BREAKING NEWS:

By Michael Domingo, MCPmag.com Editor

Minneapolis, Minnesota -- Changes are afoot in the Microsoft
Certification Program that can be labeled as "evolutionary"; that
is, changes to the certification process will be implemented over
time, as newer technologies become generally available.

The first of those changes will occur among the SQL Server and
Visual Studio products, which are planned for a major launch
event in San Francisco on November 7. Certification details for
those programs will be posted around September on the Microsoft
Certification Program Web site, according to Al Valvano, Microsoft
Learning Group Program Manager. Valvano provided details of the
revamped certification program plans during a Learning Solutions
Workshop at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis over
the weekend.

According to Valvano, Microsoft will follow tradition, releasing
exams for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 about 45
days after the release of the products to the general public.
Those exams, however, won't fit into the traditional MCP schema
that one might be familiar with. Instead, Microsoft will introduce
a new framework for certification that will pair up a credential
with a skill-identifying certification based on a tiered approach
consisting of the following credentials:

- Tier 1: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist will require
  simply passing one to three exams based on a Microsoft technology.
  As products meet the end of the support lifecycle, its related
  exam will be retired (the certification will not retire).
 
- Tier 2: Microsoft Certified IT Professional or Professional
  Developer require a Technology Specialist certification, plus
  one to three more exams, based on the requirement for a particular
  path. This tier is tied to job role at an organization, such as
  Database Developer or Business Intelligence. Recertification will
  be required to maintain status at this level.
 
- Tier 3: Microsoft Certified Architect is a rigorous, board-level
  certification that requires recertification. Achieving Technology
  Specialist or IT Professional or Professional Developer
  certification not a prerequisite to attaining this level of
  certification.

Details for the third tier, Microsoft Certified Architect, were
released back in April this year. (For more on the architect program,
see "Microsoft Previews Board-Level Certification at TechMentor" at
http://mcpmag.com/news/article.asp?EditorialsID=789 .)

Microsoft is still hammering away at the details for the first two
tiers, but Valvano provided a generous amount of what the group has
developed thus far, via a presentation that diagrammed the new
framework. It's obvious that the new program differs significantly
from the current program.

How changes in the SQL Server and Visual Studio versions of the
program will trickle down to the rest of the program, particularly
in the MCSA and MCSE credentials, can only be a guess and Valvano
didn't offer up any clues through the presentation, only showing that
most of the information is 'to be decided.'

To read the rest of the article, go to
http://mcpmag.com/news/article.asp?EditorialsID=821 .


Michael Domingo is MCPmag.com's managing editor. You can reach him
at mdomingo@101com.com.