Microsoft Streamlines Technical Certifications

Larry Kaye

Oct 6, 2016 Update: My thanks to all MCPs who have provided early and thorough feedback on the new streamlined certification paths.  For your convenience, I have compiled a list of popular blog post questions and answers.  Let's continue our discussion on my latest blog post:

https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/b/weblog/posts/top-12-questions-about-the-new-streamlined-certification-paths

 

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As Microsoft Learning's General Manager Alison Cunard announced earlier today, Microsoft is streamlining its technical certifications, aligning to industry-recognized areas of competence while providing flexibility to showcase your specific skills on Microsoft products and services.

Today, five new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Developer (MCSD) specialties are being released.  These credentials are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers.

The five new expert certifications are:

  • MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure - focusing on skills validation for Windows Server and Microsoft Azure
  • MCSE: Mobility - focusing on skills validation for Windows Client and Enterprise Mobility Suite
  • MCSE: Data Management and Analysis - focusing on skills validation for both on-premises and cloud-based Microsoft data products and services
  • MCSE: Productivity - focusing on skills validation for Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, and Skype for Business
  • MCSD: App Builder - focusing on skills validation for Web and Mobile app development

 

To earn each of these credentials, you must first earn a qualifying Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification and, then, pass a single additional exam from a list of electives associated with the corresponding Center of Excellence.   

 

The resulting MCSE or MCSD certification will be added to your transcript and will never expire.  Instead, the achievement date will signify your investment in continuing education on the technology.  Every year, you will have the opportunity to re-earn the certification by passing an additional exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence.  Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry will be added to your transcript.  This process will replace the existing recertification requirement  of taking a specific recertification exam every 2 years (MCSD) or 3 years (MCSE) in order to prevent your certification from going inactive.

 

Details on the exams required to earn each of the new MCSE and MCSD certifications can be found on the corresponding web pages and will be subjects of a series of additional BornToLearn blog posts over the next few months.  You will find that many currently available MCP exams will map to one or more new expert-level certifications.

 

These certification changes apply only to MCSE and MCSD certifications.  You will continue to earn and upgrade MCSA certifications as you do currently. 

 

 

Transitioning to the New MCSE/MCSD Certifications

 

On the evening of 26-September, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications will be released and your MCP transcripts will be reevaluated.  To recognize your efforts in keeping your existing certifications up-to-date, those individuals who currently hold active MCSE or MCSD certifications from the following list will earn the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD certifications for 2016 without having to take any additional exams. 

  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Private Cloud
  • MCSE: Data Platform
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence
  • MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
  • MCSE: SharePoint
  • MCSE: Communication
  • MCSE: Messaging
  • MCSD: Universal Windows Platform
  • MCSD: Web Applications
  • MCSD: SharePoint Applications

In addition, all individuals who have passed a qualifying elective exam since January 1, 2016 will be granted the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD certifications for 2016 without the need to take additional exams, if they have met all exam requirements.

 

From now through Dec 31, 2016, Individuals with inactive MCSE or MCSD certifications have the choice of taking a recertification exam or a new exam from the list of electives associated with the corresponding Center of Excellence to earn the new certification.

 

As the final part of the transition process, all existing MCSE and MCSD certifications (listed below) will be retired on March 31, 2017:

  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Private Cloud
  • MCSE: Data Platform
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence
  • MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
  • MCSE: SharePoint
  • MCSE: Communication
  • MCSE: Messaging
  • MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management
  • MCSD: Universal Windows Platform
  • MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect
  • MCSD: Web Applications
  • MCSD: SharePoint Applications

After that date, these certifications will no longer be attainable but, if already earned, will remain on your transcript in either Active or Inactive state until retirement of the corresponding technologies, at which point the certifications will be moved to the Legacy section of your transcript.

Comments
  • Deyan Kochev
    | |

    Hello Larry,

    I am a little bit confused. I saw that my transcript was re-evaluated with Cloud platform and Infrastructure. At the same time my expiration date for MCSE Server Infrastructure stays the same. I was about to take the re-certification exam next week but now, even if I take it, it will expire on 31.03.2017. At the same time if I allow it to become inactive, I will have only two months to prepare and achieve the new MCSE, which is NOT OK. My other MCSE Desktop Infrastructure was also retired, less then one year after I earned it. You should know, that we, as IT professionals, have also day-to-day work and tasks. So I am curious, how do you imagine we prepare in time to take those exams? Should we abandon our customers and projects to re-certify in time?

  • Mark Grogan
    | |

    Is there a more detailed list of the elective exams required?

    The website isn't up to date, yet the new certs are now on my profile.

    i.e MCSE: Productivity, keen to see what the electives after MCSA Office 365 are.

    (Never mind. Apparently the Australian site isn't updated yet. Changing to en-us gives the required information)

  • Wayne McGlinn (Regional Lead - Australia)

    Great post Larry, I used your information here: bnemct.murrumba.net/.../ :)

  • cdweb
    | |

    Hi Larry.  I'm inclined to agree with Delaney.  While I'm not necessarily in the same proverbial boat as him on timing of my own renewal dates, I am curious about the reasoning and timing.  The MCP program has been dramatically changed 3 times in the past 8 years.  This amount of change over a short time really causes a great loss of faith that Microsoft is focused on technical education and a belief that there is a greater focus on monetizing an IT Pro's efforts to better themselves through attain IT certifications.  The change made when aligning the certification tracks with the 2012/2013 product releases made a great deal of sense in aligning with the dfined tracks, but these newly announced changes create more of a watered down, senior level credential that is more confusing than the exiting MCSE tracks for non-IT hiring managers.  Yes, there are a lot of IT pros crossing specialties, but many of us have also put a lot of time and effort into achieving specialized certifications that very clearly define what specialties that a heavily experienced engineer or developer is really good at.  I really feel like these new tracks water down the MCSE credential and blur the lines as to what a MCSE or MCSD's specialties are.  

    While I do applaud the continuing education renewal options that exist or should have been developed (Server Infrastructure anyone???) but I feel that by removing the re-cert requirement and adding an annual requirement to certify on exams that may not be within scope of a candidate's role or specialty(ies), Microsoft is creating more opportunity for a credential to lapse or go inactive.  

    I look forward to more discussion on this, but I simply do not agree with these new tracks.  It really seems to water down a high level,  vendor specific certification and will adversely effect those of holding a current MCSE.

    At the very least, there should have been some more public discussion or roadmap conversations on what Microsoft is planning for certification tracks instead of just monetizing the certification program.  

    Thank for reading.

    Chance

  • Panagiotis Pataridis
    | |

    OK, so the exam one is supposed to take can be the same? If you are an MCSE can you retake last years exam to renew?

  • GarethT
    | |

    For MCSE: Productivity, is it correct that I can't use my MCSA 2012 for part A? I've just signed up for Exchange training (expense, let's be honest!) and part of my business case was that I could bring an MCSE to the business, as the MCSE: Messaging DID allow MCSA: 2012.

    It would be frustrating to learn that id have to complete the Office 365 MCSA also because of the shifting goalposts!

  • GarethT
    | |

    I guess that raises another question - if I gain my MCSE: Messaging before 31 March 2017 will it get upgraded to MCSE: Productivity or have I missed that chance? Pretty frustrating for all this to happen with no notice.

  • Zdenek Drlik
    | |

    Hello Larry,

    I have inactive MCSD: Web Application (inactive date 10/31/2015). I'd like to ask you a question to clarify the following:

    "Individuals with inactive MCSE or MCSD certifications have the choice of taking a recertification exam or a new exam from the list of electives associated with the corresponding Center of Excellence to earn the new certification."

    Do I uderstand it correctly that if I pass any new exam from the list of electives, I will earn new MCSD: App Builder?

    Thanks for the information.

  • Packetboy
    | |

    Hi,

        I agree with cdweb... This seems to water down the MCSE... I think the recert idea was better because it showed you wanted to keep the cred... Now we have this very vague choice of either keep it upgraded yearly by doing a random elective we might not even work with but only if you want to because it doesn't matter anyway because they don't lapse anymore...

    Also what about if I did my exams in Server 2012 then I put the time and effort to upgrade to Server 2016.. Where will that be reflected to an employer? He would have to look at my individual exams?  Up until this point its been very clear what version of windows server an MCSE has mapped to...  MCSE NT 4, 2000, 2003 then we had MCITP was clearly for 2008 then we went back to MCSE for 2012...  But now MCSE 2016 wont even be recognisable?? (unless we look through individual exams which I guarantee not many hiring managers even get that far.. )

    So I would like to know if all current MCSE 2012 are now new MCSE cloud platform and infra what is the incentive to do our server 2016 upgrade exams???

    Not good MS....

  • Mark Grogan
    | |

    The other thing seems to be that it hasn't entirely updated yet?

    I.e I held the MCSE: Server Infrastructure which has reflected as a change as MCSE: Productivity.

    Easy.

    I also have a MCSA in Office 365 and have also passed 70-341 and 70-336 which count as electives (only 1 required) for the MCSE Productivity - however it has not yet shown up - so is there a delay in any of this?

    As for more constructive comments around this, I agree with some of the others in that shifting the goal posts is getting so tiresome.

    We see that CCNA is just reaching version 3 now. It's been CCNA for ever, people know what it is.

    MCSE and MCSA came back, acronyms which were well know and very generalised to a nice specialised track - dedicated for Messaging, Comms - it was fantastic.

    Now we have a couple of really generic names - I mean MCSE Productivity means???? To a hiring manager. It looks awesome if you have a Solution Architect role though, speaking up to clients that your a Solution Expert in Productivity sounds great.

    The changing all the time is frustrating. Add more if you need to, but leave the nuts an bolts.

  • System_32
    | |

    I cannot see how an employer or HR employee would want to hire someone with the new certifications instead of an MCSE with the older certifications. HR staff are not going to research the MCSE requirements for a Skype or Exchange professional.  Unless there is a way that the certification will specify MCSE: Productivity with emphasis on Skype or Exchange. After a hiring manager goes the process of hiring the wrong MCSE for the job, this could seriously reduce the quality of the MCSE program. From the Microsoft professional's point of view, I can not imagine getting the MCSE and learning a new technology and still having the certificate not reflect any growth other than a new calendar year. The previous layout of the exams made sense. The current changes made to the program seems to place emphasis on financial side rather than the learning and growth associated with certification. There has been price increases, constant changes and now annual re-certification.

  • sivey42
    | |

    Larry,

    I have an MCSD cert that is misreported as inactive, even though I did pass the recert exam. Who can I contact to get this corrected, and to also get the new replacement MCSD cert added as well?

  • Tuan Truong
    | |

    Could you get MCP Profile updated with the new certificates

  • Ahmed Nasrat
    | |

    Dear Lary ;

    I think i will be little bit different than others here. i agree with some points and argue other points from my point of view.

    1- I totally agree about the MCSE tracks and all exams and subjects included in each track for everyone who wants really to be specialized in the same scope . i was asking myself before why Microsoft did not do that till now. However, i can not understand MCSA: Cloud platform which contains some of MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure electives!!! (related to point 2)

    2- I think the main problem here is the names of few tracks or specializations which really make everyone frustrating or confusing. also all non-IT hiring managers, HRs, Sales, operations will be really confusing with new MCSE tracks.

    For Example:  MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, it would be better if its name for example is: "MCSE: Data center and infrastructure management"

    because Cloud is a general word, it means a lot.

    Thanks...

  • Guido van Brakel
    | |

    @Larry What happens if someone has done all the electives for for example MCSE Cloud Platform & Infrastructure in one year?

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