A man and a woman smiling to each other, with Bit the Raccoon standing to the right of them.

By Edward Jones, Firebrand Training

On 21 September, Microsoft announced it was streamlining its technical certification pathways

Alongside the launch of eight certifications and the retirement of thirteen, there were big shifts which will affect how you earn and recertify Microsoft certifications. Not to mention the fact you may have already earned a new certification.

Make sure you understand the key changes, read on to discover all the changes and how they could affect you.

Discover the new Microsoft certifications

A flowchart showing the current certification routes

Whilst the launch focussed on the release of five new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Developer (MCSD) specialties, three new Associate (MCSA) specialities were also launched at the same time. These include:

MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure – prove your expertise in bringing the benefits of cloud technologies to your business – including Azure and Windows Server 2016

MCSE: Mobility – demonstrate your skills across the Windows Client and Enterprise Mobility Suite

MCSE: Data Management and Analysis – show your specialist SQL Server skills across administration, business intelligence or building data solutions

MCSE: Productivity – demonstrate the skills to boost business productivity through Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange or Skype for Business

MCSD: App Builder – prove the skills to build modern mobile and web applications

MCSA: Cloud Platform – demonstrate your expertise with Microsoft cloud-related technologies

MCSA: Web Applications – prove you have the expertise to build and implement modern applications that scale

MCSA: Universal Windows Platform – show you can build Universal Windows Platform apps that scale across the range of Windows devices

You can begin earning these certifications now. In fact, Firebrand already offer an accelerated route to the new and MCSD and MCSE certifications.


Understand how earning a new MCSD or MCSE has changed

Alongside the new MCSE and MCSD certifications comes a fundamental change in how you earn them. The first stage of needing a prerequisite MCSA remains the same. It’s the next stage where the big change has happened.

Before, you were required to pass a set pathway of two or three exams to earn your MCSE or MCSD. Now, you only need to pass one exam, which you choose from 5 to 10 options, known as electives. Those with long memories will recognise this change as a throwback to the old days of earning Microsoft certifications prior to 2008.

Check out the new Microsoft certification pathways on a recent post I created to get an in depth look at the pathways and elective exams.


Understand the fundamental change to recertification

Recertification is dead. You are no longer required to pass a recertification exam every two to three years to keep you credential in the Active section of your transcript.

You do not need to recertify the new MCSE/MCSD certifications, they will remain on the Active section of your transcript. You can however re-earn your certification every year by passing an additional elective exam aligned to your chosen credential. This demonstrates your growth in Microsoft product knowledge, alongside the rapid evolution of some Microsoft technologies – where new features are launched weekly.

As a result, all recertification exams are retiring. Microsoft will also continue launching multiple new electives on a yearly cycle – aligned to the new certifications. This means you can re-earn your certification and prove new knowledge on the latest technologies or upgrades to rapidly changing platforms like Azure.


Certifications are retiring, curriculum and exams are not

Whilst Microsoft announced the retirement of thirteen MCSE and MCSD certifications, the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) and exams aligned to earning these have not. These corresponding MOCs and exams have been redistributed as elective options for the new streamlined technical certifications.

The thirteen certifications retiring 31 March 2017 are as follows:

  • 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


You may have a new MCSE or MCSD certification already

If you currently hold an active MCSE or MCSD certification, your MCP transcript is being re-evaluated in line with the new MCSE and MCSD certification requirements. As such, you will earn one of the new corresponding MCSE of MCSD certifications for 2016, without having to take an additional exam.

The list of eligible certifications and corresponding certifications are below:

You Active Certification   Your New Certification
MCSE: Server Infrastructure > MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
MCSE: Private Cloud > MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
MCSE: Data Platform > MCSE: Data Management and Analysis
MCSE: Business Intelligence > MCSE: Data Management and Analysis
MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps > MCSE: Mobility
MCSE: SharePoint > MCSE: Productivity
MCSE: Communication > MCSE: Productivity
MCSE: Messaging > MCSE: Productivity
MCSD: Universal Windows Platform > MCSD: App Builder
MCSD: Web Applications > MCSD: App Builder
MCSD: SharePoint Applications > MCSD: App Builder


If you currently hold an inactive MCSE or MCSD from the list above, you have until 31 December 2016 to earn a new MCSE or MCSD. You can do this by taking a recertification exam or choosing from the list of electives associated with the new MCSE or MCSD certifications.

So there you have it, a straight forward look at all the major changes resulting from the new streamlined technical certifications.

It’s also worth checking out Larry Kaye’s post on the Born to Learn blog, where he answers the top 12 questions on the new certification paths. This is especially relevant if you have questions about how the new certifications affect your MPN Partner status.