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On Microsoft Recertification Policy

By  Jan 9, 2009

Topics: Certification

One obvious question for those of you who invested loads of blood, sweat, tears, time, and money in earning your Microsoft certification is, "When will my credential expire?" Let's address that question today.

In the past, it was always somewhat fuzzy to me in knowing (approximately or precisely) when Microsoft would announce the retirement of a Microsoft Certified Professional exam or credential. What I have taught my students historically is that you are normally safe for one revision of the technology under consideration.

In other words, if you had earned your Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) title on Windows 2000 Server, then you were safe until Microsoft develops two versions past this one.

As it happened, of course, Microsoft announced the expiration of certain Windows 2000 exams (and, by extension, their associated certifications) back in 2007, while Windows Server 2008 was in the Release Candidate status.

Nowadays, instead of the MCP, the MCSE, and the MCDBA, we have the MCTS, the MCITP, and the MCPD.

According to the Microsoft Learning Web site, the following constitutes Microsoft's official standpoint with regard to their own certification and recertification:

Your MCTS, MCITP, or MCPD certifications will retire when Microsoft discontinues mainstream support for the related technology. Typically, mainstream support is discontinued 7 to 10 years after the initial product release. When support ends, your related certification will retire.

In other words, nothing has really changed from Microsoft's perspective in its transition from the "old school" Microsoft certifications to the "new school." If you currently hold the MCSE in Windows Server 2003, you are 'safe' until the successor to Windows Server 2008 is in at least the late-beta development stage

I make this suggestion based upon my personal experience with Microsoft: 'mainstream support' of Microsoft products and technologies doesn't typically stretch back more than two versions.

If you are a current or prospective Microsoft certification candidate, then I suggest that you bookmark this Web site, which maintains a current list of exams that are scheduled for discontinuation:

Microsoft.com: Exams Scheduled for Discontinuation

Because I get this question quite a bit from folks, let me repeat my advice to you:

If you are currently in the middle of fulfilling your MCSE/Server 2003 requirements, then keep it up and complete the credential. The upgrade path to the Windows Server 2008 MCITP isn't that tough.

On the other hand, if you are currently wondering which server-related title to choose, please do yourself a favor and focus directly on the MCTS and/or the MCITP for Windows Server 2008. You want to squeeze as much life out of your certification as possible!

Have a great day.

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