Windows Forms for .NET 3.5? What are We Thinking?

Yes, the question was asked, I answered it, but I thought others might want to know just what we were thinking when we created an exam for Windows Forms on .NET 3.5.

I mean, wasn’t WPF supposed to be the replacement technology for developing Windows applications in 3.0 and onward of the .NET Framework?  Well, wasn’t it?  In my humble opinion, no. 

Let’s face it, at this time in the corporate world, not every PC is capable of running Vista and not every PC is capable of running WPF apps.  Silverlight yes, WPF no.  Also, how many of you develop apps for servers and not the client?  Are these all service based applications with no UI?  Not likely.  Do server apps need to have WPF content?  Not on my servers they don’t.

So, Windows Forms technologies still exist and applications are still being written using that technology.  For those of you who are already certified, would you upgrade to Windows Forms 3.5?  Maybe not.  Some will, some won’t.  But, what about the new developer or new to certification developer who seeks to prove their development skills with a certification?  They want to be certified on the latest version.  Wouldn’t you?  Of course you would.

So, imagine being that person and looking on the Microsoft certification web site and finding out that Windows Forms certification is only offered for version 2.0 of the .NET Framework.  How would you feel?  Left out?  Upset?  Turned away? 

Now perhaps, you can understand my rationale and thought process.

Will this be the same for .NET 4.0 and the next version of Visual Studio?  I don’t have those answers yet but I can tell you that the landscape will change somewhat.  Even internally to Microsoft, I don’t have all the feature sets and directions for down yet.  There is a lot to consider and that is part of our planning process.  Getting to know the product features, what’s new and how it will impact the industry.

We will be working hand-in-hand with the folks in Visual Studio and the .NET Framework to hammer out the details and lay down a plan based on target audiences and product features.  As always, we intend our certifications to be real world relevant in the coverage so we will be coming back to you, the developer community for help in the exam designs and development.

By the way, does anyone know of any good code samples for creating a sandbox to host Visual Studio in?  I’m also working, in my own mind at this time, on the next generation of developer certifications using performance based testing.  More on this in tomorrow’s posting.

As always, comments and questions are welcome.



Comments (25)
  1. I understand your reasons for creating a Windows Forms 3.5 exam as described above except for the part where it is a requirement for MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 and MCPD: Windows Developer 3.5. I would be happy if the requirement was for passing the Windows Forms 3.5 OR Windows Forms 2.0 exam. On a related topic, I’m not sure I agree that a developer does not need to know ADO.NET/XML to get the MCPD: Windows or Web Developer 3.5 qualification. What applications don’t need data access and processing? Why is the new ADO.NET exam not a requirement for MCPD: Win/Web 3.5?

  2. Doug Rees says:

    I cant really see what would be different in the exam though seeing as it wont cover WPF, LINQ or anything else new. Therefore can I get a free upgrade from version 2.0 without sitting anything???? Or do I still have to pay for an exam resit that will prove I still know what I knew 2 years ago?


    Doug Rees

  3. Shawn says:

    Well that is all fine and good but why not have the choice? Why is it REQUIRED for Enterprise Application Developer 3.5? Why not have the option of WPF or Windows Forms?

    Some developers are going to skip that cert now because they wont want to finish the Windows Forms track.

  4. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for you comments.

    A Windows exam has been a requirement for the Enterprise developer credential since we first moved to the new generation of certifications.  Enterprise is meant to be the credential that says you can develop the client, both Web and Windows, the middle tier and backend aspects.

    We haven’t considered whether we could allow either 2.0 or 3.5 for this but from where I sit, it creates a much more complicated story around the certification requirements and makes it harder to consider version specific certifications.

    There is some data coverage on the Windows and ASP.NET exams but it is not in depth.  That is the purpose of the ADO.NET exam.  The reason we have 6 x TS certifications is so that you can show expertise in a specific area, as compared to a general knowledge in all areas.

    There is an organization known as ASHRAE.  The American Society of Hearing, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.  This is a very intelligent collection of engineers who spend their time researching the HVAC/R field and making recommendations and setting standards for that industry.  

    One of their findings through research is that when it comes to comfort, in a building or home, no matter what an HVAC/R technician does, they will never achieve a satisfaction rating beyond 80%.

    Although we don’t have a similar society that researches and makes recommendations around certifications, I think we are up against the same metrics.

    It’s a balancing act to plan and decide what will or will not be covered on these exams.  We defer to industry experts in our focus groups and cover what are deemed to be, by them, the most relevant and testable content for the exam we are targeting.

    Eventually, we may achieve a balance where everyone is happy, but I think that is a long time off yet.

    Having said all that, your comments are valid and respected and I can assure you that I take all feedback seriously and use it when making plans for the next set of exams.

    Keep the information coming.


  5. Hi Doug,

    The exam covers Windows Forms, not LINQ or WPF.  Those are on another exam.

    Can you get a free upgrade?  No.

    If you want to show certification on Windows Forms 3.5, you will need to pass exam 70-505.


  6. Hi Shawn,

    We have moved away from electives in the certification tracks.  Will we go back?  Not sure.

    Why can’t you choose?  It’s the way it is currently set up.  We will evaluate this for changes moving forward.


  7. Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for the quick response.

    I accept your point about getting 80% satisfaction. I have a suggestion that might increase it to 90%.

    How about emailing a voucher code to take exam 70-505 (WinForms 3.5) for free during the first three months of availability to everyone who has already passed exam 70-526 (WinForms 2.0)?

    That way you won’t have to complicate your rules but you will mollify the critics.

    Thanks for listening to us moan… 😉



  8. Chauncey says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I understand some of the arguments against allowing MCTS-WPF for MCPD-Windows 3.5 and MCPD-Enterprise 3.5. But my argument for allowing it as an option is that the future for windows is clearly WPF. Sure there may be some situations where WPF is not practical as it is a young technology. But Microsoft puts a lot of focus on new technologies which currently are VS2008, WPF, WCF, Silverlight etc. And I am also focusing a lot on WPF. I absolutely love it ! I hope that the certification authorities at least allow WPF as an option for prerequisites.



  9. Hi Mark,

    I had trouble getting your post to publish for some reason.  Not sure why but it’s there now.

    At any rate, we will discuss the possibility of making it easier for those on 2.0 to achieve the 3.5 Windows cert.  I am waiting at this point for validation on the new exam OD that we use to create the exam questions.  

    That will allow us to better understand the differences that the industry deems are important.  We may find the two exams are very similar at which time, we may look at something like a grandfather clause.

    No promises, but thanks for the feedback and suggestions.


  10. Hi Chauncy,

    I understand your passion for WPF and I too think it is an awesome technology.  I can’t create anything worth looking at in it, but that’s just me.  🙂

    We have considered it and as one of certification authorities, I am sorry to say that it won’t be considered an elective at this time.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, .NET 4.0 will change the landscape and at that time, you may see Windows Forms and the Windows certs as they exist today, change.

    Those decisions will come after more research into industry trends and how the technologies are being used in the world of software development.

    Stay tuned for the new stuff.  


  11. Bill says:

    One thing that I think would really help those of us that are already MCPD 2.0 is if the MCPD Windows Dev 4.0 (version next) cert allowed an upgrade from the 2.0/2005. Then we wouldnt need to waste time/money taking an upgrade test that basically contains the same content as we are already certified in.

  12. Richard says:

    Very disappointing that WPF cannot be substituted for the Windows Forms test.

  13. Birger says:

    Hi Gerry

    is this exam still on track to be released in August 2008 like it says on the MS Learning site? Or is there going to be a beta first?



    P.S. Still eagerly awaiting "tomorrow’s posting"…

  14. Hi Birger,

    ummm, no it may not be out in August.  We are determing whether this needs to go through a beta phase or not based on the number of items we are creating for this exam.

    Initially, it was thought we wouldn’t need to run a beta but its looking like we will.  As a result, the "current" scheduled release will not be until January of 2009 but I need to investigate why that is.  

    p.s. I have been terrible lately in getting posts on the blog, been busy but that shouldn’t be an excuse.  🙂


  15. Hi,

    I’m just curious, what’s the status on this issue? I’ve been taking other exams instead while waiting on this to seattle.

    Why should we have to wait for .NET 4.0 for WPF to be a part of the MCPD EntAppDev cert? Why can’t it be optional now? You haven’t really answered that question, and I saw several posts on it.

    You are talking about .NET 4.0, and the 3.5 Forms  exam isn’t even ready yet! Right now it’s now even possible to get a MCPD Enterprise 3.5, isn’t it time? The cert will get out of date before it was ever out!



  16. Ajden,

    The question has already been answered.  We will NOT allow WPF as an elective.  We have moved away from exlectives for exams and we will not be revisiting it.  The discussion on this is closed.

    The cert will not be out of date.  It will continue to be valid as long as you are using 3.5.


  17. Hi Gerry, thanks for answering.

    A follow up question, how come the forms exam isn’t ready yet? Feels like it should be the one most similar to the 2.0 exam. The date for when it will be out has been post boned several times. Why is that? I believe I’ve seen the dates change from aug to dec to jan to feb now.

    Meanwhile I’ve finished the ado, asp and wcf exam, and the forms exam is the only one left before the pro exam for the EntAppDev cert. That’s why I wondered if it couldn’t be replaced with the wpf exam instead, since it’s already out there (before the forms exam strangely enough).

  18. Hi Ajden,

    That’s actually a very good question.

    When we create out exams, we go through a design process that creates what is known as an OD or Objective Domain.  To give you an idea as to what it looks like, the prep guides are taken directly from the OD.

    When we set out to create the Windows Forms exam for .NET 3.5, we looked at the existing 2.0 exam to see if we could reuse the same design.  Unfortunately, there were significant enough "What’s New" changes in 3.5 that, based on our psychometric guidelines, it was deemed necessary to create a new exam.

    Add to the above reasons, the fact that some of our questions on the 2.0 exam have been compromised, and by that I mean placed on brain dump sites, and other questions have various other issues, we decided it was best in the interest of exam validity and customer satisfaction, to create a new exam.   This didn’t come until later in the project.  As a matter of fact, the original plan was to not have a Windows Forms exam.  My Product Manager and I both disgreed with that idea and brought the exam back to life.

    The delays are now mostly a result of holidays and bandwidth for various teams to get the final components assembled and placed onto the Prometric system.

    Hope that clarifies some of the items for you and helps to make more sense.

    Nice to see you have completed the other exams.  That’s a lot of work.  Congratulations!!


  19. Hi again Gerry,

    In that case I understand why it’s taking so long. Sad to hear that people actually use braindumps, measureup and selftest software are really good preparations for the actual exam.

    Anyhow, I have a last question (or 2 actually) to bug you with before I can leave this matter 🙂

    How sure is it that the Forms exam will be out 10/2-09? When will the pro exam for EntAppDev be out? Right now it says "soon". (I want to get the MCPD before the fiscal year is finished, for the annual salary revision :-))

    Merry Chrismas, happy new year!


  20. Hi Ajden,

    Here are the current dates that I am seeing in the project schedule.

    70-505 – Feb. 5, 2009

    70-565 – Feb. 23, 2009

    These are from the latest updates.


  21. I know you probably can’t devulge anything definite (assuming it’s even been decided), but IF the MCPD prereqs were to change to include a WPF route, when would a decision like that typically occur? You mentioned that .NET 4 and VS2010 might shake things up as far as the exams go… would the impact on exams be almost immediately or would it likely take a few months, many months, or even years? Thanks for anything you can offer.

  22. Hi Tim,

    Trying to catch an early glimpse of my cert plan I see.  🙂

    Actually without getting into specific details, there won’t be seperate Windows and WPF exams.  This should fix the problem that relates to using WPF for Pro exams.

    I will be able to formally announce our plan shortly.


  23. Thanks for the info Gerry! I think combining the 2 makes a lot more sense than a Winforms only route. Any idea if the current MCTS WPF cert will transfer and be a proper prereq once the new exams make it out? Thanks again!

  24. Hi again Tim,

    I doubt that we will go back and make any changes in the requirements for the 3.5 certs.

    Somebody else may decide we need to and we’ll discuss it at that time, but as of right now, it won’t change.


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