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Jul 25 2012   2:58PM GMT

Rebooted MCSE Adds Some Interesting Wrinkles

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In June and July of 2012, I blogged several times about the new, reinvented MCSE (it’s Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert this time around, rather than Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). In “Microsoft Private Cloud Exams Now Live,” I prefigured the program thanks to the first batch of Server 2012 exams that are now known as MCSE: Private Cloud. A week later, I blogged for PearsonITCertification that “MS Announces New MCSE Credentials for Windows Server 2012.” Then, at the beginning of July, I added some musings on the shape of the new overall Microsoft MCSE/MCSA/MCSD program for Tom’s IT Pro in “Reflections on Changes to Microsoft’s Certification Programs.” Clearly, I’ve been noodling about where these new MS certs are concerned, and watching things unfold carefully.

A recent article from Michael Simmons for entitled “Reboot Successful: Microsoft’s New MCSE certifications” got me thinking on the new offerings once again, and also reminded me of some interesting aspects that I’d either underplayed or overlooked myself:

  • First, the new MCSE come with an expiration date. MCSEs need to recertify every three years like clockwork. Changes to exams that occur in the meantime will force them to re-initialize their knowledge and skills. Given a recent major version release cycle of about 3 years for Windows 7 and 8, this probably also means regular platform changes will be automatically included.
  • Second, the word on the street is that MCSE exams are becoming more difficult by deliberate design: you can find an interesting video on exam difficulty from Liberty Munson, Microsoft’s lead psychometrician and the person in charge of exam development and quality control. MS is working hard to keep their exams more challenging and more relevant to day-to-day problem diagnosis and solution.
  • Third, topics for the MCSE are more clearly delineated and differentiated. Instead of a general Server orientation and possible Security specialization, MCSE now clearly differentiates among server, desktop, private cloud, database platform, and business intelligence subject areas. This should help candidates pursue areas of greater interest to them, and employers to find IT professionals with better-defined skillsets to meet their needs.

All in all, I still very much like what I see with these new credentials, and the way they’re designed and organized. The general IT public apparently feels likewise, because new MCSEs are being minted at a pretty rapid rate. It will be interesting to see,  in fact, if the uptake of these new credentials causes Microsoft to resume regular release of their “certification count,” a practice that ended in the mid -2000s as the MCTS and MCITP began to take over for the prior generation of MCSE, MCSA, and so forth.

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