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Nov 10 2011   5:15PM GMT

Microsoft Speaks Out on Certification Defense!

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

There’s a fascinating story (…well, to me, anyway…) in the Microsoft News Center that popped up this morning. It’s entitled “Microsoft Ensures Integrity of Its Certification Program” and features a Q&A with Don Field, the company’s Senior Director of Certification and Training, whom I’ve interviewed for this very blog on numerous occasions. The item showed up in an email from Microsoft’s PR agency this morning with a subject line of “Microsoft Continues to Win Battle Against Brain Dumps as Part of Certification Integrity Efforts.”

As I perused this teaser, I found myself thinking, “Gosh, I hate brain dumps, too, but I bet this is another piece of dessicated PR prose that says as little as possible at great length.” I’m happy to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’m glad I took the time — albeit with some trepidation — to click the link and see what was up with this bit of self-professed self-promotion.

For one thing, though the centerpiece of the story is a recent $13.5 million judgement against what Field identifies as the ‘”testinside” domain names’ who practiced the kind of brain dumping that is the bane of many certification programs (namely, direct and unauthorized disclosure of precise exam contents), it is certainly about quite a bit more than that. Among my favorite bits and pieces of this article is the disclosure that the Microsoft certified population now consists of a “…global community of over 6 million other Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPS)…” and some interesting discussion of the goals and methods that the Microsoft Learning teams uses to guide its activities and protect its assets. This is the first time I’ve seen any numbers out of Microsoft Learning for a while (I still miss their old quarterly detailed numbers reports).

Other interesting gems also emerge from this question-and-answer document:

  • Windows Azure and Office 365 certs don’t have associated version numbers (neither does Windows Phone, for that matter). Hmm. These are also the certs that do come with time limits, and need to be recertified after three years. This could be an important “tell” to determine when MS will use recertification requirements for some of its other future credentials.
  • Don also repeated his basic riff on recertification topics, as I already reported numerous time this summer most recently in my “Microsoft Shares Results from Its Recent Recertification Survey” on 9/22/2011.
  • There’s an interesting discussion of Microsoft Learning’s “4 D” model for designing certifications and exam: design, develop, deliver, and defend. Nice details on all four Ds appear in this story, but the obvious emphasis here in on the “defend” part what with a 13-plus million dollar judgement just awarded from the bad guys.

As PR pieces go, this one is  longer on substance and shorter on breathless hype than most of them. If my summary here whets your appetite, you’ll want to check it out for yourself.

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