People are competitive. It's almost certainly been in our DNA from the beginning. If Early Man had been able to follow neighboring clans on proto-Facebook, or download the latest cuneiform keymap to his clay tablet, then prehistory would probably include cave paintings depicting the rankings of competitors in the annual Trans-Land-Mass Mammoth Hunt and Clifftop Stampede. In 2015, if there's any means at all of differentiating performance at something, then there's probably a competition to objectively determine who is best at that thing.
Among many IT skills, proficiency at using the core programs of the Microsoft Office workplace productivity suite - Word, Excel and PowerPoint - is both measurable and widespread. You might not have a very large field in a VMware VCDX competition, or you might struggle to judge the comparative excellence of business intelligence analysts. It's perfectly natural, on the other hand, for more than a half-million students worldwide to come together and see who has the best Word or PowerPoint skills.
It's not just a competition: All of the contestants qualify to participate by earning a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification, which can be an important stepping stone to future employment, or more advanced IT credentials (or both). The most recent Certification Magazine annual Salary Survey revealed that MOS credential holders at the intermediate Expert level draw an average annual salary of $59,370.
After months of preliminary competitions, a field of more than 600,000 competitors shrank to six big winners last week in Dallas, as the 2015 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship came to its thrilling climax. With 145 students entering the Microsoft Office Specialist equivalent of Thunderdome, or maybe ancient Rome's Circus Maximus, six champions emerged, one apiece for both the 2010 and 2013 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
It was a near clean sweep for nations in the Asia-Pacific region, with winners representing Hong Kong (People's Republic of China), Macau (People's Republic of China), Singapore and Thailand, while the rest of the planet had to settle for being represented by a lone winner from the Dominican Republic. Microsoft Office Specialist acumen is clearly in full flower in the Far East. Winners of the annual competition, held for the 14th time this year, are as follows:
- Pak Hei Lee, Hong Kong - Microsoft Word 2013
- Elliot Tan Yew Han, Singapore - Microsoft Excel 2013
- Taweelap Suwattanapunkul, Thailand - Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
- Manuel Burgos, Dominican Republic - Microsoft Word 2010
- Ka Hei Chao, Macau - Microsoft Excel 2010
- Admon Wen Lee, Malaysia - Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
The competition was hosted at the Gaylord Texan Grapevine Resort in Dallas. The three winners in Microsoft Office 2013 categories each received a $7,500 scholarship prize, while each winner in the Microsoft Office 2010 categories was given a $5,000 scholarship prize. This was the first competition to feature 2013 Microsoft Office products. Prior to 2015, the last few competitions has focused on the 2007 and 2010 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Plans for the 2016 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship are already in place. The grand finale of next year's even will be held in Orlando, Fla., which, given the proximity of Disney World, could signal a return to the Disney connection boasted by recent championships, which were hosted at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.