You can read the text of the email below:
We are contacting you to let you know we are making a change to the Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, and Microsoft Certified Architect certifications. As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program. Microsoft will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013. The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry to determine if there’s a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our program.
As a Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, or Microsoft Certified Architect, you have earned one of the highest certifications available through the Microsoft Certification program. Although individuals will no longer be able to earn these certifications, you will continue to hold the credential and you will not be required to recertify your credential in the future. You will continue to have access to the logos through the MCP site, and your certifications will continue to show in the appropriate section of your transcript, according to Microsoft technology retirement dates. If you are a Charter Member, you will continue to hold the Charter Member designation on your transcript.
Also as a Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, or Microsoft Certified Architect, you are a member of an exclusive, highly technical community and you’ve told us this community is one of the biggest benefits of your certification. We encourage you to stay connected with your peers through the main community distribution lists. Although we won’t be adding more people to this community, you continue to be a valued member of it. Over time, Microsoft plans to transition the distribution lists to the community, and, with your consent, will include your information so that it can continue to be a valuable resource for your ongoing technical discussions.
Within the coming weeks, you will receive invitations to an updated community site. This community site will require you to sign in with a Microsoft Account and will replace the need for a Microsoft Partner account as is required today. From this site, you will be able to manage service requests for the Masters and Architects communities – such as ordering welcome kits and managing your contact information for the distribution lists and directory – and accessing training rotation and other community content (if applicable).
If you have not ordered your Welcome Kit, the last day to do so is October 31, 2013. To order your Welcome Kit, please contact the Advanced Cert team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you for your commitment to Microsoft technologies.
Director, Certification Product Management
Developer & Platform Evangelism
No new exams will be created for new versions of the program,a nd the current exams will be retired October 1. anyone with the Master or Architect certification will not lose their certification. They can continue to use the logos and certifications. Otherwise, the program is effectively dead. This is a particularly hard blow to the members of the community. It also hits a lot of people who have been working hard to become a member of this community.
But I’m not here to talk about how hard hit we all are. Plenty of people have already voiced that well enough on their blogs. See the following posts and Connect entry:
- Microsoft killed MCM/MCSM/MCA certifications by János Berke (blog|@JanosBerke)
- So Long MCM by Nic Cain (blog|@SirSQL)
- Microsoft Certified Mayhem by Mark Holmes (blog|@SQLJuju)
- Please don’t get rid of the MCM and MCA programs by Jen Stirrup (blog|@jenstirrup)
Certified Master Reboot
In Jen Stirrup’s Connect entry above, Tim Sneath (blog|@timsneath), product manager at Microsoft Learning, stepped up to the plate and provided a lot more info. You can find his response among the many that have replied to the Connect entry or you can read it below.
Posted by Tim Sneath on 8/31/2013 at 1:32 PM
Thank you for the passion and feedback. We’re reading your comments and take them seriously, and as the person ultimately responsible for the decision to retire the Masters program in its current form, I wanted to provide a little additional context.
Firstly, you should know that while I’ve been accused of many things in my career, I’m not a “bean counter”. I come from the community myself; I co-authored a book on SQL Server development, I have been certified myself for nearly twenty years, I’ve architected and implemented several large Microsoft technology deployments, my major was in computer science. I’m a developer first, a manager second.
Deciding to retire exams for the Masters program was a painful decision – one we did not make lightly or without many months of deliberation. You are the vanguard of the community. You have the most advanced skills and have demonstrated it through a grueling and intensive program. The certification is a clear marker of experience, knowledge and practical skills. In short, having the Masters credential is a huge accomplishment and nobody can take that away from the community. And of course, we’re not removing the credential itself, even though it’s true that we’re closing the program to new entrants at this time.
The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for.
Sure, it loses us money (and not a small amount), but that’s not the point. We simply think we could do much more for the broader community at this level – that we could create something for many more to aspire to. We want it to be an elite community, certainly. But some of the non-technical barriers to entry run the risk of making it elitist for non-technical reasons. Having a program that costs candidates nearly $20,000 creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Having a program that is English-only and only offered in the USA creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Across all products, the Masters program certifies just a couple of hundred people each year, and yet the costs of running this program make it impossible to scale out any further. And many of the certifications currently offered are outdated – for example, SQL Server 2008 – yet we just can’t afford to fully update them.
That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor. We have some plans already, but it’s a little too early to share them at this stage. Over the next couple of months, we’d like to talk to many of you to help us evaluate our certifications and build something that will endure and be sustainable for many years to come.
We hate having to do this – causing upset amongst our most treasured community is far from ideal. But sometimes in order to build, you have to create space for new foundations. I personally have the highest respect for this community. I joined the learning team because I wanted to grow the impact and credibility of our certification programs. I know this decision hurts. Perhaps you think it is wrong-headed, but I wanted to at least explain some of the rationale. It comes from the desire to further invest in the IT Pro community, rather than the converse. It comes from the desire to align our programs with market demand, and to scale them in such a way that the market demand itself grows. It comes from the desire to be able to offer more benefits, not fewer. And over time I hope we’ll be able to demonstrate the positive sides of the changes we are going through as we plan a bright future for our certifications.
Thank you for listening… we appreciate you more than you know.
For years, the lower certifications have been plagued with people looking to beat the system. Cheaters and boot-campers with no real experience have given the lower certifications a bad reputation of being a paper certification. Our number one mission with scaling out the Master certification was to make sure that did not happen with the MCM. The MCM/MCA certifications today remain the true pinnacle of Microsoft certifications. Will it’s replacement, assuming there is one, do the same? This is what scares me.
If there is a reboot of the Master program and it follows the path of the lower certifications by giving up integrity for higher adoption rates, it will have a domino effect and the current Masters stand to lose their integrity as well. If there is a new Master certification that can be easily passed with no real-world experience, all Masters will go down with the ship. If they are not committed to maintaining the integrity of the new program, then the existing community will be better off with no program at all.