While the image of Old Man 2014 shuffling off this mortal coil as Wee Bonny Babe 2015 takes over is still fresh in everyone's minds, Microsoft is having its own out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new moment. Four pull-dated credentials are departing for a rocker on the porch at the Old Certification Home, while two brand new certs are just coming online, and one existing cert had magically turned into three.
We'll start with the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) enclave, where four exams are set to be put out to pasture on July 31. There are actually 18 exams that will retire July 31 — it's going big day for goodbyes — but our focus today is on the ones announced last week. (Although if you insist, then by all means, view the full list. )
Exam 98-363: Web Development Fundamentals, exam 98-372: Microsoft .NET Fundamentals and exam 98-374: Gaming Development Fundamentals, all of which are tied to Microsoft's Visual Studio product, are the latest to join the big midsummer retirement party. If you're preparing to take any of those exams, then consider accelerating your preparations. Also consider yourself warned. It's not unheard of for certification candidates to sink a pile of money into preparation and then find themselves unable to take the exam they've studied for.
There are no direct replacements for the three old warhorses at the moment, but Microsoft Learning recommends exams 98-375: App Development Fundamentals and 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals as potential lane change options.
Still in the MTA universe, there are two new exams, including one that's probably about to shoot to the top of a number of certification to-do lists. Exam 98-368: Mobility and Device Fundamentals is a direct replacement for 98-349: Windows Operating System Fundamentals, which gets the hook either on July 15 or July 31 (Microsoft Learning disagrees with itself on this point).
The really big get, however, is 98-363: Cloud Fundamentals. The new exam is designed to test candidates' knowledge of "the essentials of cloud computing technologies," and if that's not a red hot certification subject then the sky isn't blue. It seems quite likely that this exam is similar to CompTIA's Cloud Essentials offering, so consider the Old West-style high noon showdown afoot.
That takes care of all the big MTA news, so now we're switching to the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) domain. The big MOS news is that the Microsoft Office Master certification has been adapted to help candidates apply it more directly to their career path of choice.
Previously, Microsoft Office Master candidates followed a one-size-fits-all path to certification. That option is still available, but effective immediately, the "Traditional" track is being augmented by both a "Word" track and and "Excel" track. Now candidates have the option to emphasize either of those two core Office products in their pursuit of Microsoft Office Master certification.
The Word track is expected to be popular with candidates preparing for careers in fields like journalism, law, and sales and marketing, while the Excel track should appeal to those taking aim at careers in accounting, finance, database administration and research. The Traditional track will involve completion of four required exams and one elective, while both the Word and Excel tracks have three required exams and one elective.