The New MCSE: Is it the same as the Old?

By Michael Aldridge In 1998, when I started my first “real” IT job, I decided to pursue the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). The first step was to become Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). But what does the MCP title actually mean? Passing any Microsoft exam would allow you to become an Microsoft Certified Professional. A developer, a database administrator, or a server administrator could all be able to obtain the same generic MCP certificate. Many techs and HR managers were frustrated by this lack of specificity. Instead, techs focused their efforts on a certification that showed employers what skills they had. The MCSE certification was the right one for server administrators.
We knew what it took for an MCSE to be successful and what an MCSE could accomplish. Even better, employers and managers believed that an MCSE could manage a Windows NT-based domain. An MCSE is a proof that you are a professional. Respect was earned by the MCSE certification.
Microsoft eventually introduced the Windows 2000 exam track to the MCSE. Microsoft threatened to withdraw the MCSE credential from those who had taken the NT Server 4.0 exams but did not upgrade. Microsoft listened to the concerns and created the “MCSE for Windows NT 4.0” designation. Microsoft later created the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification (MCSA) as a stepping stone for the MCSE.
Fast forward to a few decades ago, when Microsoft announced the MCSA/MCSE certifications would no longer be available for Windows Server 2003 tracks. Instead, the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional certifications would be available for the Windows Server 2008 tracks.
Many speculated about the reason Microsoft dropped the acronym for its well-known flagship certification. Some speculated that the change was due to pressure from countries that regulate the title of “Engineer” and require that those who hold this title adhere to certain standards. This may be a valid reason to change the acronym. But why didn’t Microsoft just change the E in MCSE so that it meant “Expert” instead? readers suggested this exact solution in 2001.
Some speculated that the MCSE was becoming less valuable in the eyes tech professionals and employers due to the proliferation of braindumps. These are illegally compiled questions taken from the live exam that allow people to cheat their way into a certification. If this were true why didn’t Microsoft take a stronger stance against braindump vendors or people using braindumps to cheat?
Others believed that the MCITP and MCTS certifications would solve the “generic MCP problem” by adding designations for each title. These designations would also allow Microsoft to create tracks that highlight the specific skills of a certified person. This led to certification bloat. There are currently a staggering 59 MCTS certifications, and 15 MCITP certificates. It is a confusing mess. What is the difference between an MCITP Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 versus an MCITP Enterprise Desktop Administrator? How can HR managers expect techs to figure it out if they have trouble understanding? Is it possible that we are back to the question of “What does an MCTS or MCITP really mean?”
It took us six years to get used these new titles. In a similar fashion, IT and HR managers have also adapted to the new designations. We have learned which MCITP tracks to pursue and have worked hard to conquer them. We have accepted that the MCSA/MCSE will not be possible at some point.
Until now.
Microsoft announced its intention to launch a new website on April 11, 2012.

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