Lifecycle of new generation certifications

Hi. It's me, Trika. One of the selling points of the "new generation" certification program we keep harping about is currency. In a nutshell, the intent of the new program is that an employer or project manager can look at your Microsoft certification and know you are up on a specific Microsoft release and/or role best practices. The idea here is to increase the value of your certifications in the market. How that works in the new generation is via lifecycle policies. These policies--basically a retire date for technology certs and a refresh/update requirement for professional-series certs--will first come in to affect a little less than two years from now*. In the meantime, I know there are a lot of questions about how this will go down (Stan? Geoff? Andy? Leonardo? you know who you are...). Check out the verbose summary, below.

Your thoughts? 

If you're not sure what I'm talking about when I say 'new generation certification,' you can read about it here or watch the first 15 minutes of this presentation to get the 411.


Lifecycle Policies for New Generation Certifications

The “new generation” series of certifications--Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)--have lifecycle policies to ensure confidence in Microsoft Certification as an indicator of up-to-date, relevant skills on current Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications will be retired when Microsoft discontinues mainstream support for the technology.

In general, mainstream support stops after 7-10 years from the product’s initial release; at this same point your MCTS certification will retire. Example: Your MCTS: Exchange Server 2007, earned in 2007, might be retired in 2016. Support lifecycle information can be found here: When your MCTS retires, it will no longer show on your transcript and you will not be able to create or use the logo. All related exams will remain on your transcript as PASSED.

Professional-series credentials (MCITP and MCPD) will require an update every three years from the date you earned the certification or your certification will lapse.

The update requirements will consist of a one-exam refresh path. The refresh exam could happen in two ways: 1) take and pass a new MCTS exam that supports your professional-series certification or 2) take and pass a professional-series exam specifically designed for the refresh process. In this case, you would earn the latest, related MCTS and maintain your professional series credential through this one exam. If you do not refresh your MCITP/MCPD in the correct time period, your certification will no longer show on your transcript and you will not be able to create or use the logo. All related exams will remain on your transcript as PASSED.


Why the retirement policy for certifications? The number one reason is to ensure confidence in Microsoft Certification as an indicator of up-to-date, relevant skills on current Microsoft technologies. Hiring managers must have confidence that someone who holds a Microsoft Certification is current and engaged with Microsoft, even if they themselves are not experts on each credential or certification.

Are you going to start retiring or requiring action for any of the existing credentials (MCDST, MCP, MCSE, MCAD, etc)? No. These new policies only apply to the MCTS, MCITP, and MCPD credentials, the “new generation” of certification. There are no plans to retire any of our existing credentials, nor will an update be required.

What if I miss the three year window to refresh my certification; can I still reinstate my certification or will I need to start over? Details are to be determined but most likely  if you have not refreshed your certification within the three-year window, your certification will remain in our system as “lapsed” for a grace period of one year, during which you can reinstate your certification with the refresh path of one exam. After the one-year grace period you would need to begin your certification path from the beginning.

Will there be a “retired” certifications section on the transcript? We recognize that showing your “track record,” including older or obsolete certifications, can be helpful to show a commitment to learn and stay up to date over time. We are considering the possibility of a “retired” section or “lapsed” status indicators in our transcript.

What if three years passes and Microsoft hasn’t released a newer version of the product, so there is nothing that needs to be refreshed? Will I still have to take an exam to keep my certification? The three year requirement is based on best practices and experience showing that major technology, job-role, and/or technology best practices go through significant updates within three-year periods.

My company isn’t working on the “latest” technology from Microsoft-we are using the last version (or first version!) software. So why would you retire the certification that makes sense for me? The new generation framework is specifically focused on current technologies from Microsoft. The lifecycle of the MCTS, showing release-specific skills, takes in to account the need for skills on older releases with a lifecycle tied to technology support.

Could a refresh exam just be taking the same professional-series exam over again? No.

What will the refresh exam cost? Regular exam price.

How will the refresh policy affect the Retake Policy? The refresh exam will be a new exam number and different or updated content; it will not be the exact same exam.

How will we know when a refresh is required to keep our certification up to date? Details are to be determined but most likely Microsoft will alert you via the MCP site (your transcript or certification planner), the MCP newsletter, and/or a direct e-mail to explain the timeline and options.

* First refresh requirements will come in to play for early adopters of the SQL Server 2005 MCITP and Visual Studio 2005 MCPD certifications that became available in early/mid-2006. 

Comments (47)
  1. Alan Andrew Dias says:

    I answered the 70-553 and 70-554 exams and expected my MCSD title to be upgraded to MCPD Enterprise Developer.

    I was surprised to see that the exams showed up in the transcript but the Title was not updated. I called up the Regional Service Center for South East Asia and she told me that it would take 2 months to update as there is a bug in the Certification system.

    Now I am asked to proved that I took the two exams despite the fact that they show up in my transcript.

    Perhaps the new certifications may be relevant but if they take 2 months to update … I fail to see the relevance.

  2. Allan Jacobs says:

    The retirement of the stale MCTS certs after lifecycle support seems a wise move.  Really old technology need not appear as new. However, the update of the Professional certifications will present a massive challenge that I expect will result in "NT4 MCSE retirement-like" pushback.  I suppose that we’ll have to see how the refresh exams play out.  I think the SQL 2005 early adopters (fortunately for me I’m not one) will be some trouble in this regard.  Lot’s of luck in dealing with them.

  3. Microsoft Certification’s future lifecycle

  4. Stephen Rea says:

    I don’t know so much as I have a problem with the new life cycle, I think its a great idea since MS is one of the last to do so, but I must admit I have a huge problem with the newest MSL mistake.

    When you are able to speak about it Trika I’d love to hear your opinion about the new change to testing providers. I think MSL has flipped its lid on this one.


  5. Boris says:

    Just got a job in Fortune 500 company. It have NDS, Lotus Notes 6.5 and W2K (not W2K3) AD. Hard thinking on should I take 70-296 or not. And by the way I afraid if I start W2K8 track, the exams will expire before I will get the system for production…

    And BTW my brand new Dell loaded with W2K Pro…

  6. Yo It's Me says:

    In the LiveMeeting you linked to, the numbers of certified people with MCSA/SE 2000 outnumber those certified with MCSA/SE 2003 by a factor of 3 ( Yet a survey of the certifications held by those viewing the LiveMeeting and a few other LiveMeetings I’ve seen show 2003 certified people outnumber 2000 certified people by a factor of 3.

    Who’s right? Can you update the figures on that webpage? It’d be cool to have more stats like Cisco does ( like those with multiple certs. Looks like people are going to wait ages before updating their certs to MCITP if it’s going to expire before they even get that much hands on experience with Server 2008/Exchange 2007 in a production environment.

  7. Larry West MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS x5, etc. says:

    One ironic thing about certs expiring is the fact that people first get certified in their strongest expertise, and then move on from there to their not-as-strong areas. However, their strongest area certification will expire first, then their weaker ones.

    Personally, I think the MCPD and MCITP should be product-limited, like the MCTS is.

    As I said in your one-in-1433 poast:

    How hard would it be for someone at Microsoft to write a trigger that would poll the certified professional database and update the numbers on a regular (even nightly) basis? Surely, someone at Microsoft knows how to do it!

    I agree with the others that the breakdowns should be included.

    I am also curious as to how many people besides myself have the MCPD, MCITP, and MCTS (multiple certifications).

  8. Guy says:


    I’m certainly in favour of expiring credencials. I’m fed up of seeing all these "MCSE" candidates who qualified on NT4 and haven’t even touched Active Directory before…

    As for renewal of exams, I’d encourage an incentive for candidates to retake. let them stick an extra bit on their credencial to show they’ve devoted the time to keep current with technology.

    So, for example, if you retake, you could be an MCTS+ or MCTS++ !!

    What do you reckon?!?

  9. hartplaza says:

    I don’t fully agree with Guy.

    I work in an area where NT4.0 is still in production. Our lifecycle of product is far longer then regular.

    I also think it’s a good idea to be able to show your history. Showing all passed credentials shows your interest and capability to study. It also tells your interest in the products (showing when you did wich exam, or upgrade to a new product). Besides, telling you are an MCSE NT4.0 does say you do NOT know Active Directory (being not a part of NT4.0). It is the responsible of the company (where you apply for a job) to ask what kind of MCSE (or MCSA) you are, and wich "specialisation" you have. It will als say on your transcript.

  10. Daniel says:

    Hello Trika,

    Retiring Professional Exams is realy a great thing, that Microsoft should have introduced a long time ago!

    Btw: I know it’s a bit out of topic. But what’s about the rumors that Pearson VUE will stop providing new MS Exams by September 2007:

    When will Microsoft provide an official statement?



  11. Bob G. says:

    The public statement to drop VUE on their DUMB ASS will come within the next few weeks. Announcements to partners will occur next week.

  12. hartplaza says:

    Since people spent lot of time (and money) in working for certain certification, it is really not fair to them to retire these certifications. There should realy be some way to show your old credentials you worked for (and invested in) in the passed.

    Besides, I happens to work for a company that still has NT4.0 in place (due to long product lifecycles).

    So, retiring old certification is one thing, but showing your history is an other thing. I really hope Microsoft will come up with a solution to be able to keep showing gained certification in the passed.

    It also tells something about the engineer, keeping up her/his certification and product knowledge (in the passed) and motivation on doing Microsoft Exams to keep up knowledge on  new technologies.

  13. Andy (ajs1976) says:

    Thanks for the information.  That helps a lot.

    How about my other comments?

    – Retirement of 292/296 with the Windows 2000 exams and not at a later date.

    – Intermediate certification that falls between the MCITP and the MCA

    – Some type of Security MCITP to replace the MCSA:Security and the MCSE:Security paths.

    I’m hoping we get a good explanation of why Vue was dropped as a provider and not some high level BS about how Prometric is the best provider and now the certification group can do some nifty things by focusing with one provider.  That was the line I got from Citrix for the last couple of years when they only offered exams from Prometric.  Recently, they started offering exams through Vue also.  

    Thanks again

  14. Jonathan says:

    I think this is a good thing, and I am on the losing end of this deal as well. I am an MCSE in Win2k, and I am tired of being compared to NT 4.0 MCSE’s.

    For everyone who doesn’t like it, you have two choices: cry and whine, and lose out, or COWBOY UP!!!!

  15. ..:: Brian ::.. says:

    Where do these uneducated people hang around who keep confusing MCSE NT 4.0 with MCSE 2000 or MCSE 2003?

    And also I must ask where on Earth does ‘Guy’ work where he is posessed to be "fed up of seeing all these "MCSE" candidates who qualified on NT4 and haven’t even touched Active Directory before…" perhaps he entered a time machine or something…

  16. Iain says:

    "The refresh exam could happen in two ways: 1) take and pass a new MCTS exam that supports your professional-series certification or 2) take and pass a professional-series exam specifically designed for the refresh process."

    This is great idea, having the two options.

    I recently passed my MCPD: Web Apps.

    So to refresh that, it makes sense that I could complete the updates to the MCPD pre-requisites (probably along the lines of MCTS: LINQ related).

    This enables me to focus on the new underlying technologies, rather than unnecessarily repeating the overall/high level concepts covered in the MCPD exam.

    Looks like the MCPDs are one of the first to require refresh (.NET is flying through the versions!) so we’ll see how it goes!

    Ps. Having the official training kits released within a year of the new exams would be good too!  😉

  17. Lukas Beeler says:

    <a href="">I‘ve written about the drop of Pearson Vue<a>.

    There is now confirmation from Prometric of this move, but i haven’t seen anything official yet.

  18. Leonardo says:

    Thanks for the info trika…i am currently mcse..i dont think i will have any 2008 systems to work on in my area for now, as most customers here still running 2k systems….

  19. Mike says:

    I’ll second Andy’s request for thoughts on an intermediate certification between MCITP/MCPD and MCA.

    I feel there’s a large gap there especially since the MCA Ranger options aren’t open to non MS Partners (and cost a king’s ransom to boot).

  20. Stan Segers says:

    Thanks for keeping the exam-history on the transcript and considering doing the same with retired certifications (in some form), greatly appreciated. I do have some practical reservation though on fixing the three year interval for professional level certifications. Though I think three years is a good interval guideline, we still depend on the release schedules of the products/technologies. Isn’t MSL shooting itself in the foot by having to create a professional update exam in scenarios where the new product will be available just a few months later? Wouldn’t it be better to channel those resources into the MCTS exam (starting its beta at product release)?

    Another question is about the number of exams for MCTS, in the proposed policy I read about taking a MCTS exam supporting the professional level certification. How does this mix with multi exam MCTS certifications (like the current developer certifications)? Will there only be one exam in all future MCTS certifications or can we chose any of the exams in a new MCTS to fulfill the upgrade requirement for the professional level certification and at the same time upgrade the underlying MCTS?

  21. tomax7 says:

    …why doesn’t Microsoft just make seperate designations for the MCSE?

    Like MCSE for NT4, MCSE2 for W2K, and MCSE3 for W2K3.  Heck even the last number jives with the OS version.

    You go to College or University graduate and get a BA or BSc inital behind your name.  That can be used for a lifetime.  

    Surley things have changed over the years (DOH) but you don’t loose the priviledge of using those initals.

    But IT is different.  Lifespans are 8 years maybe, but still shows the depth of the person who may hold older certifications.

  22. tjcasser says:

    I think, not surprisingly, this is a bad move.

    For starters, Sun flirted with this a few years back, putting into place a regime where the certifications expired after two years.  What they ran into was the system-lifespan issue mentioned by another user above – folks weren’t migrating to the newest technology as quickly as (in this case) Sun expected.  So it makes more sense to simply version-lock the exam (your credentials mention the version it corresponds to) rather than expiring it, and in fact, that’s what Sun did.

    Second… A full-fee refresher doesn’t sound like such a great bargain to me.  If it’s like the current structure where there is a one-exam upgrade, fine, but… I don’t know how I feel about paying that kind of money for an exam simply to show that I’m still up to date…

    Just my two cents, mind you.

  23. Looks like Microsoft is again revisiting the ol’ "let’s retire certifications" question with the upcoming MCITP exams for Server 2008. Read on for the update….

  24. Mike says:

    I’ve been thinking about this some more lately. I still think that retiring/recertifiying/refreshing/whatever you want to call it is, in general, a good idea. In the "old generation" of certifications this was automatic as the certifications were versioned.

    In the new generation, I can see the potential for mass confusion as the expiration date looms. For MCTS credentials, it will likely not be a large issue (example: You take and pass a TS exam on SQL Server 2005 – you have it until mainstream support retires. You can take a TS exam on SQL Server 2008 whenever you want and have that until maintstream support retires.)

    The issue I see is with MCPD/MCITP credentais. Let’s say, for example, that I earn my MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator cert this Novemember. This means I’ve taken…

    70-236: TS: Exchange 2007, Configuring

    70-237: PRO: Designing…, Exchange 2007

    70-238: PRO: Deploying…, Exchange 2007

    Now it’s three years later – November 2011. There will likely be a new version of Exchange out by now as well. My TS credential is fine, but what about my MCITP? The two exams I took to earn it are "keyed" to Exchange 2007, even though my title is not. What happens when Exchange 2007 support ends? Will the recertification exam extend

    The same holds true for SQL Server 2005. The title is MCITP: Database Administrator, but the PRO exams are "keyed" to SQL Server 2005.

    For comparison’s sake, Cisco also requires recertification every three years, but their program is pyramid-style (similar to the MS old generation with MCSE at the top). Example: You have your CCNA (associate level) and are working on your CCNP (professional level). Three years is coming up, but that’s okay – when you advance to the professional level all associate level certs are renewed.

    Anyway, I know Trika & Co. have until early 2009 before the early MCITP/MCPD adopters will come up against this policy, so I’m sure it will be resolved before then. These are just some of my thoughts right this second.

  25. says:

    Hi, Mike. Thanks.

  26. Mike says:

    What would we do without you, Trika? Thanks for continuing to listen to us blather on… 🙂

  27. Stan Segers says:


    I can’t speak for Exchange, but I check what’s on my transcript for SQL Server (2005). I hope the copy/paste this doesn’t get to garbled:


    Credential Certification / Version  Date Achieved

    Microsoft Certified IT Professional   Oct 27, 2006

     Database Administrator  Oct 27, 2006

    Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist   Jan 25, 2006

     SQL Server 2005  Jan 25, 2006


    See, the MCITP is not "version-tagged". I still see the opportunity for MSL to shoot itself in the foot with the 3-year term, rather than tying it to the product release schedules.

  28. Grace says:

    I’v just passed the 70-536 exam on 21st July but i  haven’t got the MCP ID till now (27th July) .

    so what should i do ?

  29. David Marsh says:

    I think this is a very bad idea and yes I have witnessed Sun remove their recertification requirement. I hold 5 Sun certifications that were hard earned over 2 years of evenings studying and were self financed. Why should I lose them after a set period of time ? As an architect and developer I am expected to know MANY technologies, I may need to ensure SOAP interop between .Net and Java, I may need to rewrite C++ COM/DCOM code in .Net, I may need to know various databases and middleware.

    The technology list is endless, requiring recertification on these techs will result in a life reminescent of Ground Hog Day !

    Nearly all cert programs, certainly the dev ones I know only cover basic use, to be a true practitioner you will need to know a LOT more, this will always be the case, its myopic to expect people to only use the latest microsoft tech and recertify the same fundamentals every three years.

    As has been stated my Degree lasts for life, why not my certs ? They only prove a basic level of competence, the rest is down to the interviewer to deduce !

    As for the MCA thats an even bigger joke, $10,000 to find if someone likes the way I come across in an interview ?

  30. Hello. Apparently, even with YT out of the office, people were still able to accomplish things at MIcrosoft.

  31. JP says:

    Quoting from above

    "If you do not refresh your MCITP or MCPD in the stated time period, your certification no longer appears on your transcript, and you cannot create or use the logo. "

    Why Expire MCPD /MCTS? Why doesn’t Microsoft assign  a version number say MCPD Web Developer .NET 2.0 and keep them on the Transcript?

    For MCTS, it already has the Framework Number "MCTS .NET Framework 2.0 Web application".. so why retire them? Is MS thinking of recycling framework numbers ? 😀

    I feel that if you have spent time and energy on getting yourself certified , it should be on your transcript for eternity.Could be out of date , but shouldn’t disappear.Totally agree with David Marsh where he says "your degree lasts for life,why not my certs"

    This is a totally myopic approach. Hope some one at MS is listening and decides to change this policy

  32. Salaam says:

    My resume as well as my transcript should reflect all of my certifications, including certification dates and product versions.  

    Pardon me Microsoft (and Trika), but this is the biggest no-brainer since sliced bread.

    But after reading your online Q&A, etc., I am convinced that Microsoft is not really interested in assisting employers to ascertain technical credentials, but rather is interesting in creating a new profit center.

    Even technically brainless hiring managers should be able to distinguish between say a MCSE-W2000 and MCSE-2003 certification.  If not, I see no possibility in you helping the hiring manager!

    So, in conclusion, the transcript is a record of what one has accomplished.  Use versioning and show everything!

    If you, Microsoft, fail to do this, less people will become certified over time, and your products will look as if students are not interested in studying them, becase many will opt for RedHat and Cisco and Java certs.

  33. Alice says:

    "So, in conclusion, the transcript is a record of what one has accomplished.  Use versioning and show everything!"

    I agree. Bravo to Salaam, JP, and David!

  34. ToBeMCSTorNotToBe says:

    I am also convinced that Microsoft is not really interested in assisting employers to ascertain technical credentials, but rather is interesting in creating a new profit center.

    Well said Salaam, JP and David!

  35. MCPDToBe says:

    I am working towards the MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer but the thought of having my hard-earned credentials retired in just 3 years unless I pay for and take another exam is more than a little discouraging. Whilst I understand the need for certifications to reflect up-to-date skills in the relevant technologies, I agree with a few of the comments made here that advocate for versioning of the credentials so prospective employers will know right off what your MCPD really means.

  36. Microsoft revamping MCSE? says:


    I was wondering if Microsoft will be revamping MCSE, when will this occur? I lack 4 exam to become MCSE,should I continue taking the 4 exam to get my MCSE or this will be no good for me to take the MCSE and waste of time, money? please advise

  37. Nick Masao says:

    I think Microsoft is doing it from a business prospective, because people have to pay fully for the refresher exams and thats why they are forcing to retire the certs.In time I think people will just give up and move on to java or something else that doesn’t expire in just 3yrs.Some people might lack the time to study for the exams due to circumstances in life.I am in Africa, studying for a MCPD , and I gotta tell you, its not easy.They should reconsider.Please.

  38. P.K. says:


    I’m MCSD and MCAD for Microsoft.Net

    How many exams i will need to upgrade these certification to MCPD 3.5?


  39. B.H.P says:


    I’m MCSD and MCAD for Microsoft.Net

    Can i get MCPD 2 after the new certification (MCPD 3.5) released?

  40. Microsoft certifications for new technologies–in the MCTS, MCPD, MCITP format–will retire when Microsoft

  41. Microsoft certifications for new technologies–in the MCTS, MCPD, MCITP format–will retire when Microsoft

  42. Robert says:

    I just checked the "mainstream retire date" for .NET 2.0,

    and according to this URL it is going to retire in 2011.  This is 5 years and 2 months after it was released.  This is almost 2 years before you stated the 7-10 years after its initial release.  Is this just specific to .NET 2.0 because we have conflicting information somewhere.

  43. Robert says:

    This also means .NET Framework 1.1 certifications will end 10/2008 according to this link:

    which is 5 years and 3 months after its initial release.

  44. says:

    Dear Robert,

    You are right! I will stop using my 7-10 year estimate.


  45. Steve Satterfield says:

    Expiring the exams when mainstream support ends would mean that a lot of companies may not have even implemented the technology before it is mainstream support ends. Example Windows Server 2008 mainstream support ends July 9, 2013, less than 5 years from now. After a couple more years why would anyone certify on 2008 knowing the certification will be retired from their trancript in less then 3 years. I would understand if it was retired when extended support ended. Microsoft will have a span of time between July 9, 2013 and July 10, 2018, extended support timeline, when no one will have a 2008 certification because everyones certification will have retired July 9, 2013. I would like for someone to explain this logic. I do take the certs when they first come out. I have a charter on Vista. I’m about ready to take the upgrade 60-649 upgrade exam. I’m taking the 70-113 just for the practice and input.

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