Wednesday, November 21, 2012 2:35 AM
I remember 2.5 years ago when Microsoft dropped a bomb on the Microsoft Partner community: all Gold competencies would require .NET 4 based premiere certifications (MCPD). Problem was, this gave a window of about 6 months for partners to update their employees’ certifications. At the place I was working, I put together an aggressive plan and we were able to attain the certs needed.
Microsoft is always open that the certification requirements will change as the industry changes. .NET 1.0 certifications are useless here in 2012, and rightfully so they’ve been retired for a long time now. But now we’re seeing a new tactic by Microsoft – shifting gears away from certifications that speak to what industry needs and more to the Windows 8 agenda.
Consider that currently the premiere development certification is the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer, which comes in three flavours – Web, Windows, and Azure. All require WCF and Data Access exams, as well as one that deals with the associated base technologies (ASP.NET, WinForms/WPF, Azure), and one that ties all three together in a solution-based exam. For Microsoft-based organizations, these skills aren’t just valid but necessary in building Microsoft applications.
But the MCPD is being replaced with our old friend Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). So far, Microsoft has only released two types of MCSD – Web and Windows Store Apps.
Windows Store Apps?!
Consider too the skills being assessed for the Windows Store Apps:
Get your MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using HTML5
Get your MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using C#
*Image Source: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsd-windows-store-apps.aspx Nov 21/2012
If you look at the skills being tested in each exam, you’ll find that skills like WCF and Data Access are downplayed compared to things like integrating Charms, facilitating Search, programming for the microphone and camera – all very Windows 8 focussed items. Where this becomes maddening is that Microsoft is still pushing Windows 7 with enterprise clients. According to a ZDNet article, Microsoft wants to see Windows 7 on 70% of enterprise desktops by mid 2013. Assuming they somehow meet that (its a pretty lofty goal), there’s years of traditional desktop-based development that will still be required at some level.
For those thinking they’ll just write and stick with the MCPD certification, note that most exams that go towards that certification will be retired at the end of July 2013! (Read the small print). And while details haven’t been finalized, its a safe bet that MCPD certifications eventually won’t count towards Gold-level competencies in the Microsoft Partner program.
What this means for Microsoft Partners and Developers is that certification for desktop development is going to be limited to Windows Store Apps unless Microsoft re-introduces a traditional desktop (WPF) based MCSD cert.
Web Application Development – It’s Not All Bad
There’s big changes on the web side of certification, but I actually see these changes as being for the good! Check out the new exam requirements for MCSD – Web Applications:
Get your MCSD: Web Applications certification
*Image Source: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-mcsd-web-applications.aspx Nov 21, 2012
The fact that the second exam clearly states “MVC Web Applications” shows that Web Forms is truly legacy and deprecated. That’s not to say there aren’t those out there that are still supporting or (for whatever reason) doing new dev with Web Forms, but this move by Microsoft is telling the community they better get on the MVC bandwagon if they want to stay current. Fantastic!
And of course Azure needs to be here as well, and this is where the Microsoft agenda fits in. It’s no secret that there’s been a huge push in getting developers on to Azure. I don’t see this as being a bad thing either, as cloud computing (whether Azure, private, or 3rd party) is a necessary skill for developers to have here in 2012.
Get Ready for Changes
In addition to the changes in certifications, the Microsoft Partner competencies are going through changes as well. Web and Software Development are being merged into a single competency, meaning that licenses you would have received from having both as Gold are reduced. Other competencies are either being removed or changed, as are the exam requirements.
In the same way that we’re seeing faster release cycles from Microsoft, so too will we see the Microsoft Partner Program and MS Certifications evolve faster than ever before. Many of us got caught in the last wave of changes, but this time we can see the wave coming – and it looks pretty big!