Microsoft has been through a lot of changes to their Microsoft Partner ecosystem and individual Certification Programs in recent years. The Partner system is an official network that provides partner, vendors, and service providers resources to sell Microsoft-related products and services. As a part of this, Certification Programs allows individuals to hold certifications in specific technologies or skills. The two are interlinked, as Partners need to have certified individuals as a part of maintaining their relationship with Microsoft.

Here’s a brief history of Microsoft’s programs through the years:

  • 1992 – Microsoft Certified Solution Provider Program launched
  • 1992 – Microsoft Certified Professional program launches
  • 1993 – First series certification program is launched
  • 1994 – Solution Developer and other certifications launched
  • 1999 – Second series certification program is launched
  • 2000 – Microsoft Certified Partner Program launched
  • 2003 – Third series (Professional Series) certification program is launched
  • 2010 – Microsoft Partner Network launched
  • 2012 – Fourth series (Associate/Expert/Master Series) certification program launched

Aside from the first partner program launch in 1992, the biggest change has been the launch of the Microsoft Partner Network in 2010. This officially retired the old “Microsoft Certified” and “Microsoft Gold Certified” partner accreditations, replacing them with technology-specific Silver and Gold competencies with more stringent requirements. You might notice many companies are still using the old “Gold Certified” logos, which are no longer valid or allowed for use. eImagine used this change in partnership schema to transition from a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner to a partner with both Gold and Silver competencies in our targeted technologies.

In 2003, Microsoft made a drastic change to their individual certification program by launching the Professional Series certifications, superseding the previous certification titles. Previous, certifications like Systems Administrator (MCSA), Certified Application Developer (MCAD), Solution Developer (MCSD) and others were popular. They were replaced with Technology Specialist (MCTS), Professional Developer (MCPD), and IT Professional (MCITP). Maybe people are still promoting their MCAD and other old certification titles today, even though the programs have been retired and replaced.

Fast forward to 2012 and Microsoft is changing the schema yet again, with the Associate/Expert/Master Series of certification. This new series re-introduces some of the original acronyms for certification. Personally,I find this re-use of titles confusing… Now people who never upgraded their original certifications from a decade (or two) ago have even more of a reason to keep it listed on their resumes and email signature blocks. The new certification series also introduces cloud-based tracks. This is a brand new feature for certification, though it is reminiscent of 1996 when Microsoft introduced “Internet” web-based specialty certifications, which were not widely adopted. Hopefully they will have better luck with the cloud specialties!

As in the past, I will be keeping my certifications up to date. In fact, I already have an invitation to take the new Visual Studio 11 exam when it is released to get a head start on the new individual certification program! Are you working on staying useful in your career?

Learn more about eImagine’s certifications and history with Microsoft.

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