different ways. In this time of reduced travel and training budgets, it is important to make the most of the dollars you do have. Fortunately there are a lot of quality free and cheap education options out there.

First and foremost, Microsoft has put a lot of resources into providing free SharePoint 2010 training. You can start that journey here, as well as at TechNet and MSDN. There are white papers, instructional videos and forums to browse, something for everybody. All free and all with the purpose of getting you up to speed with SharePoint 2010 as quickly as possible.

There is also a large community of bloggers that are tripping over each other trying to get as much SharePoint 2010 content out there as their fingers will let them. The blogs at SharePoint911 are as good of a place as any to start. The SharePoint ISV space is pitching in too. Check each of their websites to see what offerings they have.

There are also the community-led SharePoint Saturday events that are sweeping the nation, nay, the world. You can see a list of them here. They are free to attend, and if you have any SharePoint 2010 experience to share, offer to lead a session there. And let’s not forget great conferences like SPTechCon. While not free, it’s worth every penny.

Finally, when you have the bits, install them and play with them. Put all that writing and watching to practice. Kick the tires a bit, see what SharePoint 2010 really can do. Experience is a great way to learn. Make sure you blog your adventure. You can be sure if you had a problem, someone else will have it too, and you just might save them from pulling out their hair by blogging about it—with the solution, of course.

Todd Klindt is a consultant with SharePoint911.