back to article Microsoft kills broad entry-level IT certifications, replaces them with all-Microsoft curriculum

Microsoft has retired the exams for Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications, its broad entry-level tech certifications, and replaced them with a heavily Microsoft-centric curriculum. Aspirants for the MTA certs will be able to buy the right to sit exams until June 30, 2021 and take those exams between then and the …

  1. OssianScotland
    FAIL

    Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

    I'm just away to renew my MCT (15+ years) and am now having serious doubts about it.

    Almost all their certifications are "cloud" and training and certification for the on-prem systems seems almost non-existent (current versions of Exchange, SharePoint and even Server 2019 gone, SQL Server hanging on, but only just...). Even Desktop OSes seem to have merged into "Microsoft 365". And of course older products are "no longer relevant" and certs and training courses are dropped too.

    Maybe the market share is diminishing, but how much work does it take to update exams and courses to the new version, or even to keep older versions alive on the grounds they are still largely relevant?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

      All these certifications were and are meant to support the sales of current products. So really nothing new....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

      Sad.

      Funny how it's as if Active Directory and Windows Server no longer seem to exist, even though they make the world go round. Azure this, Azure that... I don't give a crap, and neither do my customers.

      I've got my MCSE pipe and slippers.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

        MS are not only forgetting on premise software users, but also businesses that use the the cloud providers other than Azure and might want to use MS applications in AWS, IBM Cloud, Google Cloud etc.

        Many bigger organisations have lifted and dropped their legacy into the cloud via virtualisation. Next step must be to migrate away from MS products if they are not going to be supportive of anything but Azure.

      2. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

        They don't make the world go round. Think of the universe of electronic devices that have operating systems, and they'll barely even feature.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

        Along with Gov't and Military customers who run all these services disconnected because they're not allowed to connect to the Internet. One of the many reasons we're switching more and more to Linux where I work.

    3. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

      Shooting oneself in the foot was (in WW1) intentional - a way out of the trenches. This is intentional too. Microshaft want everyone to know nothing other than their products. That way they corner the revenue stream. This is a normal approach - it's called business.

    4. Unicornpiss
      Flame

      Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

      And yet, with all this emphasis on "training", and seemingly screwing over existing and potentially new employees and partners, Microsoft's overall software quality is extremely low for production releases compared to almost everyone, IMO. I suppose this falls under the Why? "Because they can" category. Also, which of the new courses contains the "Creating deranged and annoying UIs" and "Market crap to your existing customers at every turn" modules that are apparently mandatory at MS..

    5. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot...Again...

      Microsoft is moving into Microsoft skills only because is in Microsoft favor. Don't like it? Then don't take the Microsoft exams for Microsoft products!

  2. Roger Greenwood
    Coat

    I'm not an expert but

    studying for a specific Microsoft product exam, without some fundamentals, seems like learning to tune the twin carburettor of a Ford Cortina 1600e without doing any engineering. It's useful life may be somewhat limted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not an expert but

      Microsoft's ultimate sales pitch, refined to its purest form, is tending towards, "you don't need engineers. You just need Azure."

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: I'm not an expert but

      Given the general standard of commercial technology training, it's par for the course, and it's not a new problem. There's a Dilbert cartoon from 2000 - "step away from that server - I'm certified!" -> "how embarrassing - that's all I remember from the training course!".

    3. bigtreeman

      Re: I'm not an expert but

      I once had a TAFE teacher teaching us about networking, unaware that an ethernet cable is transformer isolated, talking about 'the earth wire'. Turned out he had been an electrician's assistant and had previously done this course. Yes it was a course solely focused on M$ products.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    So glad I'm retiring soon

    Year after year the rules keep changing, the goals moved and the needed effort made harder. This used to be called "cheating" but that's not a fashionable attitude these days.

    Sod all of it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getting closer to time to retire?

    I have no interest in becoming a salesdroid for a dead-end product like Windows 10 or Office365. Perhaps I have been in IT too long.

    Lets see...

    Mortgage - paid

    house - needs some work

    Bank balance - with a little juggling they could be level or in good credit

    Car - time to get rid of the gas guzzler and get an electric one

    pension(s) - workplace one good - private one OK - state one need a couple more years before I get that one

    Let's wait until this pandemic is out of the way (spring 2022 or 2023?) and GTF out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting closer to time to retire?

      Very much the same thoughts I had this time 5 years ago.

      Your checklist mirrored 90% of mine.

      I looked at W10, Server 2016 and where MS was going with Azure and decided it was time to GTF out which I did the following September.

      Never regretted retiring at 63.

      I got my Electric Car in 2019. Still brings a smile to my face when I put my foot down. Instant power.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Getting closer to time to retire?

        I'm counting the days, my early retirement will be from full on IT supporting science to doing some of the science part time. I'm wringing out the last of this current role, when it goes then so do I.

        I won't miss it.

    2. bigtreeman

      Re: Getting closer to time to retire?

      - got the caravan for the trip around Oz

      - too much time on your hands, make a wooden surfboard and go surfing (or learn)

      - caravan around, surf at spot X

      - caravan around, surf at spot X

      - caravan around, surf at spot X

      - caravan around, surf at spot X

      - caravan around, surf at spot X

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting closer to time to retire?

      A in-house course was the "fad" of the latest of the churn executives who move from company to company on a gilded path. We were given a card on which to write our personal reminder about the course's enlightenment objectives for which we would aim. Came across my card the other day - on which I had written "retire". Which I duly did at the next opportunity.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Do these certifications even do anything?

    Personally I think these courses are just a racket. I've certainly never seen any job that has hinged on whether someone having a certification or not for some product.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

      I think Microsoft required some of their "Gold" partners or whatever, to have a certain number of certification level staff, so they enabled those vacancies.

      But most people don't really care, my employer offered to pay for the exams so I passed the exams but then forgot about them after that.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

        Yeah, it's mostly MSPs who are concerned because their discounts and support levels are contingent on their partner level.

        For us contractors it can be useful too, although it's generally more useful being a partner at all and therefore having access to support tickets without paying through the nose.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

      I've certainly never seen any job that has hinged on whether someone having a certification or not

      True, but these days we all need "CPD" to keep things such as professional memberships valid. That's essentially flannel too in most cases but very lucrative flannel to the providers of "training".

      I finally became cynical when I found that participating in Parliamentary guidance and international standards setting got me the same points per hour as sitting at the back of someone else's powerpoint presentation.

      One government agency's professional certification CPD currently awards one point for an "article" of up to 1000 words (regardless of content or quality) and two points for 1000 words or more (ditto). The result (inevitably) is masses of verbose shallow waffle in promo monthlies, but what the heck? They get you the required points to keep your qualification.

      1. yetanotheraoc

        Post hoc ergo propter hoc

        "One government agency's professional certification CPD currently awards one point for an ""article"" of up to 1000 words (regardless of content or quality) and two points for 1000 words or more (ditto). The result (inevitably) is masses of verbose shallow waffle in promo monthlies, but what the heck?"

        Yes, the government agency needs a more rational standard for certification. Still, there are plenty of authors who don't need any points-incentives to turn out masses of verbose shallow waffle. It's the promo monthlies' editors who should get the blame here.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Post hoc ergo propter hoc

          "It's the promo monthlies' editors who should get the blame here."

          My point was - you can arbitrarily double your CPD score by adding a bit of piffle waffle. Seems somehow irrational, as does the CPD scoring for one institute that I'll not name (purely out of courtesy of course). It awards one point per hour for attending training courses, unless they're the institute's own paid training courses, for which you get two points per hour. I wonder why...

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: CPD

        Continuing Product Development is what Microsoft would like those initials to mean.

        No, scrub that

        Continuing Pound Dividends is what Microsoft would like those initials to mean.

    3. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

      Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

      I had an MCSE parachuted in above me at one point early in my career. Turns out he'd never done anything outside of the labs so his troubleshooting and fix skills were pretty poor. I ended up training him.

      Similar story with a CCNA I worked with. He got all exited that he'd get to work on real Cisco kit rather than just labs stuff. Again he wasn't especially useful in a crisis. But then what do you expect from someone who's only experience in networking was a 2 week crash-course?

      Then I met a Checkpoint chap but he knew his stuff inside and out.

      I bought a set of MCSE books years ago but never bothered with the exams. I prefer knowing best practice and then combining that with experience (both mine and that of my colleagues).

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

        > I ended up training him

        Why did you bother?

    4. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Do these certifications even do anything?

      They're like those daft certificates you see displayed behind the reception desk at car-dealership service depts. You know the ones: "This is to certify that (insert name of PFY) has been on a 3-day Screwdriver Handling course." So the PFY knows to hold the thicker end of the screwdriver, presumably.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it varies. Some companies are deeply concerned with ass covering.

    I once worked for a US-owned company who had a policy that nobody could touch a system unless they had been on the training course and got the certificate for that system. It didn't matter how much knowledge or experience you had. You had to call in the guy with the certificate. More often than not, the guy with the certificate was a useless moron who would follow the procedure in their course notes without really understanding what they were doing.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "nobody could touch a system unless they had been on the training course"

      I was once commissioned to write a commercial risk management training course, a task which paid a limited amount. However I was not permitted to deliver it to candidates (which paid a lot) because I hadn't taken it and passed its exam. My argument that there was a conflict of interest in sitting an exam I had myself largely set cut not ice - no pass, no permission to deliver the course. This is CPD in its impurest form.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What should I do with my 22 years old MCSE NT 4.0 certificate ?

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      WinXP era certs for me. The full boat: XP, 2K3, Exchange, etc… I’ve seen no reason to move beyond those certs. Now I almost certainly never will.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Unless MS change their mind, you can't.

        I've got MCSE 2003 and MCSA 2008 and 2012, but the 2016 upgrade exam has just been retired and there's never (as yet) been a 2019 exam. They're (apparently) going down the route of roles based certification rather than product based, but I've heard that before. I do have the Azure Fundamentals cert, but only because it was easy and there was a free voucher for attending the online course.

    2. richdin

      CNE anyone?

      Somewhere around here are my floppy disks with my Certified Netware Engineer certificate and master decoder ring...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Srsly, who cares?

    These things were always just a scam. Honestly, who's ever looked at an incoming CV and said to themself "Hey! This dev has some great certifications" ??? Much more likely to have said "Hey! This dev has been collecting certifications ... probably doesn't know anything and is trying to cover it up with useless paperwork." Certifications just don't work for software, and it's not the only career that's so hard to pin-down. Consider "Sales" ... nobody can tell you how to be a good salesperson and "Going on a course" is not going to endow you with talent. I think of software as being a bit like that, with the primary difference being that "Sales" is much easier to measure: the amount of cash you bring in.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Srsly, who cares?

      Honestly, who's ever looked at an incoming CV and said to themself "Hey! This dev has some great certifications"

      I've been consulting on data protection for clients of all sizes since the year 2000 (two generations of the legislation) but I have to operate independently because every employer (including consultancies) requires candidates to have taken an expensive shallow training course lasting less than two weeks.

      One such course advertised itself as equipping those who passed a computer marked multiple choice test for employment as a Data Protection Officer. This is a statutory role mandating independent judgement and action, where mistakes could land an employer with a 2M euro fine, and in some cases ruin the lives of data subjects. But although two weeks' training from scratch qualifies, apparently 20 years experience doesn't. This explains a lot about the general level of non-compliance.

      So yes, HR does rely on post nominal acronyms they don't understand. It's less effort than finding out how competent candidates actually are.

      1. yetanotheraoc

        Re: Srsly, who cares?

        Upvoted for the HR angle.

    2. Brian Miller

      Re: Srsly, who cares?

      Unfortunately, incompetent people care. Just like, "do you have a degree?" it is not proof that someone can do the job, and do it well. It just means they have a stamped piece of paper.

      I wish I could 'fsck -y /dev/management' but there is no device there...

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        stamped piece of paper?

        @Brian Miller “Just like, "do you have a degree?" it is not proof that someone can do the job, and do it well. It just means they have a stamped piece of paper.”

        True a degree is not proof that someone can do the job and do it well, but neither is claimed job experience, the interview or any test given to the job applicant. The only proof an applicant can do the job well is when they do the job well.

        A degree is more than a stamped piece of paper. If it is relevant to the job then along with experience the interview etc, can be used as a guide to judge if the applicant is suitable for the job.

        At the beginning of your career a relevant degree (or other suitable qualifications) is important that’s what gets the interview. Hell my degree alone virtually got me my first job (27 years ago), I know because I was told so after a few months employment.

        I was lucky it looked like my degree was created for that job. The job needed programming passing data through computer models and displaying it in a map form it also included satellite data. They were looking for a computer science graduate who they would then have to train up on the mapping side and tools like Arc Info. They could not believe it when I turned up with a Major in Computer Science and a Minor in Mapping Science and a dissertation using neural networks on satellite data.

        As I said if a degree is relevant it is a guide to the suitability of the candidate along with all the other info such as experience and interview.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: stamped piece of paper?

          A young friend did a computing degree. He was sufficiently outstanding that Microsoft gave him an award. When he applied for a job at a large IT company - they fronted the applications with a web based qualifier. He filled it in honestly - and found that his middle school (GCSE) exam results weren't good enough for the rigid criteria.

          He was eventually very selectively picked off by a recruiting agency for a prestigious IT company who valued his talent alongside his degree.

  9. Michael B.

    They used to be good.

    It's a shame as on the old Microsoft Virtual Academy they used to have some excellent fundamentals courses. I did an excellent one on Machine Learning that had some contact with Azure but was all about the fundamentals first and using it on Azure came a long way in second.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: They used to be good.

      I found the same, the MVA courses were much more "real world" than the exams ever were, or at least the ones I used (mostly Office 365) were.

  10. bigtreeman

    It's what M$ does

    It's just what they have always done.

    M$ don't want old software supported,

    they want support for the new kit they are selling.

    They want support organisations talking about the new kit being just what the clients need.

    A constant cycle of upgrading and sales.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The certs do matter

    A colleague of mine who is very very proficient in Azure and AWS is unable to find another job in either of those precisely because he doesn't have the certs.

    Sod the fact he's been working on the platforms for 2 years non-stop...... No 'paper', you're not coming in to play........

  12. TonyJ Silver badge

    It isn't just MS though

    You can pick pretty much any vendor and they will shift the goalposts over what constitutes a "current" certification.

    After all, if they don't do this then no one ever has to refresh and they lose revenue.

    And I've said it before but it's always the same process: partner/reseller really do not care. Gold/Platium/Whatever level of partnership renewal is looming and Vendor X now says "but you need Y number of people 'qualified' to Z level" and there's a sudden rush to find people who they think can and will pass quickly to meet this artificial criteria.

    Rinse and repeat next time.

    I cannot remember the last time, beyond relatively entry-level roles, where there was a genuine insistence on a candidate holding a specific vendor certification.

    They are and always have been a way to increase revenue. They never have tested an individual's real world knowledge.

    And it is even worse nowadays because there is so much out there. Nowhere of any real large (enterprise) scale is purely MS this, or Linux that, really - I guess there will be outliers somewhere but they will be the exception not the rule - so this whole blinkered "using only our technology to perform this function is just short-sighted, false, bollocks and MS are probably one of the worst at it.

    I've personally found it far easier and more efficient to keep my skills up to date by having my own lab to include things like my own Azure tenant and I am sure most people find the same is true of e.g. AWS etc.

    And I admit it's been a long time since I sat an MS exam (MCSE + Messaging!) but back then it was almost trivial. Four possible answers: Two are clearly wrong. One is possible. One mentions the latest and greatest idea/concept from MS... pick that one.

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