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MS Certs as We Know Them Today Are Heading for Major Shake-Up

If you read my blogs regularly, you already know that Microsoft has reinvented and reimagined the old MCSE, MSCA, and even MCSD credentials. Recent news that Windows 8 Server is on the same release schedule as the desktop version, coupled with these new credentials, argues strongly that the MS Cert World is about to go through a major set of changes.

In Mary-Jo Foley's "All About Microsoft" blog for ZDnet, she reports on April 24, 2012, that "the release candidate of Server also is due in early June 2012" and puts the Server platform more or less on the same release schedule and timeline as the desktop version of Windows 8. If -- and I stress that this is still an "if" -- that means a whole new crop of desktop and server certification exams (and credentials) should make their debut before the end of 2012, given a commercial (general availabilty, or GA, in Microsoft-speak) release in late October 2012.

When you also throw in new releases of SQL Server and System Center for 2012, and another pending release of Visual Studio (a beta release of Visual Studio 11 is already available) you have a more-or-less-complete turnover of the Microsoft platform and technology base at hand. That means new technician and administrator level credentials for Windows 8 desktop and Server, where major platforms on the development and services side (SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange, and Lync) are either already changing or will be bound to follow suit within the next year or so.

We already know that the MCTS, MCITP, and MCPD credentials are essentially frozen and won't be updated further, with the new credentials scheduled to pick up and run with new curriculum elements in the future. I think this means we're going to see a major increase in the number and kind of MCSE, MCSA, and MCSD credentials available to would-be cert holders in the next 6-12 months, and that the structure and layout of the entire Microsoft certification landscape is about to change radically and thoroughly.

This should be very interesting, and will no doubt offer lots of tantalizing prospects to IT professionals -- that is, once uptake of these new platforms and technologies takes hold. If history is any guide, that will take 2-3 years from the time Windows 8 desktop and Server make their debut. Even so, it's time to start paying attention, and it will soon be time to start planning your next certification campaign.

In fact, there's also a new MCSM (Microsoft Certified Solutions Master) credential in the offing, too (a kind of next-step credential moving up from the MCSE, on a par with the current Microsoft Certified Master, or MCM, credential). My suspicion is that we'll also be finding out a lot more about what this credential is and really represents when Windows 8 makes its debut as well.