Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Microsoft Certifications for 2008

As you may know, Microsoft has revamped its certifications this year. These changes bring up a lot of questions about past and present certifications, so I'm writing this to hopefully clear up some confusion.

First, the MCP, MCSA, and MCSE certifications are not being continued with the 2008 product line. However, these certifications are not being removed -- if you're an MCSE on 2000/2003, you're still an MCSE. The MCSE 2003 exams will not be retired until mainstream support for Windows 2003 ends. Considering most of the work I’ll do over the next couple of years will involve 2003 servers and migrations, it's still very relevant that to have an MCSE 2003 certification in addition to the new 2008 certifications.

The new certifications favor specialization -- depth, not breadth. These are the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certs. In the past, if you passed any Microsoft exam you became a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). Microsoft heard from hiring managers that they couldn't tell if an MCP had the skills they were looking for, so they decided to create certifications based on specific abilities and technologies. For example, you can become an MCTS: Windows Vista Configuration or MCTS: Managing Projects with Microsoft Office Project 2007.

The MCSA/MCSE certifications are being replaced with the Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) certs. These are based more on job role than specialized in a particular technology (although you need to have MCTS certifications to get your MCITP). MCSA maps to the new MCITP: Server Administrator and MCSE maps to the new MCITP: Enterprise Administrator. There are also some specialty MCITPs, such as MCITP: Messaging Administrator, Database Administrator, Database Developer, etc. If you're interested in upgrading your MCSE to the new 2008 certifications, the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator is the premier certification you should work toward.

The following exams are required to earn an MCITP: Enterprise Administrator:

  • 70-640: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring

  • 70-642: TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring

  • 70-643: TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications, Configuring

  • 70-620: TS: Windows Vista, Configuring -or- 70-624: TS: Deploying and Maintaining Windows Vista Client and 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops

  • 70-647: PRO: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
If you have a current MCSE 2003 certification you're eligible to take an upgrade exam, 70-649: TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist. This single exam takes the place of 70-640, 70-642 and 70-643. Then, to get your MCITP certification you must take 70-620 or 70-624, and the 70-647 PRO: Enterprise Administrator exams.

If you’re still working toward your MCSE 2003 from MCSE 2000, be aware that the MCSE 2003 upgrade exams, 70-292 and 70-296, are being retired on March 31, 2008.

Note: The 70-647: PRO: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator exam has not been released yet. It's still in beta through the end of January and will hopefully be released around March 2008. I'm taking the beta exam today, but won't know if I passed for up to 12 weeks(!)

Other notes about the exams and certifications:

  • All exams are administered by Prometric. It's pretty easy to schedule, reschedule or cancel an exam from their website.

  • You will know the results immediately after taking the exam. Passing score is 700 out of 1000.

  • Exams are between 55-65 questions and you are given about 2.5 hours, depending on the exam

  • Most questions are multiple choice or pick the two correct answers. Usually there's a couple of drag and drop or click the right area questions.

  • The MCSE certification is no longer being used in future certifications. The term "Engineer" is a protected term used by several nations and states. Microsoft was sued in 12 countries and admonished in several states for use of this designation.

  • MCSE certifications are not being retired and will remain on your transcript indefinitely

  • MCTS/MCITP certifications expire and are removed from your transcript when the technology is no longer generally supported by Microsoft

  • MCITP certifications must be renewed every three years

  • Exams can be taken in any order, but Microsoft recommends taking the required MCTS exams before the MCITP exam
Microsoft has several resources on the web that describe the certifications beyond what I've covered here, and provide an overview of the knowledge you should have to take the exams.

What are your thoughts on the new certification framework? Leave your comments below!

10:09 AM