Over the weekend I received the email below.
We are contacting you to let you know we are making a change to the Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, and Microsoft Certified Architect certifications. As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program. Microsoft will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013. The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry to determine if there’s a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our program.
As a Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, or Microsoft Certified Architect, you have earned one of the highest certifications available through the Microsoft Certification program. Although individuals will no longer be able to earn these certifications, you will continue to hold the credential and you will not be required to recertify your credential in the future. You will continue to have access to the logos through the MCP site, and your certifications will continue to show in the appropriate section of your transcript, according to Microsoft technology retirement dates. If you are a Charter Member, you will continue to hold the Charter Member designation on your transcript.
Also as a Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, or Microsoft Certified Architect, you are a member of an exclusive, highly technical community and you’ve told us this community is one of the biggest benefits of your certification. We encourage you to stay connected with your peers through the main community distribution lists. Although we won’t be adding more people to this community, you continue to be a valued member of it. Over time, Microsoft plans to transition the distribution lists to the community, and, with your consent, will include your information so that it can continue to be a valuable resource for your ongoing technical discussions.
Within the coming weeks, you will receive invitations to an updated community site. This community site will require you to sign in with a Microsoft Account and will replace the need for a Microsoft Partner account as is required today. From this site, you will be able to manage service requests for the Masters and Architects communities – such as ordering welcome kits and managing your contact information for the distribution lists and directory – and accessing training rotation and other community content (if applicable).
If you have not ordered your Welcome Kit, the last day to do so is October 31, 2013. To order your Welcome Kit, please contact the Advanced Cert team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you for your commitment to Microsoft technologies.
This has been a huge announcement and has caused quite a bit of anger within the community. I responded directly to the group, and below are my comments.
In addition, my thoughts on this are below.
I started my career working on Microsoft products in 1999. Since then Microsoft certification has been something that I felt was important in advancing my career. I quickly noticed how there are a lot of people out there that just pass the tests at Prometric using a “brain-dump”. My dissatisfaction started when I heard about the initial changes to the program allowing for the knowledge exam to be taken at Prometric for that very reason. The MCM/MCSM program is completely different. It eliminated those issues by requiring the 3 week onsite training. The controlled Lab/Knowledge exam was something where it was impossible for those who were just paper certified to take and obtain.
From a career perspective this is one of the biggest accomplishments I have ever achieved. Understanding that it was a low pass rate. That was actually a good thing. The cost was something where if you worked for a company that was willing to pay for it you knew you were working with a great partner. It was how I judged who I would decide to work for, or who I worked for at the time. Were they interested in sending people to MCM/MCSM? How many Masters did they have on staff?
From a customer perspective MCM is something that was used to validate the Microsoft expertise on staff. This typically would be the reason why a partner that had the expertise of an MCM on staff won business. It would also provide a reason for partners that did not have this luxury to strongly consider it. It demands higher rates as mentioned by Mike, as well as an elite community where the MCM designation on our LinkedIn profiles provide endless career opportunities even if we are not interested. The industry views this program as the elite and most reputable program out there and that is shown by the demand or individuals that have achieved it. MCM’s also drive more attendance to local user groups instead of just a standard consultant. Without the MCM/MCSM program we will no longer have a career path for new employees and a goal for MCM/MCSM achievement. We will be back to looking for the brain-dump MCSE’s.
The information gathered at MCM is information that you cannot get anywhere else. The information provided in the end has assisted in many successful deployments and quicker resolution to problems that if it were not for the training I received the customer would have had an experience that would have been sub-optimal. The deep dives into the product are what customers want in a consultant. Without this program our customers are going to sacrifice quality and that is going to directly affect the sales associated with all products.
The last point I want make is that the MCM/MVP’s are the elite of the community. To be completely honest we sell more Lync then dedicated sales professionals. If it were not for us Microsoft would not be celebrating the 1-billion dollar Lync achievement. Most of us have high traffic blogs and some of the motivation for those blogs posts is because we are MCM/MVP’s and are viewed as the folks that everyone look for in the community to step up and provide product expertise and leadership.
I strongly encourage all that have the power to reverse this decision to do so swiftly. There is not a positive outcome for the cancellation of the program. It is either all downhill from here or we can reverse course prior to the end of the road.
The way this was presented to the community is a disaster as well. An email in the middle of the night, over a holiday weekend. Without prior consultation with the community really is a completely different problem. I would also strongly encourage the decision maker to be on the community call tomorrow to answer questions directly and provide a resolution to this situation.
In conclusion the call that was going to happen today has just been cancelled. Very disappointing.