If you haven’t subscribe to our RSS feed (yeah, the orange button on the right side bar), you might want to do it. We have a little something for you to win when you let us know you have subscribed to the new Born to Learn:
Everyday, 3 lucky folks will each get a free Microsoft Certification voucher, valid for any Prometric centers.
It’s very simple - you subscribe to the new Born to Learn, AND post a comment to this post to let us know. We will do a random drawing at the end of the business day (Pacific time). If you win on the day, you will get an email from us. :)
If you don’t win the first day, no worries – come back the next day and check again – this daily drawing goes on daily until June 30, 2009. Everyday 3 exam vouchers will be given out. (Each person is limited to one free voucher.)
BTW, you want to leave us a valid email address... Otherwise we have no way of knowing who you are! The email address you leave when you comment will not show on the blog. :)
Oh, and for the folks that are not in the US - rest assured, the vouchers are valid worldwide~~ We wouldn t have done this if you guys can t participate... :-)
Update by Ken (6/18/09): If you came here straight from this month s MCP Flash, welcome! We d love your feedback, but before you jump in, you might want to review some of the earlier follow-up posts to this article (we ve been having this dialogue for a couple of weeks now)... might answer some of your questions before you ask them.
Addressing the white border issue
First look at Virtual Business Cards
Today, I am happy to announce that with accordance with the Microsoft Environmental Initiative, MCP Certificates are going GREEN!
To reduce the company s carbon footprint and impact on the environment, starting June 1, 2009, MCP certificates will transition from traditional paper to digital certificates.
Microsoft is committed to helping people and organizations around the world improve the environment and here are the highline benefits of this initiative:
· Reducing Waste and Carbon Footprint – no longer shipping envelopes and plastic wrap that ends up in landfills.
· Instant Access to Your MCP Certificate(s) – no longer waiting for it to arrive through the mail system.
· Same Credentials and Benefits – Same great certificates available
· Making Environmental Stewardship Part of Our Business Relationships.
What this means is starting July 1, 2009, we will no longer ship Welcome Kits. You will be able to still order a paper certificate for a shipping & handling fee and the wallet cards (as previously mentioned) are going digital early August. The features and coolness of that will worth the wait of one month.
Give us your feedback after you try out the new download site!
I’m an MCP!
Please reference the updated post here for information - http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2011/05/24/updates-to-the-transcript-and-certificate-updates-need-your-feedback.aspx
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be updating our certification transcripts and certificates, and you’ll probably notice some small but in some cases significant changes. For the full scoop and a sneak peek at the new look, keep reading!
Changes to Transcripts
Based on customer feedback, we’re consolidating the certifications on your transcripts, uniquely identifying each of them, and adding an inactive date where appropriate. I’ll explain in detail, but first let’s do a before-and-after comparison:
Notice how clean the new transcript looks on the right with certifications consolidated by track (MCITP, MCTS, MCSA: Security). This should make your transcript much easier for you, your clients and employers to read and understand.
Next, notice how we’ve organized all the various versions of, for example, MCTS underneath the “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” heading. Again, that’s to make the transcript easier to follow. We call the top-level boldface certifications your “certification tracks,” and the different flavors underneath are your individual “certifications.” In the example above, “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” is a certification track with two certifications (“SQL Server 2005” and “Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuration” underneath it.
Now some new pieces of information we are adding for each certification include:
1. Technology – This is the version of the product you’re certified on, for example Windows Server 2008.
2. Certification Number – This is like a serial number, uniquely identifying each certification you earn. It’s not your MCP ID—that’s your personal identifier—and it’s not the same thing as an exam number either. Someone else who earns the exact same certification will still have their own unique certification number—no two certification numbers are alike. (In case you’re wondering, certification numbers will be randomly generated—there’s no rhyme or reason to the numbers assigned). We’re adding this field because it’s required for our ISO 17024 certification (yes, even certification programs can be certified themselves!), but the cool thing about it is that it gives us the potential to modify our transcript sharing tool down the line so that you can enable people to verify an individual certification without sharing your entire transcript (but that’s in the future).
3. Inactive Date – This is a big change: many of our certifications now feature an “inactive date” which signifies either that your certification is no longer in mainstream demand, that Microsoft no longer supports the product on which the certification is based, or that you have not met recertification requirements (if any). You won’t always see this field on your transcript—only if and when we’ve determined an inactive date for that certification. For affected certifications, you’ll start seeing inactive dates show up in June. (You can find more information on inactive dates here.)
Let’s take a moment to discuss the Inactive Date, because I’m sure that some of you are reading that phrase and thinking “that’s Microsoft-speak for decertification date.” It isn’t—in fact, even if all of your certifications go inactive, you’ll still have access to your MCP benefits, and your inactive certifications will still appear on your transcript. All that’s changing is that we’re signaling to you, your clients, and employers that these particular certifications have outlived their market relevance. Just to clarify what we mean by market relevance is that in most cases Microsoft isn't even supporting the technology through mainstream support. In other cases, it may be that the way that the technology was used (many years ago or with cloud it could even be a few months ago) when it was first released has changed, because we all know that technology is ever evolving and changing at such a rapid pace. This means the certification may have validated how to use the technology in a different way and since then we have not re-validated the skills necessary to use the technology in the market.
Changes to Certificates
We’re making three small changes to our certificates, two of which mirror the changes we’re making to the transcripts, specifically the certification number and inactive date. However, we’re also adding a new piece of information that’s on your transcript today but not on your certificate: your certification achievement date. In other words, your certificate will now display the date on which you earned your certification. See below for an example of what this will look like:
If you’ve already printed or ordered your certificates, that’s fine—there’s no need for you to print or order replacements. (You can if you want to, of course, but the standard shipping fees apply if you choose to order one.) Just like with the transcripts, you’ll see these new changes in April (with the exception of the Inactive Dates, which will begin populating in June).
So that’s the complete rundown of what’s changing… so what do you think? We’d love to read your feedback, so please share it below!
10:42am April 22 Update:
The server is stable now from what we see. You should be able to register, log in and use the site without any issue. (no 404 anymore). If there are hundreds of people hitting "submit" for registration at the exact same second, you may see a longer wait (as it calls the server for validation).
Our deepest apologies for having this issue when you are enthusiastic to participate. We are only 1/3 filled up now, so I think we would be able to accomodate all of you.
PS: If you are an MCP but receive a message "You are not authorized", please email your MCP ID to email@example.com.
We have been playing with this idea for a while... as there are many MCPs who are already talking with their friends and colleagues about certifications, answering questions in the community, etc, we want to create a program that allows the passionate MCPs (yes, you!) to earn rewards by encouraging others to earn Microsoft Certifications. And now, we are excited to announce that the MCP Learning Rewards program is open for registration at 8:00am PDT on April 21!
As an MCP, you can request Microsoft Certification exam vouchers (Second Shot vouchers till June 30) and distribute them to your friends, colleagues and contacts. When people redeem your vouchers, you receive points that you can accumulate and redeem for personal rewards, like a free certification exam voucher for your personal use, or a subscription to the E-Reference Library. In addition, you will find a variety of information to help you and your friends plan your career with Microsoft training and certification.
There is no cost to participate in the program, of course. We want to see how things go and what you think of it. So at this time the MCP Rewards program will be restricted to the first 10,000 MCPs who register. So... act fast when it opens for registration!
Here are some tips on how it works:
1. Register on the Learning Rewards program website using your MCP ID - you will see different choices from the drop down list when you click "Register", just select "MCP".
2. You will receive an email with your password - sometimes it may go to your junk folder - look out for that!
3. Explore the site - your Dashboard shows how many points you have, and contains your action items at one place
4. Request and send Second Shot vouchers! - your requested vouchers are stored in the "Voucher Bank"; you can also see instructions on request and send vouchers.
You can email the vouchers, or print and hand them to your friends. The vouchers are in PDF format. There are instruction on the voucher about how to register for the exam.
When a voucher is redeemed, you can see your points updated on your Dashboards (updated weekly).
5. And... customize a Certification Path with your name and email, so your friends know who to ask if they have questions since you are the expert!
It's pretty straightforward process. Just explore the website and play with it - let us know what you think! We have already put some thoughts on how to improve the experience, but if you have any ideas, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (on or after April 21).
This is an important moment in the history—and future—of Microsoft certifications. Candidates for Microsoft certifications -- and those who might employ them—are increasingly saying they need cloud services as part of the job descriptions. Today’s technical professionals need to understand a broader array of technologies in order to plan and design optimal solutions. It’s clear that our certification candidates must delve deeper in order to integrate public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise technologies effectively.
To accommodate these changes, we have reinvented Microsoft’s certification program. Our new certifications for IT professionals and developers are tiered in three levels—Associate, Expert, and Master. The flagship certification, and destination for most IT professionals, is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert or MCSE. It carries a familiar abbreviation, but has been “reinvented” to focus on the depth and breadth needed for cloud, on-premise, and hybrid solutions. Similarly, MCSD, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, is our new expert level developer certification.
I invite you to learn more about our new certifications via the links below.
Read more about the reinvented certification program in our MSL Newsroom at:
Keep up-to-date on the latest Microsoft Certification offerings at:
After reading through all the comments and feedback from my original post, we went back to the drawing board. We have decided to make some updates to what we originally posted based on your feedback.
BUT FIRST....we want to make sure we got it right. So, we want your feedback to confirm that we heard you correctly so we move forward in the correct way.
We agree that there was just too much complexity in the changes we were trying to communicate and so we have come up with some clear and concise definitions to start with:
OK, so now with that said, what we need your feedback on is the words we use and the way we display the above and we have 4 options to choose from as follows:
POLL HERE: http://polldaddy.com/poll/5083983/
Option 1 - Use word retired, but leave in Active Section
Option 2 - Use word Legacy, but remain in Active section
Option 3 - Put in Retired Section with Messaging
Option 4 - Put in Legacy section with messaging
OK, so let us know what is your favorite and we will review and make the final decision known to all of you.
Let us know before June 15th! Please vote your preference here: http://polldaddy.com/poll/5083983/
Thanks again for all your help and feedback. We are listening and look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great day!
Back in August, I posted an update on VBC saying it would launch mid to later September
So September passed. No VBCs. Now October has almost passed and you re wondering where VBCs are. Well. As you can tell, they re not here. I want to be as transparent as I can with this so I will answer all your questions.
First, I ve been silent on the issue all of October because I was working towards a firm date that I could promise VBCs would launch. I didn t want to do another "mid to late X" and it still not launch.
With that said, I can announce that VBCs will launch December 8. That s a promise you can expect us to keep and I m keeping my team on track for that date.
So what caused the delay? There are some points I really can t go into details but overall we encountered serious difficulities on the business side of this project that led to the delay. One issue was given the "new-ness" of this type of benefit, there were a lot of privacy concerns, especially when we re storing your private information and allowing others to view your cards publically. We had to systematically go through the program to ensure that your privacy will not be compromised.
There were other factors in this project that led to this delay. Suffice to say, however, that our partner doing the VBC development was not part of the reasons. They were very gracious and patient while we took care of the matters in-house.
On behalf of Microsoft Learning and my team, I personally want to apologize for the delays and the lack of information these few weeks. However, we ve now turned a corner and are on track for a December 8th launch. Moving forward, I will answer any questions either via email or if you post a comment and keep you all up to date with this project.
One note I would like to point out is that this is NOT a replacement for wallet cards. We will not allow these cards to be printed at the moment. VBCs are here to help you brand yourself on technical forums, emails, social networking sites, and any online property where your identify is your credibility. We want the world to know that, hey, you re an MCP/MCT and you know what you re talking about.
We recognize that not everyone needs this benefit and still need wallet cards for offline identification. We re looking at the possibility of orderable wallet cards, much like how certificates are now orderable. No promises at the moment, but this is something we re digging deep into.
When I get screenshots of the newer features we ve added since last time I ll let you know and post them. Thanks for your patience and we re working as hard as we can to ensure a successful and (now) smooth launch.
Marketing Manager - Online Evangelism
erwinc at microsoft.com
A few months ago we announced the Virtual Business Card project to be launched in August. It s now August and a lot of you are asking where it is. Well, it s not done and probably won t launch until mid-late September. Let me explain what s going on in the background and while it won t make up for the fact that it s delayed, I hope that at least you ll recognize that we re not leaving you high and dry. I will be as transparent as possible (that s just the way I do things), but there are a few things I m not legally allowed to discuss such as contract terms and monetary issues.
When we announced the project we had high standards and a very aggressive timeline. Our angency and partner, Hawkeye have been amazing collaborators through this project and have done some awesome work with the VBCs. When we saw the final work they delivered in late July, we realized that our timeline was too aggressive and there were many features left out of the build. As a result, we ve asked them to add a few features prior to a launch because we believed that it wouldn t be a good benefit to you if we launched it in its current shape. I m not saying that it s a poor product or experience right now - on the contrary it looks great and I think you ll like it. But we think we can do much better and we will.
Let me give you a sneak peak into what we have thus far. First, here s a screenshot of the opening page. As you can see, we ve really tried to make the look and feel very different from the "normal" MCP stuff you ve seen to date. (Click to enlarge)
Here you can see the card creator in action. You can select what certification will appear on the card itself and what certs will appear on your profile page. As you make changes, it ll update the card dynamically so you can see what it will look like. (Click to enlarge)
We ll have more screenshots later. I ll keep you updated to when we get closer to launch. Thanks for your patience.
Pass any virtualization exam and receive a complimentary TechNet Subscription*!
*NOTE: First 1,000 people only. Registration is required.
1. Register for this offer – http://www.prometric.com/microsoft/virtualization
a. Select an exam voucher or exam voucher pack (single exam or up to 3 exams)
i. Valid on virtualization exams only
b. Provide your details (name, address, email, etc.)
2. Use your voucher code to register for your first exam
3. Take and pass any virtualization exam between March 1 and June 30th – 70-652, 70-659, 70-669, or 70-693
4. Receive your TechNet subscription no later than July 15th
a. FIRST 1,000 ONLY
MORE INFORMATION ON THE BENEFITS OF VIRTUALIZATION: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9762765&ocid=eml-f-us-jtc-DPR-TECHNETPLUS
Q. What if I took and passed a virtualization exam X time ago (1 week, 1 day, etc), can I receive the complimentary TechNet offer?
A. Congratulations on passing your virtualization exam. The complimentary TechNet offer is only available for those that register through the website – http://www.prometric.com/microsoft/virtualization and take and pass an exam. We encourage you to take another virtualization exam and hopefully achieve your MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) certification.
Q. Who can take advantage of this offer?
A. Anyone qualifies for this offer worldwide. Only thing you need to do is register (http://www.prometric.com/microsoft/virtualization), then register for your virtualization exam, then take your exam and pass it between March 1 and June 30th. First 1,000 people only.
Q. What exams are covered in the offer?
A. 70-652, 70-659, 70-669 and 70-693.
Q. What if I already purchased an exam voucher pack? Can I use the vouchers I already purchased?
A. The vouchers for this campaign are unique and cannot be combined with other offers, but the vouchers are good until December 31, 2011, even though the TechNet offer is only available through June 30, 2011. Additionally, you are able to request a voucher that is only for 1 exam just for these needs.
Q. I registered and requested my voucher, but I still haven't received my email with my voucher number, when should I expect the voucher?
A. Many times emails can be blocked. Check your junk mail for the email or if you ordered your voucher March 1st or 2nd you may not receive your voucher until the end of the day on March 2nd. After March 2nd, you should receive your voucher within a couple hours.
I’d like to tell you a little story about a beta named 71-659: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization.
Using our SME profile database, we identified folks who expressed interest in a beta, who had work experience with virtualization, and who authorized us to send contact info to our vendors. These SMEs were sent a notification that included the beta code and details about when registration would open. This message explicitly states that it is not a guarantee of a seat in the beta.
A couple people who received notifications posted the beta code on their blogs. I guess it’s possible that these people didn’t consider that posting the beta code would be unfair to others who had submitted SME profiles. Going forward, folks who publicly post a beta code before it is available on Born to Learn may be removed from the SME database. Consider this fair warning.
Registration opened at 12 am Eastern Standard Time today. (For those of you who asked—registration always opens at 12 am Eastern time on the date in the notification.)
Given the level of interest in virtualization, we had more qualified SME profiles in the database than we have seats in the beta. Consequently, the seats filled up within a couple of hours from when registration opened. We currently have no plans to extend the limit.
The purpose of a beta exam is to collect data on the items. This data helps us ensure the quality and validity of the exam. In order to get the right data, we need candidates of different skill levels.
I know this is going to get some folks riled up, but I’m going to say it anyway. You are not entitled to a seat in a beta. You are not entitled to take a beta exam because you’re an expert. You are not entitled to take a beta exam because you’re an MCT. You are not entitled to take a beta exam because you are passionate about the technology.
If you are part of the target audience, you are simply eligible for the beta--along with everyone else who is part of the audience. You have no more right to a seat than anyone else who is eligible.
The terrible thing about betas is that there are always unhappy people. Everyone thinks they should get a seat before someone else. But seats are limited. Seats are first-come, first-served. The moral: there are no guarantees in the world of beta exams.
I wish the story had a happier ending complete with purple and pink flying pony unicorns. But it is what it is. We’re doing our best to ensure that those in the SME database receive beta registration information before sharing it on Born to Learn. Unfortunately, there will always be those who try to circumvent the system and make it difficult for the rest of you. We know it, and we will do what we can to fix it.
Despite a little bug just before launch (now resolved), we are excited to announce that the long awaited Virtual Business Cards (VBC) is now live and exclusively available to all Born to Learn readers and MCTs! Everyone who has an MCP or MCT profile can now create their own cards. However, we’re going to hold back notifying the general MCP population until January so you MCTs and loyal Born to Learn readers can have the first opportunity to use VBCs and be the first to use them.
You can access VBC either from the MCT site or by navigating to http://mcpvirtualbusinesscard.com (please use the Live ID that is associated with your MCT/MCT profile).
What are Virtual Business Cards? They are a tool that you can use to create, customize, and share your credentials online in a visually striking manner. We really want you to show off what you’ve accomplished and let everyone know that you know what you’re talking about. The VBC platform creates for you two elements. The first is the actual Virtual Business Card itself.
Each card will have an associated profile page.
This profile page can act as your resume online. You can select what certifications appear on this page and you have open space to enter whatever information you like, like your resume or recent accomplishments. You can even include a link to your official transcript. Since this page is hosted from a Microsoft-owned URL, this is your way to show that it’s official information.
How does it work? There is a step by step process of creating and customizing your card. All of your personal information is optional and you can enter whatever you like.
You can also choose which certifications appear on your card and on your profile page.
You can add your own ‘look and feel’ to your business card by choosing from over 100 avatars and 25 different templates.
Once you’ve created the card, it’s now time to share them. At the top of this page, you can actually make your URL more easier to link to by setting a username or keyword. After you set this, your profile page will be accessible via an easier link to remember.
From here you can also choose how to share your card. We’re looking into other ways to share so if you have any ideas, email us at email@example.com
One interesting feature we haven’t shown you yet is that you can see how many impressions your card and profile site have received. We are counting all of this information and we’ll show you how well you’re doing:
It’s pretty simple and straightforward. Dig into VBC and let us know what you think! We have some time to make some enhancements between the next release so if you have any ideas for how to make this even better, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDIT 4:58 PM PST - It seems there are a lot of problems with transcript loading. This is due to the fact that when you ask to use your transcript, we ping the MCP transcript tool for it to generate the PDF and we then store it on the VBC server (the transcript tool never had a storage feature). The PDF is quite large and I suspect that everyone s pinging that process to the point of failure. We re looking into it as we speak.
We’re pleased to announce our partnership with (HDI) Help Desk Institute to deliver MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician 7, in preparation for the availability of Windows 7.
MCITP:EST7 is designed to identify quality help desk support professionals with deep technical expertise (validated by Microsoft) and strong customer service skills (validated by HDI, an industry-recognized standards body that promotes best practices).
MCITP: EST7 is available to new candidates and candidates who are upgrading from MCITP:EST or MCDST.
MCPs who earn the credential will have full access to MCP benefits and resources. Want more info? Check out the complete certification path, requirements and benefits is available here.
Along with the MCITP: EDST7 certification, Microsoft will also be offering an MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 certification designed to validate your ability to deploy operating systems and desktop applications, and to manage the client lifecycle in the enterprise.
So, whether you’re working behind the scenes deploying desktop operating system and applications to the desktop, or on the front lines in the help center working with customers to solve problems, Microsoft has a certification to help you stand out from the crowd.
I have got some great stuff to share today! I was given the preview of what the experience site will be with the virtual business cards (VBC). I am liking it. Okay – I have been good at holding my opinion, whether is has been good, bad or just ehhhh, however, this time – I just have to share – I really like it! Here are a few of the examples I can show you.
The Experience site will be where you will build your custom VBC’s, be able to see stats on your card use, set up an area to showcase yourself, link with Facebook and LinkedIN, get to your MCP transcript and even highlight your resume if you wish. YOUR site will be about YOU.
Please note: These are examples and the dev work is still happening. This is one possible theme you could possibly pick. You are in control! I want to stress some things may not occur with phase II, but I am trying to get as much as possible in this summer’s launch. And I said it—launching summer!
So, feel free to give me your artistic and technical feedback on the the mock up’s for the experience site!
I’m an MCP & this is a really cool project.
Have you been trying to register for 83-640? Had some problems? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, we are experiencing some problems with the registration process for this exam and are working fast and furious to correct them. Here’s what we know:
· The problems are intermittent, meaning some people can register successfully while others cannot.
· The problems seem to be tied to peak registration periods, which vary from day to day, meaning that if you happen to try to register during one of these peak periods, you’re more likely to encounter problems.
· Tests indicate that if you’re scheduling an exam more than 3 months from now, you are less likely to encounter problems; you are more likely to encounter problems when scheduling exams 3 days to 3 months from now. Of course, as I said, the problems are intermittent and unpredictable, so no guarantees based on these results, but this may help from a planning perspective.
What should you do if you experience problems with registration?
If you are unable to schedule to take this exam, please contact Prometric customer service for the latest status and resolution of the issue. Beginning Monday, May 10, if the problem hasn’t been resolved, when you contact Prometric, they will ask for your name and email address and will contact you via email directly once the issue has been resolved.
Remember the problems are intermittent…If you can handle the possible frustration, you can also continue trying to register…you could be one of the lucky ones. I will post updates to Born to Learn as they become available. You can also contact email@example.com if you would like to be notified by me via email when the problem has been resolved.
Alas, the roll-out of any innovative exam delivery platform, such as this one, isn’t always unicorns and ponies. We will run into glitches along the way. Simply know that we are working as quickly as we can to correct them and to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved. We believe this is the next generation of certification testing and are fully committed to investing time and effort to create a performance based testing solution that allows our candidates to demonstrate what they know through a hands-on testing experience. Thanks for continuing to stay with us on this journey of delivering the first world-wide performance based IT certification exam.
This week all MCPs will receive access to the Virtual Business Cards (VBC) so if you're new to the VBC, welcome! This post will give you a walkthrough of what Virtual Business Cards are all about.
If you're familiar with VBCs, scroll down - we've added a few new enhancements you should be aware of.
Finally, if you're new to the blog - welcome! Take a look around the blog and the forums. We strive to give you news about the world of Microsoft certifications and uncensored behind the scenes look at what we do here at Microsoft Learning. When you're done, share your VBC in the forums!
First, what can VBCs do for you?
You can access VBC either from the MCP site or by navigating to http://mcpvirtualbusinesscard.com (please use the Live ID that is associated with your MCP profile).
Virtual Business Card update
Yes, it’s true: we’re raising our MCP exam prices for the first time in almost a decade. (Technically, I should probably say "changing" since not every country will see an increase, but for most of you, it's an increase.) The new prices go into effect on July 1st (August 1st in India).
(If you haven’t already, read the announcement and FAQ before going any further.)
Why? And Why Now?
This probably isn’t welcome news—especially if you’re already in progress towards your certification and you’ve planned your budget carefully. (If this includes you, keep reading to find out how to lock in our current pricing for a while longer.) After all, who would want to pay more for something than they had planned to?
No one enjoys paying higher prices, which is why no one really gets excited about having to ask their customers to do so, especially in our business, where our mission is to make successful careers in technology as attainable as possible. That’s why we’ve held the line on our pricing for more than nine years through two global recessions—a pretty tough feat (and yes, we’re kind of proud of that).
But eventually, a decade of both increasing costs catches up to any business, and like any responsible business, we have to re-balance the scales from time to time if we’re going to continue to improve, innovate, and respond to customer requests. For example, you might have noticed the investments we’ve made over the past year or two:
…and we have much more in the works that we’re looking forward to discussing with you over the next year or two. Like any business in Microsoft (and probably yours, too), our investments are constrained in part by our costs. Our new pricing structure will enable us to continue making investments in our training and certification business so that we can help you realize the high return you expect for your investment in yourself—which, after all, is exactly what a certification is, right?
Okay, so how much?
If you’ve made it this far and are wondering why I still haven’t told you what the new price will be, that’s because our prices have always and will continue to vary depending on where you take your exam and whether you are a member of specific programs or communities. See our official page to look up the base price for your country; if you’re a secondary school or university student, you’ll receive a 45% discount, and If you’re an MCT, you’ll receive a 50% discount (we’ve eliminated the confusing 20/45/65 discount structure and simplified it at an always-50% level).
Already in progress toward your certification? Here’s how to lock in current pricing a bit longer
Most of you take a pay-as-you-go approach with your exams, but since July, we’ve also been offering “certification packs” that offer you a volume discount when you pre-pay for at least two and up to five exams at a time. The discounts are pretty significant—up to 20% for the four- and five-packs, based on our current pricing levels—and we throw in Second Shot as well for an added benefit.
But now with our new pricing coming into play on July 1st, there’s a “hidden” benefit to these packs: if you purchase one of them and take your first exam by June 30th, you have until December 31, 2011 to take the remaining exams. You can look at that as a way of extending our current pricing (at a 15-20% discount) through the end of the year, or you can look at it as a way to get an even better discount today on what you would otherwise pay if you wait. Either way, it’s unquestionably the best option if you have exams to take in the near future and you want the best pricing.
We also have special offers available for students here, and IT people managers here.
(Insider tip: If you know an MCT, they can get you an additional 10% off the price of a certification pack though our Learning Rewards program.)
So now you know the what and the why—if you have additional questions or concerns let us know below or in our MCP Forum, and we’ll do our best to address them.
We know you have a lot of choices when it comes to IT certifications, and we appreciate that you’ve placed your bet on Microsoft. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to ensure that you continue to get a great return on your investment—that’s our commitment to you. We hope that you’ll continue to be a part of this community and keep sharing your feedback as we go. We're listening.
I often see or hear of requests on forums and social media sites asking for “answers to exam xxx” or “where are the best brain dumps?” A lot of these requestors just want an easy way to pass an exam without working for it and know full well what they’re doing. Some actually want training material or practice items, and don’t realize what they are asking for. And, some want brain dump material, but don’t realize why asking for it is a bad idea.
So what is a brain dump, and why do we care? A “brain dump” is a term commonly used for a site or material where real exam questions and answers are provided (in most cases, for a fee). The promise to a user is that by memorizing the answers, one can pass the exam. Brain dumps are not legitimate training or test prep resources for two reasons. First, no legitimate training or test prep site will have the actual test questions and answers, because no IT certification programs voluntarily release them. Therefore, a brain dump with actual test questions and answers has obtained them nefariously, and by purchasing them, the purchaser is abetting in fraudulent activity. Secondly, and most importantly, by memorizing answers a test-taker has not learned the material, has not demonstrated competence in the content domain, and has not earned the certification legitimately, thereby diluting the hard work that the truly qualified have put forth to pass the exam.
How does one recognize brain dump material? Like I said, no legitimate training or test prep site will have the actual answers from a test. Look for promises like:
The words “brain dump” are another sure way to know that the site isn’t on the up and up. The key is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
The best way to prepare for an exam is to find the right training: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/training.aspx
Use of brain dump material is a violation of our exam policy and can result in the loss of one's certification and a lifetime ban from Microsoft’s Certification Program. I won’t tell you how we know when someone has used a brain dump to pass an exam, but we know. While we work hard to prevent brain dumps from obtaining our material in the first place, and then removing it when it appears, we also put the responsibility on test-takers to act responsibly and with integrity. It’s important to everyone that those certification initials after one’s name were earned honestly.
Bottom line on using brain dump material? Don’t do it. It’s just not worth it.
Have a security concern you want to report to MSL? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Microsoft technologies are evolving more quickly than ever. In order to maintain the value of your certifications, we need to ensure that Microsoft Certifications keep pace with changing technologies and remain a meaningful indicator of a candidate’s continued competence.Recertification provides assurance to hiring managers and other key stakeholders that the candidate who holds the certification has demonstrated continued competence even as the technology has changed based on service packs, revisions, and new product version releases. Recertification also provides candidates the opportunity to update an advanced-level certification to encompass the skills they have gained on a newer version, without having to complete the full certification path again.We are conducting a survey to gather customer and hiring manager feedback about recertification requirements for advanced level (i.e., MCITP and MCPD) Microsoft Certifications. Your responses will help us determine how often a candidate should be required to recertify, which activities hiring managers would consider appropriate proof of continued competence, and which activities candidates would prefer to engage in to demonstrate continued competence. One possible recertification requirement would be passing an exam--but it doesn't necessarily have to be an exam. We'd like to hear your opinions on other possible activities.
We hope that you’ll take the time to participate in this short—but important—survey. Please complete and submit your responses by August 8th.
Follow this link to complete the survey: http://microsoftlearning.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8GizxTjKyuQ3tHu
Thanks in advance for your participation!
MSL will be offering a MCITP: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician certification. The requirements are not yet finalized. We expect to have final requirements shortly. Candidates wishing to pursue this certification can safely proceed to prepare for 680: Win 7, Configuring and 685: Win 7, EDST. Additional requirements will be announced by the end of December 2009. Upgrade requirements have not been determined yet and will be announced at the same time.
If you have any questions, post a comment and we’ll have our certification product managers answer them.
Some of you may remember the Beta Drama, Red Telephones, and Silver Linings post from a few months ago. We did follow up with Prometric about whether they could move the registration start time from midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST) to sometime when Prometric offices are open. Unfortunately they could not move the time because it would have affected all their other testing customers as well. Sadly, I didn’t get my red telephone either.
However, for the soon-to-open Exam 71-669 beta, we’re going to try something slightly different. I hope that this solution will have the same benefit as the red telephone. We’re going to wait to send out the notifications containing the beta code until 9 am EST on registration day.
Instead of getting the beta code a couple days ahead, you’ll receive it at 9 am the day of registration. You’ll get a notice a few days ahead telling you which day to expect it—just without the code in it.
What time is this in my region?
If you are interested in taking 71-669 TS: Windows Server® 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization, be sure to submit or update your SME profile by end of day Friday. Instead of midnight EST, you should be ready to register at 9 am Eastern Standard Time on March 1st. If your SME profile indicates that you have work experience with virtualization, you’ll receive a notification containing the beta code at the e-mail address indicated in your Microsoft Connect profile. If there are still seats left on March 3rd, we’ll post the beta code here on Born to Learn.
If you have an opinion about this change, put it in the comments here or send it straight to us at email@example.com. The idea is to make the process better, so if this isn’t an improvement, we’ll go back to what we were doing before. (And by the way, it’s not too late to wish me Happy Valentine’s Day.)
My thanks to all that provided feedback on this thread. Based on concerns you raised about maintenance of multiple MCSD and/or MSCE certifications, we have been able to make a change to the recertification deadline to ensure that all individuals will have a minimum of 12 months to prepare for and pass the associated recertification exams. Below is the updated text, with an FAQ to address the additional points raised in the thread.
Microsoft Learning has completed its review of recertification options, and will be releasing recertification exams over the next several months.
Between Aug 2014 and Mar 2015, recertification exams will be released for all MCSE and MCSD specialties, starting with MCSD recertification exams in the Aug-Sep 2014 timeframe.
Recertification exams will cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent product and process changes. Exam details will be available from the Certification Planner tool at least one month prior to release.
Recertification deadlines for all MCSE and MCSD credential holders will be examined and adjusted, if needed, to ensure that these individuals have at least twelve (12) months to prepare and pass the recertification exam. Please note that, if you do not recertify by the recertification deadline, your certification will become ‘Inactive’.
Q: Is this certification update announcing any changes to recertification policy?
A: No, MCSE and MCSD certifications have always had a recertification requirement to maintain the credentials, since their launch in Spring 2012. The recertification period for MCSE is every 3 years, while the recertification period for MCSD is every 2 years. The open issue that has now been resolved is the timing for the release of the associated recertification exams.
Q: What certifications have a recertification requirement?
A: Only current Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credentials have a recertification requirement. No other certifications - including, but not limited to, MTA, MCITP, and MCSA - require recertification.
Q: I've already received "Microsoft Recertification Due Soon" email notifications. How does the release of the recertification exams impact my status?
A: The recertification deadlines for each of your MCSE and MCSD credentials will be adjusted to ensure that you have at least 12 months to take and pass the associated recertification exam.
Q: When I take and pass a recertification exam, what will be my new recertification deadline?
A: For MCSD certifications, your new deadline will be 2 years from the date you pass the recertification exam. For MCSE certifications, your new deadline will be 3 years from the date you pass the recertification exam.
Q: What will happen to my certification if I do not take the associated recertification exam by the deadline?
A: If you do not take the recertification exam by the deadline, your certification will remain on your transcript in the "Inactive" state.
Q: What actions can I take once my certification is in the "Inactive" state?
A: You should evaluate available certification paths at that time. If a certification path with component exams different in exam number from those with which you originally earned the credential is available, you may pursue that path. Per Microsoft Learning's Exam Retake Policy, if a candidate achieves a passing score on an exam, the candidate cannot take the exam again.
Exam 70-669 is now available in Prometric testing centers. This is a Technical Specialist exam designed to assess candidates’ hands-on skills in Windows Server 2008 R2 desktop virtualization.
Candidates for this exam should have more than one and a half years of experience as virtualization administrators working with desktop virtualization technologies such as Windows Virtual PC, MED-V, Windows XP Mode for Windows 7, App-V, Remote Desktop Services, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Windows Server 2008 R2 environments, and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. Additionally, candidates have experience with server virtualization products and technologies, including Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, Windows PowerShell 2.0, and System Center Configuration Manager.
This exam covers the following topics:
For a more detailed list of the skills measured on this exam, check out the prep guide. To schedule your exam, visit Prometric’s Web site.
Okay, I think we’re starting to cover some repetitive ground, so let me see if I can sum up the issues and questions so that we can get to—well if not closure, than at least a caesura.
I think the last few comments have underlying themes to them—at least one of the following is true for most of them:
1) I don’t believe you are truly concerned about the environment and I therefore do not believe your explanations
2) I believe you are concerned about the environment but mistaken about your environmental impact
3) I don’t believe the digital certificates and cards will be respected by hiring managers
So let me address each of these in turn:
1) If you don’t believe me when I say that we are genuinely concerned with improving our environmental impact, then we have a trust issue, and frankly, there’s not much point in pursuing the conversation further. It’s very difficult to prove motive and intent, particularly in a medium devoid of direct interpersonal contact, so I’ll simply say: I hope and trust that over time we will convince you otherwise.
2) If you believe that our paper/plastic solution was more environmentally friendly than our digital solution, I’d love to know—truthfully—how to verify that. Perhaps our operations team has already done this, I don’t know (I’ll ask)—but I do trust them at their word that this is a much cleaner solution. I understand that many of you want proof in the form of hard numbers, but the absence of proof doesn’t mean a statement still isn’t true. :-)
3) About the digital wallet cards--let’s be brutally honest, shall we:
Anything on paper is forgeable. There are any number of Internet sites out there that will produce authentic-looking certificates and wallet cards for you for a fee, without requiring you to prove your certification. If you’re going to argue that paper certificates and plastic cards are somehow more authentic than digital ones—or that they are more difficult to forge—you won’t find me to be a receptive audience, sorry.
Let me go even one step further: I don’t think the digital certificates are any better than the paper ones as far as authenticity goes. I personally have never and would never use my certificates to prove my certifications to a client or employer (I sure am proud of them, though—I have all my certificates going back to 70-001).
Today there is one and only one way to truly prove your certifications to an employer: the transcript sharing tool. The problem with this tool, however, is that it’s fairly obscure and requires you to share an ID and password (which is perfectly safe but feels wrong nonetheless).
In less than two months, however, you’ll be able to use your digital wallet cards in place of the transcript sharing tool. That’s really what the ID digital cards are all about: a nice-looking, easy-to-use-and-understand transparent gateway to the transcript sharing tool. You won’t need to share a user ID and password anymore—employers and clients can simply click on the card to verify your credentials. They’re not forgeable—I’m sure people will try, but they won’t link to our certification database to validate the credentials (they’d be a flat jpg instead).
We will aggressively promote the use of these cards as the best way to verify an MCP’s credentials—both to MCPs and to hiring managers—and I fully expect that they will be the most value-reinforcing benefit in the MCP program.
As for the look and feel of the cards, the examples you’ve seen here feature artwork and avatars—but you can simply use your own photo in place of the artwork if you prefer, and the card should then look considerably more professional than what you use today. As for the certificates—they should look exactly the same.
I realize that many of you are skeptical, and that’s okay—in fact, we’d love to include some of you in our testing and piloting over the next couple of months (let us know if you’re interested). But I’d like to propose that you wait until you see and use the product before you bash it. :-)
Thanks for the feedback—we’re reading each and every comment!
Register for SQL Server 2012 beta exams
Registration is now open for SQL Server 2012 beta exams. You are invited to take this beta exam at no charge. If you pass the beta exam, the exam credit will be added to your transcript and you will not need to take the exam in its released form. The 71-xxx identifier is used for registering for beta versions of Microsoft Certification Program exams. When the exam is released in its final form the 70-xxx identifier is used for registration.
By participating in beta exams, you have the opportunity to provide the Microsoft Certification Program with feedback about exam content, which is integral to development of exams in their released version. We depend on the contributions of experienced IT professionals and developers as we continually improve exam content and maintain the value of Microsoft certifications. The following exams are a part of this beta offering. Beta exam period runs: March 23, 2012– April 13, 2012, with specific exam delivery dates and voucher codes as follows:
Beta delivery dates
Exam 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
Exam 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
Exam 70-463: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
Exam 70-464: Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
Exam 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server 2012
Exam 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
Exam 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
For information about the certification paths, visit the SQL Server certification page. To find exam preparation information, follow the link on the exam numbers above.
Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the beta. We recommend that you register immediately. Beta exams have limited availability and are operated under a first-come-first-served basis. In some cases, the number of eligible individuals notified exceeds the number of available beta slots. Please note that your local testing center may become fully booked, even though there may still be seats available for a specific exam. Try scheduling at a different testing center or a different time. Once all beta slots are filled, no additional seats will be offered. We will post a notice on the Born to Learn blog when the beta slots are filled. If you register, please ensure you are committed to attend.
Testing is held at Prometric testing centers worldwide, although this exam may not be available in all countries (see Regional Restrictions). All testing centers will have the capability to offer this exam in its live version.
Regional Restrictions: China , India, Pakistan, Turkey
You must register at least 24 hours prior to taking the exam. Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the beta. We recommend that you register immediately. If you have difficulty registering online, try calling Prometric instead.
To register in North America, please call:
Prometric: (800) 755-EXAM (800-755-3926)
Outside the U.S./Canada, please contact:
You will be given four hours to complete the beta exam. Please plan accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about beta exams here:
For Microsoft Certification Program (MCP) help and information, you may log in to the MCP Web site at http://mcp.microsoft.com/ or contact your Regional Service Center: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/help/assisted-support.aspx.
For updates and information about exams, visit the Born to Learn blog at: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/.
If you have questions or comments about the Microsoft Learning Subject Matter Experts program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very EXCITED to announce that we will beginning this month, subject matter experts (SMEs) who act as lead item writer or participate in alpha review or item selection/standard setting meetings will receive credit for the exam, meaning they will no longer be required to take the exam!! Can I hear a "WOOT!" from everyone!!!
Some important notes on eligibility for this awesome benefit:
Here's what I think are likely to be the most frequently asked questions... Let me know what other questions you have. In the meantime, add yourself to the SME database to increase the probability that you will be asked to participate in one of these exam development sessions!
Q: Who is eligible for exam credit through this process?
A: Currently, only the lead item writer, alpha SMEs, and item selection/standard setting SMEs are eligible. We are exploring other opportunities that might qualify, but only those SMEs who have seen all or most of the items on the exam are eligible because they have distinct advantage over other candidates.
Q: Does this apply all Microsoft certification programs?
A: Yes. SMEs who act as the lead item writer and/or participate in alpha or item selection/standard setting process for MTA, MBS, MOS, and MCSA/E/D exams are eligible.
Q: What must I do to earn this credit?
A: You must have a MCID and participate as the lead item writer and/or participate in alpha or item selection/standard setting process for new exam content development, what Microsoft considers v100. This benefit does not apply to the development of recertification or upgrade exams. If you are removed from an eligible exam development activity or leave prior to completing it, you will not be eligible for this benefit.
Q: Does this apply to new content that is developed to sustain an exam?
A: No. This only applies to the development of new exams because we expect that our content development vendors will hire certified SMEs to assist with the development of content associated with the sustainment of an exam.
Q: How will this be reflected on my transcript?
A: Exactly as all other exams that you have taken and passed appear on your transcript. Note that exams earned in this way will ONLY appear on your Microsoft transcript. They will NOT appear on the exam delivery provider’s transcript.
Q: When will this appear on my transcript?
A: Microsoft certification management database will be updated monthly to reflect this credit. The request will be submitted on the first business day of the month and will appear within 5 business days on your transcript.
Q: What should I do if I believe I should have received credit for an exam, but it doesn’t appear on my transcript?
A: Contact your regional service center.
Q: What date will be associated with this exam on my transcript?
A: The date that the credit is awarded. For some exams, this may be the date that drives your recertification requirement, so pay particular attention to this date if you want to maintain any associated certifications.
Q: Will I earn the associated certification if this is the last exam that I must pass to meet the certification requirements?
A: Yes as long as you have met all the certification requirements, the credit earned through this process applies as if you actually took and passed the exam.