back to article Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away: Certification renewals to be free ... but annual

Microsoft is updating its certification system to one that requires an annual renewal as it eyes the rapidly changing tech landscape. Following its move from product-focused exams in favour of something more role-based, the company has turned its gaze on how renewals work. Rather than swotting up for one big exam once every …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's all a far cry from the good old days, ...

    ... where one could take a bunch of Microsoft Certified ____"

    There's about a bazillion different "certifications" now, so I'd say it's a far, far, far cry.

    Considering any college or autodidact education will only require about a Calc. 2 level to fulfill _ANY_ of the certifications, I see no reason to have so many outside of feigning "specialty". At least the old trifecta set of certifications focused on specialty themselves, but now they're setup to give the illusion of some specialty magic that isn't exactly correct to begin with. Take "IoT" or "AI". If you're IoT, you're a programmer of some type but, for "AI" you're a programmer writing something a mathematician came up with. Either way, you're a programmer. Lastly, the current way also assumes you can't be trained in something else. I mean does knowing C for embedded mean you can't understand Haskell for AI? You know Perl, so there's no way in hell you can learn Python? It all seems crazy and in the end you kind of suspect all this is just to make $$$ off of developers and kin.

  2. poohbear

    "also free of charge" ... for now.

    1. Franco

      They've been pushing this for a while. Running workshops all over the country (pre-covid) and onlne now for Azure Fundamentals along with a free voucher for the exam.

      Just passed the Azure Fundamentals, sadly got my 2016 MCSA exam to do before the end of January before it retires.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "... for now."

      I was thinking the same thing. Certification as a Service.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        It could we'll stay like that. My impression of MS certs (indeed most trade certs, Cisco are possibly an exception) is they are more an opportunity to indoctrinate people in the benefits of the product range. I looked at some mock MS exams a while back and their were plenty of questions of the form "What are the benefits of product X version Y over X version Y-1?" Questions like that have little to do with technical competence but everything to do with ensuring you're properly programmed with Microsoft sales patter.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          I know it is a bit niche but the Commvault Master Certification was a genuine test of knowledge. If you did not understand the finer details that made it work you had no hope. The exam expected you to fully understand masses of material that was not in the specific training but should know. What was really interesting is that unlike many of the certifications now, if you did not have hand-on experience of the products then it was not doable.

          There was no hiding, you either knew it and stood a chance of passing or you didn't and failed. It was a really high pass mark as well, none of this 50% to 60% crap.

  3. a_yank_lurker

    Certification Hell

    It seems like certifications have become the new 'degree'. If you do not have the correct certifications you are assumed to be an idiot and completely unqualified much like not having the right degree can bin you into sewer.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Certification Hell

      If you do not have the correct certifications you are assumed to be an idiot and completely unqualified

      Only by idiots (and H.R.)

      Even degrees are completely worthless in many respects. I started out without a degree, was taking (just) programming classes but decided early on I didn't need it. EXPERIENCE is _REALLY_ what matters, and hiring managers who do not include "or equivalent experience" in the job requirement are asking for a bunch of inexperienced PFYs to flood them with their "degree-based" resumes and little to no actual experience [which means you'll have to teach them "the difference" between shinola and 'that brown stuff', or their arses and a hole in the ground - that sort of thing].

      (I was actually hoping this cert thing was for DEVICE DRIVER SIGNING or something _TRULY_ useful, but once again, my bubbles are bursting with disappointment)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Certification Hell

        "Only by idiots (and H.R.)

        Not joking here, an entire 10 hour long documentary needs to be done exclusively on hiring managers of the top 50 companies. Which 50? Pick from any field.

    2. The Basis of everything is...

      Re: Certification Hell

      I got asked for all certificates right back to O Level (yes, that was a very long time ago). So I included a printout of a Unseen University "Doctorus Adamus cum Flabello Dulci" in the bundle - but specifically did not add it to the list of qualifications on the official list of claims - as a subtle dig that it's all a pointless exercise with no relevance to my current role.

      Several months later I noticed my company bio gained an additional line. Turns out HR had been migrating to a new system and were correcting previous oversights...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Certification Hell & HR

        For those that did 'O' levels then it is worth remembering the evolution of HR from payrole clerks

        HR typically do not have a clue about what makes a good technical employee (qualifications or experience) so they rely upon box ticking, a degree is a good bet for them if it turns out the person they let through the buffer shield is clueless.

        Buffering is HR's primary function and once you understand that then you can see why they get it wrong so often. That the end up employing the wrong people and the disruption this causes is never taken into account because the managers who insist upon HR recuitment never have to deal with it.

        I have in my time done their job, being asked to interview people for a job I knew nothing about (being both young and niave) by some manager who didn't either. It was truely embaressing with some even turned up in person who were both older, experienced and more informed and I had to interview them when I was clueless. All I got as requirements was C&G xxxx level 3, if they had included it then their CVs didnt go directly to the bin, that is HR style of recruitment.

        From this experience I didn't both applying for anything where the person in charge of recruitment didnt have a clue about the job, given that +60% of applications are filed in the bin just because they didnt have the right keywords along with my experience of working in HR recruited jobs. In the last there was always a lot of deadweight to be carried because no one with a clue spoke to them first to spot them as the BSers they were. These tools then stayed because they met some government quota and so the recruiter didn't have to admit they were incompetent.

        Truely the best companies to work for are those where the recuiter is recruiting for the job they used to do. They know what the job needs and as your manager can bring new people upto speed in a way that cluess HR can never match.

        HR is very much a shield for lazy/incompent managers and anyone who has worked under incompentents knows it doesn't make for a good working environment.

  4. N2

    Bon courage

    Thank God I'm off that bloody merry-go-round!

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Sounds OK to me

    Sounds OK to me. Unlike Linux, where (other than systemd steadily borging things that have been the same for decades), it kind of builds on that UNIX tradition, and the newer tools build on that, and so on; a UNIX admin really could probably warp to present day from like 1990 and not have too much trouble finding their way around (and even administrating) a modern-day Linux box; don't get me wrong, the modern user can point out "Hey, there's an easier way to do this now" (the 1990-era user will be using command line tools, where there's now also GUI tools that under the hood are using the same command line tools to actually get the job done).

    Windows? They love to move things around, change how things work (both internally and in terms of setting them up), deprecate features, sometimes without a full replacement in place, and so on (OK, I'll phrase it positively.. they love to "innovate"), so I do think a 1-year recert makes sense, and free instruction to keep people up to date is nice.

    1. nintendoeats

      Re: Sounds OK to me

      I can confirm. I actually have more time playing with IRIX than using Linux, and usually when I search a problem I find some trivially easy solution for Linux (which just makes it harder to find that olde style UNIX solution :p).

      In fact, usually when I'm searching for system command or C function references, I wind up on pages for Linux. Usually works just fine.

  6. spireite Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Like Salesforce, but better....

    I used to be SF certified, but very quickly tired of the certification merry-go-round.

    When I was in that space, each cert had three exams a year after the first exam of each cert... you were allowed to be no more than 2'renewal exams out, per cert.

    That became very wearing , very quickly...

    I'm wanting to do the Azure certs now, but looking at what they are .... seems many of them are 80% the same thing, with slight customisation....

  7. werdsmith Silver badge

    It’s a bit crap how it’s Azure focused now. For instance, for SQL Served the certification is heavily biased towards Azure hosted. Ignoring folk who use on premise instance and also those use SQL Server with cloud providers other than Azure.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      But it's always been the way.

      The correct answer and the Microsoft correct answer.

      1. Franco

        Yep. My first exam was the XP client exam. Every no boot scenario, the MS answer was "Use Last Known Good Configuration" which as everyone knows in the real world rarely if ever worked.

        Still, at least (in theory) if they are switching to roles based certification they'll stop with teaching stuff no one used in the real world. Examples include WINS (was still in 2012 exams IIRC, despite no one with any sense using it since the 90s), ADRMS (never yet seen a live deployment) ADFS (only used relatively recently with Office 365 but they were massive on it since 2008, and now most people are ditching it in favour of Azure AD Connect SSO)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A rigorous exam?

    Will people come reeling out of it going "My, what a rigorous exam"?

    And will the yearly recertification be "What is your name?" with a pass-mark of 75%?

    A Mr. E. L. Wisty is probably going to be the first to sit the new version.

  9. Guy de Loimbard

    It's all about revenue and

    monetising the meat Popsicle on the other side of the keyboard.

    Everyone has they're own view on certifications, I think they can be helpful in certain instances, but I don't look for a string of post nominal letters when I look to hire someone, nor someone who spent 4 of the last 5 years at Firebrand collecting every qualification under the sun they can.

    I have met one or two individuals like that over the time and they we're like alien beings.

    Question is, how do we accurately assess competence, if not through 3rd party validated certifications?

    Yes, I know HR use the quagmire of qualifications they're given by whatever department to sift through candidates, which we know doesn't work:

    Job Advert: We need a junior programmer on $30k must have all of the following: a PhD, CISSP,CISM,CISA, MSc, BSc, CEng, MCSA, CCNA, CCNP.... add you're own acronyms as you see fit.

    Bah humbug, it's nearly Christmas

    Cue the relentless use of software to word match then wonder why no candidates are making the cut.

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