Around 2005-2006, when I was running the Montreal IT Professionals Community, Microsoft announced that due to a lawsuit from the Quebec Order of Engineers, Microsoft would be eliminating the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) designation in the province of Quebec. As a community leader I rallied against that; my position was that it would create unfair competitive disadvantages to our IT Pros who would not be able to compete with outsiders who did have the credential. My position was (and remains) that if Microsoft and Microsoft Learning are going to award credentials, they had to be a uniform set of credentials around the world. Two professionals with the same skillset who have passed the same exams should have the same titles, whether they live in Montreal, Los Angeles, or Uganda. The New Big Blue reexamined their position, and shortly after making that decision they announced that they would indeed eliminate the MCSE program around the globe. Thus, with the release of Windows Vista and then Windows Server 2008 (along with the SQL and other technologies at the time), Microsoft Learning introduced the Microsoft Certified IT Professionals (MCITP) certifications for job-based certifications… along with the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credentials for task-based certifications.
It essentially took one generation of technology for Microsoft to revert to the old acronyms… from Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012 onward, MCSA now stood for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, and MCSE stood for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. Why nobody at Microsoft Learning a few years earlier thought to replace the word Engineer (the offending word in the MCSE title) with another word that began with E still escapes me, but there it was. MCSE was back.
This morning, Microsoft Learning announced that once again, the MCSE (and MCSA) credentials are going away… and for those of us who have pursued any of the new, ‘modern’ certifications, it was easy to see that this was just a matter of time (see article). According to this blog post published today by Alex Payne, GM, Global Technical Learning at Microsoft Worldwide Learning, “…all remaining exams associated with Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) will retire on June 30, 2020.”
The blog goes on to say that only the exams are retiring, and that the credentials themselves will remain active for two years after that; this means that on July 1, 2020 all MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) credentials on your Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) Transcript will be moved to the “Inactive” section.
I earned my first MCSA credential on May 27, 2005, and have held various MCSA and MCSE credentials for nearly fifteen years. When they were taken away the first time I was upset. Today, while I am also upset, I guess I understand. Microsoft Learning is evolving, and their credentials are too.
With that said, universities have done a great job of evolving over the last few hundred years, and yet they still offer Baccalaureate programs, as well as Masters, PhDs, and Doctorates. Are these the same today as they were a hundred years ago? Of course not. They have been able to keep the title while evolving the skills required to achieve it.
Of course, Microsoft Learning is not a university, and a certification is not a degree. However, for those of us in the trenches… as well as for those myriad customers who often rely on a set of credentials to know what skill set they need to hire, it might behoove MSL to once and for all standardize their nomenclature, rather than ‘evolving’ every few years. If they did that though, what would I have written about today?