"Technology changes can cause some exams and certifications to become less relevant . . ."
Sure, but that's "less relevant" when considering broad industry trends; it's not irrelevant to everyone.
The reasoning behind this is clearly Microsoft's push for their mobile/cloud-first strategy. As I said in comment on a previous article, this strategy affects every facet of Microsoft - from pricing to software versions to licensing options to development priorities, to marketing, to acquisitions, to, yes, certification paths.
I remember looking at some of the partner levels and noticing how the required certifications have changed with so much more focus on 'cloud'.
While it is clear that the technologies in question - cloud and 'apps' and mobile devices - are very much a part of modern day IT, I can't help but feel that Microsoft's decisions in the area of exams and certifications are mostly about pushing the technologies and services that they want to sell.
MS are trying to kill the traditional idea of desktops and managing and deploying applications, not because that paradigm is broken but because they would rather sell a different style of service.