Microsoft Learning announces Prometric as exam provider


Microsoft Learning (my group) has some ambitious plans in the arena of increasing the value of Microsoft Certifications. I.e. keeping pace with Microsoft technology releases and the industry, looking at ways to improve your test-taking experience, and protecting the integrity of your certifications*.

In line with that, we have decided to partner with just one exam provider for delivery of our exams in the future—setting us up to improve your testing and certification experience. The change is that in the past we have worked with two partners—Pearson VUE and Prometric—and in the future we will be partnering with just Prometric. If you’re bothering to read my blog, you’re probably pretty familiar with one or both of these excellent organizations.

We have a policy of making big announcements to internal Microsoft people first, then to our closest business partners (i.e. the CPLS training partners and MCTs), before we make public announcements. So I know some of you have already heard this. But here is the announcement:

Microsoft Learning announces its decision to move forward with Prometric for delivery of its Microsoft professional certification and Microsoft Dynamics exams. Pearson VUE will discontinue selling Microsoft professional certification exams after August 31, 2007. To accommodate those who purchase Microsoft professional certification exams through August 31, Pearson VUE will continue to administer the exams through December 31, 2007. Pearson VUE will discontinue selling and administering Microsoft Dynamics exams after December 31, 2007. Additional details regarding this transition will follow over the next few months.


As usual, official announcements are impressively official and somewhat lacking in juicy details. I am kind of the opposite; I’m not particularly official and I’m a huge fan of J.D.s. In this case, however, there have been months and months of discussions, negotiations, meetings, and debate over this very big decision—and I wasn’t present for any of that, so I won’t espouse on all the ins and outs. Here are the bits I do know:

By working with one exam delivery partner, Microsoft Learning will be able to get more efficient–ultimately improving how things go for you when you’re working on a Microsoft Certification. In my understanding, this could mean that you’ll see things like faster roll-out of new testing technologies (maybe you’ve heard that our goal is to have simulations in every MCTS exam in the future?); a more consistent testing environment (i.e. security, comfort, equipment, moderating…); efficiencies in getting the exams we release (hundreds every year) to a test center near you; more efficient and integrated reporting of your records (this one is near and dear to my heart–perhaps it is to yours, too, if you’ve ever had to merge your records…); less complicated troubleshooting, and therefore faster resolution, of any reporting or testing issues (wait! this one is nearer and dearer to my heart… ).


For those of you who only take exams at Prometric today, there is no action required. For those of you who take Microsoft exams with Pearson VUE, you will (understandably) have lots of questions about how this will work. Microsoft Learning and Prometric will take every possible step to make sure that those of you who need to transition to Prometric for Microsoft testing will be taken care of.


Having said all that, I want to say clearly that this decision was not made lightly. Would it be too OT to add a personal note here? I will. Man! What a pleasure it has been to work with Pearson VUE. I know we’ll do great things with Prometric, and this decision has my support. But only half my heart! Thank you, friends at Pearson VUE. <edited 7/6 to stay slightly more on topic!> But back to business. This is a big change and it will affect many of you, all of us at Microsoft Learning, and, of course, the people we’ve been working with at both of our partners to deliver certification to you. Knowing that, there is a lot of work to be done to make this transition work for everyone. We will announce this in the MCP newsletter this month and we’ll be sharing more information on the transition as we have it. In the meantime, let us know if you have questions and we’ll get you the information you need.

*I say that a lot, and it occurs to me it might sound pretentious or, worse, like meaningless business-speak. What I mean by ‘protecting the integrity’ is making it harder for people to earn “paper MCSEs” and the like–to give people confidence that a Microsoft Certified professional has the skills and/or experience their credential says they do. 


Comments (226)

  1. Maksym Safronov says:

    Bad news. Very bad news. Very very bad news.

  2. hyperpixie says:

    I can tell you that I am really disappointed. I live in a rural area, and the closest Vue center to my home is 24 miles. But the closest Prometric center is over 55 miles. This will force my testing experience to take an entire day instead of just part of one. Why didn’t Microsoft consult with us about this decision? I understand that you guys can actually see the raw numbers about who is taking what where, but you need to consider all of us. Also, my experience with several Prometric centers (before I found this Vue center) is very bad. It is going to be really hard for me to make this transition. And I wonder if it will even be worth it. I may start looking to other certification vendors.

  3. gomcse2002 says:

    In my humble experience in Canada, VUE is doing far better than Prometric and I have no glue why Microsoft needs to switch to Prometric instead. I agree, this is absolutely very SAD SAD indeed.

  4. hartplaza says:

    Very bad news. I had a VUE test center around the corner. My closest Prometric center is 100 miles away,….. counting the time (and money) for travelling, I will probably skip certification as I do not need to certify. And the change to skip to other certification, which I can do at VUE is made a bit easier.

  5. Andy (ajs1976) says:

    The reasoning behind the change seems to be the same reasoning that Citrix used for a couple of years.  They recently added VUE as a second testing option.  It is odd that Microsoft made the opposite change shortly after the Citrix change.  Did anyone from MS Learning talk to their counterparts at Citrix Learning to get some inside scoop as to why Citrix changed from one provider to two?

    The test center I use offers both providers, so this change will not have much effect for me.  From I customer service point of view, I have prefer VUE.

    thanks for the info

  6. Andy (ajs1976) says:

    What is probably going to happen is either more Prometric centers will open or some VUE centers will switch to Prometric or either work with both providers.

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

    Prometric does not have enough testing centers in this area (only 5 in all of Kentucky and 6 in all of Indiana), and NONE of them are open on weekends. As an hourly employee, I now will lose money if I ever take another exam. They are very very very inconvenient.

    Plus, their testing center finder is based on states, which for someone near a border such as myself is a pain in the ass because I have to re-enter all the information (including country and the fact I want Microsoft) if I want to look at exam centers in another state.

    Pearson Vue let you look at the nearest 5, 10, or 20 sites, even multi-states – a much better initial experience, and a much better overall experience.

    I believe Microsoft made the wrong choice – if they had to stick with one provider, I wish it had been Pearson Vue.

    I’m not blaming you, Trika, but whomever made this decision has never been in the "real world" and/or did inadequate research as to how this would affect people. I wonder how much of a kickback he or she is getting from Prometric for this decision.

    Can Microsoft get some of the Prometric centers in the area to offer Saturday testings, and possible get some of the Pearson Vue centers to also offer Prometric?

  8. hartplaza says:

    Andy, I don’t think that many VUE providers are going to switch to Prometric (or provide both). A few years ago I used to work for a testing site, and they just changed from prometric to VUE. VUE is a lot better in many ways (compared to Prometric). Also for customers, VUE is a lot more convenient then Prometric, for customers and test providers.

  9. gomcse2002 says:

    For sure, I totally agree with Larry and hartplaza and I have to say that Microsoft is making the wrong choice this time. Hope someone will agree with me.

  10. Elias Mereb says:

    Same thing here, the closest testing center is 120 miles away! in other words…i have to take the entire day off, and pay for the travel expenses…(N)

  11. hyperpixie says:

    I just found out the closest Prometric center does not offer any Microsoft beta exams. So I will have to drive even farther for Betas. Now, I am GREATLY rethinking the whole recertification thing.

    I wondered if Microsoft anticipated these problems.

  12. Mike says:

    I’ll add my two cents as well here. The test center I go to offers both VUE and Prometric and I’ve tested using both delivery providers. Despite both being at the same location, I found the VUE administration and customer service to be far better than Prometric. Is MS going to light a fire under Prometric to get their act in order?

  13. Chance says:

    I can’t tell you just how stupid this move is.  It seems that here lately, MS has made some very bad business moves and I, like many of my fellow readers here and fellow MCPs, am having a very difficult time understanding the logic here.

    If Vue has been getting rave reviews from thos of us who use them and Prometric has found many different ways to damn themselves in the eyes of those of us who care enough about the technology to certify, then why in the blue 4377 (hell for you non-leetspeekers out there) not give Pearson Vue the opportunity.  I can pretty much guarantee that there is no way that Prometric can or ever will offer the service to us that Vue has.  

    Did you learn nothing from TechEd?  Did you not see that it was Vue that was busting their corporate hump to make sure that your beloved certification promotion went off without much of a hitch?  

    This is a very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very …gasp…..very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very stupid move in my opinion…and it’s one of many opinions that MS and their beloved certification program should take seriously when rethinking this decision.

    Besides, why is having 2 test providers a bad thing?

    This comes at a REALLY bad time for all of us who were actually considering an early adoption of the newer technologies.

    And did I mention that this is a very retarded move for MS?

  14. fortisism says:

    This is really sad fa real…i use prometric, but most pple i know use VUE….like my friends in trinidad they all use VUE…i agree with hyperpixie, microsoft should atleast hear what we have to say before making such move…but am sure its not too late for a change, right trika?

  15. tlamothe says:

    That move just eliminated the local testing place myself and a few guys from the Windows usergroup use who live close to Kingston. I personally liked the VUE location since it was just around the corner in Kingston and I thought their website was easier to navigate. I guess I’ll see what happens, what’s done is done.

  16. Leonardo says:

    I am cool with prometric…but why not have both VUE n Pro, whats the the cause of the big switch…come on MS do better than that !!!!

  17. Larry West MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, etc. says:

    We all know that when Trika gets her welcome kit for passing 70-620 (you did take and pass it, didn’t you? Did you remember to ask for the welcome kit? – they don’t send it out automatically like they used to), she’ll finally understand our complaints in that area.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft has their own testing center and thus their people are probably unaware how poor Prometric really is, and never will become aware. While this decision doesn’t rate up there with Windows ME, it’s awfully close.

    Also, Trika, Chance left off a few very’s.

  18. Ahriakin says:

    It’s not a question of if this change makes sense. It’s who got paid.

    I finished my MCSE but was considering some more in between, like Vista, while working on the Cisco side. With my nearest Prometric 2.5 hours away as opposed to the multiple VUE centers nearby there’s no reason to bother.

  19. comment says:

    After the very bad experience with the beta exam 71-620, this news comes normally in the path that Microsoft has adopted in the last months.

    Removing the VUE as testing partner is a another bad move by Microsoft.

    I will take only one more M$ exam. Guess what: at a VUE center !

  20. tree hugger says:

    This decision was not made to better the testing experience.  It’s all about the money.  With Prometric’s track record I’m sure they bought the business.  I don’t believe anyone could say with a straight face Microsoft will now have better service or become innovative. I wouldn’t want to be management in Microsoft Learning 12 months from now…

  21. Chance says:

    Larry, I did that in the interest of space.:)

    Like most other Vue folks, I’m just a little ticked (translate into sarcasm if you wish because it’s loaded with it) on this decision and do not understand why it was made so swiftly with no input from the community.  

  22. thomas Lee says:

    I think this must rank as MSL’s worst ever decision. There is no value to the test taker, and several disadvantages. The consultation was poor to non-existant. And while there may be advantages to MS Learning, the benfits to the customer are thin at best.

    Reconsider this decision.

  23. Daniel says:

    I think this decision has been made because they may have found out that Pearson Vue is leaking in Asian Regions. That way they will decrease the risk of complete braindumps, as they are out right know. It may not be the best step (in short term) for most of the Learning Providers and Customers, but it is definitely the right step to increase the value of Microsoft Certifications!

  24. Microsoft Certfication will change

  25. Are you all really that upset about this??? Wow.

  26. gomcse2002 says:

    Hey Mike

    I bet most of us here are upset about this situation. This time Microsoft really update a lot of exam takers.

    I love VUE and hate Prometric and I agree with someone that prometric sucks.

    I am going to miss the prompt and good services from VUE.

  27. Mike says:

    Michael, it is a bit upsetting. Here’s some of my initial concerns.

    1. Location of testing centers. I wrote a few comments ago it doesn’t really impact me as the center I go to already offers both Prometric and Pearson VUE. However, for a lot of the folks posting here they don’t have any nearby Prometric centers. While I’m sure many of the "VUE only" places will now become Prometric/VUE over time, there’s no way to tell if that will actually happen and if it does, when.

    2. The Microsoft FAQ answer as to why this was done indicates it was to "ensure program enhancements" and "streamline internal processes" among others. I read this to mean: "less costly and/or easier for us." For many people who actually take the exams, it’s the opposite.

    3. At the center I go to (again, both Prometric and VUE), I took MS exams through both EDPs. I found the Prometric website to be a pain in the neck to navigate, the testing PCs to be flaky, the exam engine to crash, test results slow to make it to MS, and customer service to be non-existent. When I switched to VUE, I didn’t have these issues so I stuck with them.

    I’m sure this decision wasn’t made lightly by Microsoft, but at the same time I want the same testing experience with Prometric that I had with VUE. Only time will tell if this comes to pass as right now all we have is the corporate spiel of "Hey, hey one EDP is good! Trust us!"

  28. Mathew says:

    This is a horrible decision on Microsoft’s part. The closest Prometric testing center from my area is over 2-hours away. The PearsonVUE I go to is my school and, of course, is close and convenient. I do not know why Microsoft would choose Prometric over PearsonVUE – especially since Prometric has less Testing centers.

  29. Josh says:

    This really is an unfortunate decision. Without fail, every Vue testing center in my area has better equipment than their Prometric counterpart. And, as other people have mentioned, Vue is more convenient to me than Prometric. If you’re going to force us to use Prometric, I hope that you force Prometric to get better control of their quality with their testing providers/centers.

  30. Rob says:

    I agree with most everyone else.  This is very bad news for me as there are several local Vue testing centers and no Prometric testing centers.  I guess I won’t be updating my MCSE any time soon.

  31. Ernesto says:

    Bad news, I’ve been using VUE since 2000 and they were always very fine in Peru and Spain as well..

    I hope that Microsoft solves the issue about creating a new MCP ID when changing exam provider. Microsoft and Prometric MUST offer the option of provide our current MCP ID at the moment of register for first time, otherwise the Microsoft Support will have a lot of issues of people asking for consolidate their resumes……

  32. machobelle says:

    This is going to be really unfortunate for alot of us becuase Prometric is a really bad test centre i took a Comptia Security+ test there once and it took 16 days for them to get my report score to comptia and when i call them, every day is a different story,so i stick with VUE,even tho i am living in new york there is not much Prometric and there website sucks,this is going to back fire on MS one day and i hope it happen soon!cheers

  33. hartplaza says:

    Daniel wrote at July 06, 2007 5:24 PM ;"I think this decision has been made because they may have found out that Pearson Vue is leaking in Asian Regions.".

    Daniel, That’s not what the FAQ tells us. MS is stating that it is due to streamlining processes, etc. ets.

    Of course, when you reduce the amount of test centers, it will reduce the risk of leaking material. But if this is the reason, MS should come with a better explaination.

    I hope they made good agreemants with Prometric, about giving better service, making the website better and raising the amount of testcenters in areas only covered by VUE.

    Again, I am not going to travel 4 hours (2 hours to the test center, and 2 hours back home) for testing. So I can (AND WILL) take the inconvinience of Prometric, but NOT the inconvinience of traveling (and the travel expenses above the certification expenses). So hopefully MS will do something about geographical spreading of Prometric test centers. (mabey it’s part of the deal ?)

  34. This only increases the amount of people who will hire gunmen to achieve certifications for them.  This is a bad decision.

    Taylor S. Ripley

    CertGuard Security Executive

    http://www.certguard.com

  35. Charles Laymon says:

    Wow, what a terrible move. On so many levels. You just alienated all the folks who do not have a Prometric center near them (like me) and just made certification more difficult instead of increasing the integrity. Just remember, we have to pay good money to take these exams plus any study materials. Then we have to travel to take the exams at a certified testing center. I know you guys must have some worthless business reason (short of VUE going out of business) for doing this and it sure does not pass the common sense test.

    Get a clue from all the blog responses above and re-think your decision!

    Think of your customers!!! Not yourselves!!

  36. Airton Leal says:

    For mitigate this problems, I thinks is one good option to Microsoft and Prometric, not to VUE, make promotions with agressive LOW, LOW, VERY LOW!!! PRICES to migrate Vue Centers do Prometric Centers.

  37. Chance says:

    I’m gonna throw in an additional 2 cents here…

    I’m currently pursuing MCSE 2k3 /w Security and have sat 2 exams over the past month.  Each time (and for that matter every other MS exam I’ve taken through Vue) my pass was noted within 24 hours on their site and on my MS transcript within 72 hours.  Now I don’t know if the rest of you have had that experience outside of the problems with the Vista MCITP beta exams, but to me that turnaround is pretty impressive.  

    I have heard nothing but bad things about Prometric, their lack of real customer service, and sad state of information reporting from co-workers and other friends I have in our local IT community who have used Prometric in the past.  

    Personal observations aside, I agree with other posters here in the belief that this decision feels rushed, not thought out fully, and not planned very well.  This is a very bad decision and one that I believe will cause MSL to lose more than just money on this.  (Have we forgotten the whole Vista rewrite thing already?) Yes, I understand the value of certifications and believe that the integrity of those certifications should be upheld to highest degree possible, but I also believe that more effort should be put into protecting that integrity not only by the community at-large, but also by the vendors and Microsoft.  There are better ways than to just wantonly dismiss an exam provider because you want to streamline the process.  

    I’m quite sure we all have some pretty good ideas on what can be done to preserve the integrity and quality of certifications.  Why don’t the folks at MSL have a Q&A with the community and actually listen to us for once without having to take the proverbial pie in the face as they did with Vista and the old NT4 certs way back when?    

  38. Cerebrus says:

    My personal experience suggests that Prometric centres may be few and far between, but the quality of those centres is far better than Vue centres. I think this is a necessary step taken by MS which should be a shot in the arm for those people who were crying out for strict Exam security measures.

    If having one Exam provider makes it easier for MS to control Exam delivery, then so be it. I think I could stand to be a little inconvenienced if Exam Security is strengthened in the long run.

    I also think that this decision would probably lead to Prometric opening more centres as welling as improving the existing centres.

  39. WOW!!! It’s amazing how so many people WANT to increase the value of their certifications, but gripe about the methods when personally affected.

    Here are a few points that I’ve come up with to justify why this should be done:

    #1 Fewer testing centers, fewer possibilities of the exams being leaked to the public (i.e. braindump materials).

    #2 Hired Gunmen will have fewer opportunities to take proxy tests for people, and it will be easier to track/catch them if they do.

    #3 Fewer testing centers, fewer people frivolously getting certified whenever they FEEL like it. Ultimately resulting in people that NEED to certify, getting certified.

    #4 Once T.Prometric has the sole rights to administer Microsoft Exams, they should have the time, money, and resources to increase the number of testing centers and the quality of their testing equipment. So it is only a matter of time before you’ll have more testing centers in your area.

    #5 This opens up possibilities for Microsoft to actually have their own dedicated Testing Facilities.

    I’m sure I’ll get flak from this but, as a leader in the IT Community dedicated to Exam Security and Integrity, I back this decision by Microsoft 100%, Trika. And furthermore, I hope other’s follow suit.

    CertGuard

  40. This sounds really bad!! It’s a bad news to say that you’ll have only one exam provider. Actually, VUE and Prometric can cover the territory enough, and here in Italy VUE is significantly better that Prometric. What happens after this decision? We’ll have again a testing center in a near location or what? This is not a good choice if you want to increase the number of people involved on certifictions… if I have to move too much from my location for an exam, I don’t know if I’ll take lots of them in the future. Too bad!

  41. adrian says:

    " I’m sure I’ll get flak from this but, as a leader in the IT Community dedicated to Exam Security and Integrity, I back this decision by Microsoft 100%, Trika. And furthermore, I hope other’s follow suit."

    give me a break ….

    I don’t believe that removing VUE as a testing partner was determined by the exams security&integrity. I believe that the most important reason was the money that M$ requested from VUE. After the very bad experience with beta, maybe VUE asked M$ for refunds.

    After all, in this world IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY !!!

    PS: I’m living in a country in which exist in one city only Prometric centers. That mean that if someone want to take a Microsoft exam must travel around 1000km.  I   believe that the question: how many will travel such a long distance to take a test? doesn’t need an answer…

  42. Chance says:

    Robert, I love and appreciate the heck out of what you guys at CertGuard do, but I have to disagree with you on some points on this.

    >>#1 Fewer testing centers, fewer possibilities of the exams being leaked to the public (i.e. braindump materials).

    Also fewer people with fewer opportunities to take fewer exams who need to take them for more available jobs that will most likely wind up in India or Pakistan that should remain in the US (personal opinion – sorry).  This leads into your point #2

    >>#2 Hired Gunmen will have fewer opportunities to take proxy tests for people, and it will be easier to track/catch them if they do.

    I believe that due to the lack of testing sites in areas that Vue (or Prometric for that matter) is already in, this will actually lead to an increase in this practice.  Yes, it may be easier to track and catch gunmen with only one testing provider, but realisticially who’s gonna travel 200 miles just to take a single MS exam when they may require multiple exams to achieve a certification such as MCSE?

    >>#3 Fewer testing centers, fewer people frivolously getting certified whenever they FEEL like it. Ultimately resulting in people that NEED to certify, getting certified.

    While I’m sure that there are some who will do just about anything to attain a certification and that big jump in pay, I don’t think that having to travel to take a test that you REALLY NEED to take is going to sit well with most in the community.  As for the NEED versus the WANT for certifications, there are those who have literally decades of experience in IT that just never felt the NEED to get certified.  On the opposite end of the spectrum there are folks out there who just WANT a cert because they feel it will give them a better shot a a job.  

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but certification exams are something you HAVE to be prepared to take and must have experience in the technology to be successful.  

    >>#4 Once T.Prometric has the sole rights to administer Microsoft Exams, they should have the time, money, and resources to increase the number of testing centers and the quality of their testing equipment. So it is only a matter of time before you’ll have more testing centers in your area.

    Key word in your point is SHOULD.  The question becomes will they?  Given the nature of this issue and the lower amount of Prometric testing centers versus number of Vue centers, this situation is going to get much worse before it starts slowly getting better.

    >>#5 This opens up possibilities for Microsoft to actually have their own dedicated Testing Facilities.

    Dedicated testing facilities lead to a lack of availability.  Is it really practical for MS to open a dedicated facility in every major US city?  Not really.  There really is no competition between the exam providers because the price structure is set by the certification vendor (in this case Microsoft).  The choice of testing center is based on two things – availability and user experience.  If a Vue testing center is 25 miles away and a Prometric center is 30 miles away, then the problem isn’t all that bad and it becomes a choice based on the candidate’s experience with the testing providers and obviously, the best experience is going to win out.  Now, if the Prometric center is 200 miles away, then the choice becomes much more evident.  

    –end comments–

    As I said Robert, you guys do the community a great service, but I can’t logically see how this development betters the security and integrity of certifications as a whole.  There has to be a better way for certifiaction exams to evaluate a candidates skills without taking away availability of testing centers.  I’m sorry man, but the idea of going to one testing provider is a ludicrous idea and one I’m sure Microsoft will see when the next round of certification surveys come out.

  43. :-o says:

    Robert Williams of CertGuard you are about as useful as the Minutemen. You love to hear the sound of your own voice but the people you’re trying to preach to are really not listening to you – your no leader of the IT community to me either, more like the CertNazi with your recent comments above. I want the CHOICE to take an exam wherever is closest to ME and for ME, VUE have better facilities. I don’t need you telling me VUE (CHOICE!) is a security risk. Exam security & integrity is up to the vendor (Microsoft) to add whatever clauses to their agreements for exam provision – if you meet those high standards then you can provide exams. Testing centres are used for all sorts of exams, I can’t see why they are going to improve just because of an exclusivity clause with Microsoft. How come Cisco, CompTIA, Sun, Symantec etc. haven’t felt the need to choose a monopoly exam partner?

    Also, in an era of climate change shouldn’t we travelling to the closest testing centre possible? Trika your carpooling will all be for nought 😉

  44. Microsoft Dropping VUE and Using Prometric Exclusively for Certification

  45. Aki says:

    People, don’t get so excited. Either you will take those tests and get certified or you don’t. For every exam I took by now I had to travel 250 miles. Now, I’ll have to take 350 miles trip. So what? I know I will take MS exams in the future, but now two on the same day, as I did some time ago.

    Best thing to do is to sit down, study and watch the things develop in the next months.

    If I have to choose between test center availability and proxymity AND value of certifications I studied for, then I choose value (and protection, integrity and value of my time (and money) I invested in certifications).

  46. Cerebrus says:

    Mr. :-O :

    Rather than ridiculing the pioneering efforts of other members of the IT community, it would have been more prudent on your part to list the reasons why you believe this action is wrong.

    All you have done is quote selfish reasons. Anything that is personally inconvenient to you is a wrong decision ?? Also, what use are clauses in NDA’s, when those clauses are not adhered to ?

    I tend to agree with Aki in that I would gladly choose to suffer a little inconvenience in locating a proximal test center rather than face the daunting prospect of having my certifications rendered valueless over time.

    Note: We are also discussing this topic in our forums at http://www.certguard.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=231. Those interested are invited to express their opinion freely.

  47. Chance says:

    Yeah, I gotta agree that lambasting Robert and the rest of the CertGuard guys is a bit harsh.  I do stand by my own comments disagreeing with Robert’s thoughts though.  At least I had the class to disagree in a friendly way.  CertNazi is pretty harsh.

    As for the inconvenience of actually having to travel some distance to get to a Prometric site, that’s not really the only point and is really only secondary to most of us.  It seems pretty obvious that only a handful of us have had a positive experience with Prometric.  So why, if Vue has had an overwhelming positive response with all of us who use Vue and those of us who have used both exam providers and found Vue to be far and above better that Prometric, did MSL suddenly have an epiphany and choose the lesser of the two.  Still makes no sense to me.

    I think it’s nice that this topic has actually made it to the Certguard forum among others, but I think this has to be addressed publicly and in the face of Microsoft Learning rather than be addressed on other forums.  

    I’ve been through this quite a few times in my own head and bounced it across other friends and we can come up with no logical reason that MS would just figuratively cut Vue off at the knees when it’s been Vue that’s made all of the good stuff happen – TechEd is just the latest of many events where certification exams have been offered.  

    I, for one, am really looking forward to Trika’s comments when and if she has any on this issue outside of those she’s already presented.  I wonder if they’ll be the "official corporate answer" or if they’ll be her own opinion on the matter.  Should be interesting.

  48. Mike says:

    I second what Chance said above.

    Travel differences aside, from the comments above and speaking with colleagues it seems that:

    Prometric = bad testing experience

    VUE = good testing experience

    I’d really like to know what MSL is going to do to improve the testing experience with Prometric now that it’s our only EDP option.

  49. Aki says:

    Cerebrus is right: don’t be selfish on this, and there is no need to be harsh either.

    First, we must agree that people at MS are smart and that decision wasn’t made over night. Second, you cannot make conclusions without first knowing the reasons why that happened and the story beyond that decision. And third, something WILL change: test center working days or open hours, or number of test centers, or something else.

    It’s up to us to study and to gain knowledge. It’s up to MS people to take it seriously and not let us down: after all, we are the trainers, system engineers and various professionals.

    The key is protecting the integrity and value of exams and certifications and we should concentrate on that.

    Who do you think deserve the certification (or degree, if you want) the most: the guy who cheat on exams because is so LAZY to warm up the chair studying or YOU, who studied so hard late at night, sweated over the books and invested time and money?

  50. hartplaza says:

    AKI,

    One thing I don’t understand. ALL big IT Certifications like CITRIX, CISCO, SUN, IBM, etc. etc. etc. are fully happy with delivering exams through Prometric AND VUE. Is Microsoft saying that all those solid firms are wrong, and should only provide testing through Prometric, or does Microft know something all these other companies don’t???

    Why on earth thinks MS is better by providing testing through only one provider? I am very curious to the outcome. One thing is for sure. The changes I will do testing at a prometric centre is very small, because of te big inconvinience. A testing center (VUE) around the corner is atractive to go around for a test, but having to travel half a day also means to arange things at work.

    I asked the VUE center (around the corner) if they would also become Prometric testing center, they gave me a big "NO WAY" as answer. Why should they? They provide all testing, except for MS and they said, it’s not their loss.

  51. Chance says:

    On Aki’s comments:

    >>First, we must agree that people at MS are smart

    I’ll at least give them that since they work there and develop the technology we use and the exams we take.  Trika, you still rawk though…at least you’re brave enough to tell us what’s going on with this Vue/Prometric thing.

    >>and that decision wasn’t made over night.

    Given the "out of the blue" announcement, I’m of the belief that it was.  If you guys saw something that I didn’t I might believe that it was a well though out and fully vetted decision, but I seriously doubt that’s the case.

    >> Second, you cannot make conclusions without first knowing the reasons why that happened and the story beyond that decision.

    It would be nice if we at least had that much but MSL has given absolutely no reasoning on this either to the community or even to Pearson Vue.  And I’m pretty sure Vue is feeling like they need a really big tube of lubricant right about now.

    >>And third, something WILL change: test center working days or open hours, or number of test centers, or something else.

    Remember, this is Prometric we’re talking about.  

    The long tem fix on this will not be easy to come to and I think that MSL will not be pleased with the end results either in the short of long term.  Nobody is going to be able to convince me that this is a good thing for increasing the credibiity or security of Microsoft certifications without going through the whole process from start to finish.  Even if they can, I’m pretty sure that more than one of us won’t be thoroughly convinced that it’s for the best.

    Heck, what’s next?  Maybe MS will stop accepting CompTIA exams as electives for other certs…oh wait…they already did that with MCTS and MCITP.

    >>Who do you think deserve the certification (or degree, if you want) the most: the guy who cheat on exams because is so LAZY to warm up the chair studying or YOU, who studied so hard late at night, sweated over the books and invested time and money?

    I dont think that this statement was really thought out.  There are those of us in the IT community who do realize that maybe they should go back to school to enhance their education or get certifications to advance in their jobs.  Most promotions are based on merit and experience, but to continue to keep those promotions, one must attain certifications.  Everyone who sits any exam has studied either through their own experience using the technology or has actually invested in training courses or materials to make sure they are up to speed on the correct methods to perform the tasks on the exam.  

    And now on to my final counterpoint…

    >>The key is protecting the integrity and value of exams and certifications and we should concentrate on that.

    Elaborate on why you believe that having one exam provider will keep anything that is is currently going on from happening.  "it’s too hard" or "but I can’t" are never acceptable answers in my book, but neither are eliminating your best option from the table and going with the next best alternative in order to take a shortcut to an end result at the cost of customer satisfaction.  Do it right the first time or don’t do it at all.  Personally, I think MSL got it wrong in this case.

  52. Mike says:

    Chance makes a good point regarding VUE not knowing the reasoning behind this either.

    If you look at their FAQs at http://www.vue.com/ms/ regarding this issue, they’re as much in the dark regarding the reasoning as everyone else.

  53. Elan says:

    I don’t like this move at all.  I’ve been to many Prometric and VUE centers and have liked my VUE experiences more than Prometric.  Bad move IMO.

  54. Aki says:

    The point is that this is a big change, I know Prometric, and personally I prefer VUE, too, and now is even harder to schedule test where and when we want. But if you look behind numbers (people, money from certs & books, reputation) you will see – guess what? – money, of course. I find it hard to believe that someone made an impulsive decision without thinking twice.

    After all, self-destruction is in human nature…

  55. Larry West, MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, ... says:

    Regarding testing centers and security:

    Here in Louisville, we have two Prometric centers, one with two computers to do testing on, and one with only one. Both are "monitored" by a secretary in another room. At the one with two testing computers (a for-profit chain training center), you can see the monitor at the secretary’s desk. The other one (a for-profit private college), you can’t see it, and I doubt it is there. (The only time I took an exam there, the computer froze, and I had to go find the person who was "monitoring" me.)

    At the Pearson Vue center I have taken my exams at lately, there are 13 testing computers, and there is a dedicated person who is actually looking over peoples’ shoulders to monitor the exams.

    Robert (Certguard), if my personal experience is typical, Vue is a lot better in regards to exam security than Prometric ever will be. Of course, some Prometric centers are better than some Vue centers, but not in my community. (Perhaps in the Seattle area?)

    When Vue is dropped, testing opportunities will drop by over 90% in Louisville (which is now actually larger than Seattle). Microsoft should have announced steps to improve exam availability as well as Prometric improvements when they announced the Vue cutoff. To assume that Prometric will improve is clearly not based on any fact.

    Like Chance, whom I mostly agree with on this issue (especially on Trika rawking), I also look forward to Trika’s replies to our concerns.

    In regards to "people at MS are smart," I have just three words: Windows Millenium Edition. (Although in MS Learning’s defense, they didn’t offer any certifications in ME.)

  56. hartplaza says:

    Mike, I think VUE is being smart not to give the whole information behind this. They are keeping the door open for MS testing, not saying anything negative about MS and refering to MS for further questions about the whole thing.

  57. hartplaza says:

    Trika, (or any other person knowing the answers) is it possible to provide us with numbers?

    How many Prometric testing facilities are there, and how many VUE?

    How many exams had Promedtric deliverd, and how many had VUE delivered?

    Is theire any information about geographical spreading of the testing centers?

    I’m sure this kind of informations should be available at MS and should be information used for making this big decission ??

  58. Wes says:

    I don’t like this news at all.

  59. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Hi, Wes. I don’t like that you all don’t like this news at all. Of course, I hate seeing very very very very (see Chance’s emphasis above) bad feedback on a decision we’ve made. Although I won’t get on here and blather responses if I don’t have anything additional or constructive to share, please don’t think that no response means your comments are going in to a black hole. I’m online today (Sunday! it’s my mom’s birthday. She is a great lady.) to let you know that what you’ve said here, and in the newsgroups, and on your blogs (Hunter, Lukas, Kay…) are in front of our executive team. So they full-on are getting your concerns and questions first hand and have a chance to respond. So keep it coming.

    —–

    I think y’all rawk too.

  60. Boris says:

    Well, back to history in my country.

    Prometric had 1 (ONE in capital letters) testing center for whole Russia. Just is case – it is about 9 hours to fly to Moscow from Vladivostok. It taken them a week to order a test, it taken a month to deliver results. And they was completely happy with situation. Guess how popular certification was here.

    It was VUE who changed it. With VUE one can order exam 2 hours before the test, and see the results in transcript next business day. They opened testing centers around all country.

    And this forced Prometric to move them ass after all – before they was absolutely happy ptoviding 50 exams per month.

    Back to tecnical part – my favorite testing center works both with VUE and Prometric. They have 8 PCs, and only one of them capable to run Prometric’s kludge.

    Killing competition is a damn stupid thing.

  61. Chance says:

    Since most of the sticking point seems to be on value and integrity, let’s go ahead and ponder a hypothetical fix to securing the integrity and increasing the value of Microsoft certifications.

    1.  Most exams are simple Q&A with few, if any, simulation questions.  There are a few exceptions, but these are primarily at the higher level certs such as Cisco’s CCIE and perhaps a few others (CCIE is the only example I know of right off the top of my head and I’m brainstorming here, so bear with me.) do the same.  Why not implement more adaptive and/or performance based exams?  I believe that by doing this, the integrity of the exams can be better preserved.  There are a few advantages to this:

    1A.  Adaptive exams allow for shorter exams if you’ve know the material, thus decreasing the amount of questions presented from the exam pool.  Figure it like this:  A minimum of 40 questions presented from a pool of say 600 are presented to a candidate.  This would allow for at least 5 questions from 8 objectives covered in an exam.  Adaptive exams are more effective IMHO than linear exams are.  They’re also a crapload harder because you can’t go back and change an answer.

    1B.  Performance based exams demonstrate the knowledge on how to apply a specific objective to a specific scenario rather than just knowing which basic command to use given a certain situation.  While the simualtion questions that are currently on Microsoft exams cover this, they only do it from a very basic stance.  Those of us who have been to college, university, trade school, or attended other post-secondary institutions know that hands-on experience is just as important as knowing the concepts and steps to take to accomplish a series of tasks.

    2.  To increase the value of any certification, the vendor must be willing and able to keep pace with current technology and adjust the exams as necessary.  While this may not always be possible without at least some lag, I believe that there must be more coordination between the development teams for the technology and the MSL exam developers.  For example, MS 70-290 still tests Server 2003 SP1 concepts, but still does not test for R2 content.  While this may be minor (and quite often a welcome relief) to those of us who sit these exams, I can’t help but feel that employers and candidates alike get cheated at least a little bit.

    I’m sure the CertGuard guys have some thoughts on this as well, so I’ll open the floor to further input.

    Personally, folks, I think that if we offer thoughts on how to fix the integrity/value question in addition to voicing our opinions in the defense of all the good things that Pearson Vue has done, we’ll gain more of a voice than we have already.

    As Trika said, keep the comments coming, but be as constructive as possible.  I think we’ve already voiced the opinions on how stupid it will be for MSL to sever a great relationship they already have with Pearson Vue, but keep those comments coming too!

  62. Eric Cote says:

    As a MCT trainer, I take a lot of exams to stay up-to-date with my certifications. (It’s a requirement for any certified trainer.)  So I’m pretty familiar with both VUE and Prometric.  

    Usually, the customer experience at VUE centers is better. Now this being said, the experience will vary greatly from one testing center to another. But for my money, in my area, I always favored VUE.

    I hope people at MSL will reconsider. If not, I wish that the Prometric experience in Eastern Canada will improve.

  63. hartplaza says:

    Hey Trika, Happy birthday on your mom. Hope you get to spend time with her, instead of reading through the comments here,….

    Hopefully, somewhere next week, MSL will come with some good answers and explainations to the questions and (for the most part) concerns here…

    thanks.

  64. Mike says:

    Chance, as far as I know only Cisco and Red Hat have performance-based testing in their exams. I believe Cisco only has it for the CCIE lab practical, but Red Hat requires a lab for all of their certs.

    I’m all for performance-based testing, but I think it would be hard for Microsoft to offer it. For the CCIE lab, you have to go to (in the US, anyway) one of two Cisco locations. The fee for the exam is also huge. Red Hat offers more locations and the fee is pennies compared to Cisco, but imagine these programs implemented to the scale that the Microsoft program is.

    Maybe we need a performance-based cert between MCITP/MCPD and MCA.

    Trika, happy birthday to your mom. 🙂 And thanks for listening to our blather on a Sunday.

  65. Chance says:

    Mike, the biggest difference between CCIE and Microsft PBTs could be that a Virtaul PC type interface could be used.  Ideally this would be similar to yet better than the current simulation questions and be able to be evaluated at the testing site based on the end state of the virtual machine at the end of the exam.  

    I would openly advocate a PBT for the ITP: Enterprise Admin, MCPD, and MCA.  I could see some use for some MCTS exams as well on technology such as SQL 2k5 and Server 2k8.

    Ideally, this could be offered at each testing site rather than have a situation similar to CCIE or Red Hat.  The biggest difference with MS certs and the Red Hat and CCIE certs are that the MS certs are targeted to specific technologies and specialties, not just the broad-ranging specializations of the CCIE or Red Hat.

  66. Chance says:

    Trika, Happy B-Day to your mom!  

  67. Renato Martins - MCITP, MCT, MCBDA, MCSD, MCSE, PMP, SCJP, SCWCD says:

    Here in Brazil, I’ve only taken exams with Prometric, and apart from having delays (from 3 days to 10, 12 days when certification promotions are running) with the info showing on my transcript, they’re ok to me.

    Regarding the monitoring Larry West mentioned, I think this varies from test center to test center. The center where I took my PMP’s exam had someone walking all the time around the room (about 20 computers) looking over our shoulders.

    I really think the monitoring should have a strong emphasis and be **enforced** by Microsoft. I’m an authorized proctor for delivering exams to IBM employees (through a prometric web-tool), and get really annoyed with the guys finishing (with 90% + score) exams in 15 minutes. And the older the exam is, the more it happens… Performance-based, simulation-based exams would really be great.

    Just as a side note, IBM has also moved to deliver exams only through Prometric (as can be seen at http://www-03.ibm.com/certify/news/20070625.shtml).

    But anyway, for people who have a problem with exam locations, having a choice is great, but I’m sure MS can and will help Prometric to have more centers…

  68. Mike says:

    Chance, your VPC idea is a good one. The MS cert simulations now are limited in the sense that you can’t go "hog wild" like you could if it were a complete VPC image. The are often many ways to accomplish a task but the current sims seem to want you to do things a particular way (I haven’t taken a sim exam in two years though so it might have changed now).

  69. Chance says:

    I’m chiming in WAAAAAY more than usual.  I guess I’m just being more vocal than most.  Ah well…on to business…

    Why are you getting annoyed with examinees passing with a high score in such a short amount of time?  Face it, either one of two things is happening:  Either they know the information and have a strong background in it or they’ve been given the information on what’s on the exam – especially if it hasn’t changed.  Personally, if I were a proctor, I’d be taking stock of where these folks work and if other people who have taken the same exam recently all work at the same place.  Granted, we can’t police the world effectively AND invade people’s privacy, but we can at least monitor demographic trends and at least investigate if an anomoly exists.  I would think that if 10 people from the same business came in to take the same test one right after the other, we would be able to make some sort of assumption and at least look into the issue.  Now I’m really interested to see what opinions Robert and the other folks at CertGuard have one this one.  

    I really think the issue at hand is more about the decision to dump Pearson Vue than it is about the security and integrity of certifications.  On the other hand, the security and integrity issues that currently exist can be remedied if we collectively put our heads together and come up with some very good alternatives to the current methods used to present exams.

    Trika, is there a poll function on this app that you use for the blog?  If so, I think you should put one up so we can guage some opinions on this issue.

  70. Gregory W. Smith says:

    I have to chime in – I got a prometric buy one get one free voucher at TechEd this year and decided to give them another shot… Vue has them beat hands down in helpful staff and the ability to schedule same-day testing (which is invaluable if you have a very fluid schedule).  I’m very sorry to see Vue go and hope you guys reconsider.

    I have a small IT staff that I’m responsible for, but also make testing / certification recommendations for the rest of our department and just sent an email out recommending Vue for these very reasons (also – they’d post exam results same day, not the "up to a week" Prometric takes… what’s up with that?). Looks like I’m going to have to eat my words unless you guys change direction.

  71. Alberto says:

    Vue was far better than Prometric.. This is sad…

  72. Oggi entrando in ufficio a bologna mi è stato comunicato da Marta Bernardi che Microsoft ha deciso di

  73. Cerebrus says:

    Hi Chance, I believe that some degree of statistical analysis of test results does take place, however I do not know if it’s demographic in nature or not. I do recall reading in the Proctor guidelines at my local test center (Prometric, for those who love details) that if a candidate answers all his/her questions correctly in an abnormally short time, it does qualify as a "suspicious case" and certain alerts are raised at some levels. Unfortunately, I don’t have more info on this. (maybe Trika can enlighten us)

    Also, related to your earlier comment, the past few months have seen a lot of brainstorming about a better way not only to administer exams but also on the Exam format and Creation. See Howard Dierking’s blog, http://tinyurl.com/2hvhwn, also this post from Trika http://tinyurl.com/yogfr7, and our forums http://www.certguard.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=231. That’s a lot of food for thought. 😉

    I appreciate your comments about CertGuard. Robert is travelling and I’m busy as usual, which explains the apparent dearth of responses from our side. I’d still like a few words with you in person. I see no url in your posts or I’d contact you directly.

    Trika, I greatly appreciate your letting us know that all these comments from the IT community actually mean something and are valued as feedback by the powers that be.

  74. Cerebrus says:

    Darn it, wrong link.

    This is where "Community based development" of exams was discussed in our forum :

    http://www.certguard.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=198.

    Sorry, Trika.

  75. Mike says:

    As someone that works for an educational institution, I am very dismayed by this decision. We were in the process of becoming VUE testing centers at 20 locations across the country in order to administer MS exams to our students. One of the reasons we went with VUE was because Prometric told us last year that they were not enrolling new testing centers at the time. I don’t know the reasons behind that, but it now scares me to think that Prometric will now be able to be much pickier than they already were about who can become a test center because there’s no competition. That doesn’t bode well for all of the MS training centers that have built the testing process into their business model. What are they going to do?

    I also agree with all of that are concerned over the distance to go to take the exams. If you want people certified, you have to have places to take the exams. If someone has to take an entire day off of work to sit for an exam, they will just be less inclined to take the exam.

    This is a bad move MS.

  76. This is the worst decision I’ve ever heard about the MCP program. Prometric has very often computer problems so I cannot schedule tests there. Furthermore the next Prometric test center is about 70 miles away, the next Pearson VUE about 10 miles.

    I have a lot of friends that take the 072 (academic) tests. At Pearson VUE you can schedule them online, at Prometric only via phone and about every second time they cannot schedule it because of computer problems…

  77. Drew says:

    Piling on here but this is a very poor decision on  your org’s part. Why would a company want to limit it market exposure and availability? I just got through reading dozens of posts from those saying they will have to re-think their MCP path because of the physical availability of testing centers. What a loss! I echo many others in the bad experiences with Prometric lately. I swore them off after my last 2 experiences. They goofed everything possible. My testing center worked with both companies and they advised me to use Vue instead. I have had nothing but good service from Vue.

  78. Aaron says:

    I need to disagree with almost everyone here. I have been going to a VUE/Prometric testing site for the past 5 years. I have tested with VUE and with Prometric. I have not had one bad experience with one or the other. If the testing centers that are only VUE want to stay in business they will start becoming Prometric testing centers as well, they will not be able to afford losing half of their business.

  79. Lee says:

    Are you guys at ML crazy? First of all you discontinue the MCSE track, then you go and choose the worst testing provider to buddy-up with. It seems you have clearly lost your collective minds. Do you never listen to your customers or do you always ‘follow the money’ and do what your Marketing department tell you to do?

    This is very bad news for Microsoft because the end-user experience with Prometric is very poor. You have taken away a key element of the customer experience, and that is ‘choice’. If you follow the Microsoft testing track, you now have ‘no choice’ as to who your testing provider is.

    And if I worked for Pearson VUE (which I don’t), I would be very angered at the ‘smiling kiss-off’ that your comments infer.

    Another bad decision for Microsoft.

  80. Joel says:

    For me this is REALLY BAD!  I used to work for another center and dropped Prometric because they had such bad service.  I kept records that I or one of my staff was spending an hour a day on average to fix a Prometric problem.  Tests wouldn’t be downloaded, we’d call support and they’d tell the person to come back tomorrow.  Never mind they had just spent $100-$200 to fly in from a neighbor island.  Not an option for the student or for us.  They didn’t care.  The student didn’t see it as Prometric, they saw it as the company.  We took many black eyes on those situation.  One of their people from corporate came out and spoke with us face to face and made false promises.  We were their largest center in Hawaii and were treated like CRAP and that’s when we had a choice.  Now for the Microsoft if we have no choice, I can’t imagine how bad it will get.  I don’t know if he’s still there or not but Jared Rudo put down VUE and couldn’t see the value in the promotions that VUE was offering.  He was an arrogant jerk and that’s being polite to him.  They changed the compensation plan and I figured out that if I took the average quarter and did the calculations under the new compensation, we lost out on $500 per quarter and this wasn’t including the cost factor of the time of the staff to fix their problems.  We also said that we would do whatever to become an academic testing center for about 2 years and they went with someone else after being told by our COO directly that we would do what it took to become an academic center.  They said they must have over looked us, but I had contacted them regularly asking them to become an academic center.  Finally after 18 months of trying to resolve issues and having LOTS of broken promises we dumped them.  The staff cheered when the announcement was made.

    I just went to their site to see if where the Prometric sites are in Hawaii.  I put in IT for area of study and Microsoft for test program and there are 3 places state wide, BYU in Laie (not convenient for most of the population of Oahu), a downtown location (I know people that hate going there and have tested on the mainland rather than use their center) and a third place that basically the room is a converted broom closet and has minimal hours.  Even the local colleges along the lines of Heald aren’t offering Prometric testing.

    We’ve got to see if we can get Microsoft to change their decision.  It’s not in our best interest.  I really really have a bad taste in my mouth about Prometric and would rather drop mentioning test to students than send them to a Prometric center.

  81. Andy says:

    I have taken over 225 exams in the last 11 years at both Prometric and VUE testing centers, and while I think we should have a choice between testing vendors, we have to roll with the changes.

  82. Larry West MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, etc. says:

    I just did a search on Prometric’s site for Washington state and Pearson Vue’s for the 20 sites nearest Seattle, WA. Even in that area there are more Vue sites than Prometric (and it lists Canadian sites as well). Both had less sites than I expected for that area, however.

    Also, on Pearson Vue, you can sign up for the 71-625 and 71-626 if you have a promotion code, but not on Prometric! (Thus, the FAQ is wrong about exams being the same.)

    I can’t believe there was "months and months of discussions, negotiations, meetings, and debate over this very big decision" as Trika puts it, or else they wouldn’t have decided it this way. At any of the "meetings" did anyone ask what us hoi polloi (common people) think about Vue and Prometric? Maybe the "negotiations" was for the kickbacks that the decision makers got.

    Please, Trika, find out and give us the juicy details.

    (And Andy, yes, we have to roll with the changes, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it — I still believe that Beta was better than VHS (for one thing, the tapes were smaller), but eventually VHS has been replaced with DVD; perhaps some day Prometric will be replaced with something better. One can only hope.)

  83. Gareth says:

    I’m in the UK and have never had an issue with Prometric. Usually I can schedule an exam during the same week and there are test centres in every major city. It would be nice to see some weekend testing available but other than that, Prometric have been flawless. I haven’t used VUE extensively (only once in the past year) and I couldn’t say there was anything wrong with that either.

    Just my two pence worth.

  84. Paul Collis says:

    I am the MD of a small training company that is also a VUE testing Centre.

    Prometric have told us several times before that they are not recruiting any more test centres which is why we ended up with VUE whom I cannot fault in any way.   Our test facilities are plush compared to any Prometric centre I have ever visited and we are also out of town which is a big bonus to for most people who live on the outskirts of the city.  

    As usual MS do what is good for them and F**K everyone else.

  85. Wes says:

    It’s not so much that one was chosen, but that my experiences with both have convinced me that VUE is the superior provider, from the availability and quality of testing centers, to the ease and flexibility of scheduling exams, to communication.

    VUE always sends post-mortem surveys about the security and overall experience of the testing center, which have always followed the rules with me, even though they know me by name at this point.

    I’m sure there are reasons, and at this point we’re probably just jousting with windmills, but I’d like to keep using VUE. I like them better; it’s just that simple. 🙂

  86. Chance says:

    Sounds like Prometric either needs to undergo some rapid growth planning or MSL seriously needs to rethink this strategy of having only one test provider.  This move not only inconveniences the consumers, but let’s think for a second about the many colleges and universites that utilize vouchers as a part of their course offerings.  The 72- series of exams is targeted at academic facilities as well, so if these institutions rely on vouchers purchased through Pearson Vue, doesn’t this leave them out as well as all of us?  I’m assuming that Prometric offers these same types of vouchers to academic institutions as well, but the inconvenience for students enrolled in these tech courses are going to be inconvenienced as heavily as we are if they are forced to travel long distances.  

    I still don’t believe that MSL thought about all of the dynamics involved.  I think I speak for everyone (ok…well..almost everyone)affected by this decision, regardless of whether we test with Vue or Prometric, in demanding to know the full reasoning for the decision.  I’m sure the great folks at Vue would like to know too since SOMEBODY apparently forgot to tell them.

    Come on Trika, the head honchos at MSL can’t hide forever!!!

  87. Takho Tsoi says:

    Bad, Bad, Bad. Microsoft, if you are seeing it message, please reconsider this again as this is extremely bad for both exam centers and takers. I personally prefer vue than prometric. Imagine people drive at least more than an hour to the test center. If you drop vue, I wouldve imagined that nobody would like to take the test from a far far test centers and become microsoft certified. Not only does this look bad to certified people, but it also looks bad on your part, microsoft, you know why, as this shows there are no certified people supporting your product.

    Although you have choice to select which becomes the test centers, but….Please reconsider this very very deeply. Dropping vue is not wise at all.

    takho

    mcp/mcdst/mcsa 2003

  88. Takho Tsoi says:

    Bad, Bad, Bad. Microsoft, if you are seeing it message, please reconsider this again as this is extremely bad for both exam centers and takers. I personally prefer vue than prometric. Imagine people drive at least more than an hour to the test center. If you drop vue, I wouldve imagined that nobody would like to take the test from a far far test centers and become microsoft certified. Not only does this look bad to certified people, but it also looks bad on your part, microsoft, you know why, as this shows there are no certified people supporting your products.

    Although you have choice to select which becomes the test centers, but….Please reconsider this very very deeply. Dropping vue is not wise at all.

    takho

    mcp/mcdst/mcsa 2003

  89. Takho Tsoi says:

    Bad, Bad, Bad. Microsoft, if you are seeing it message, please reconsider this again as this is extremely bad for both exam centers and takers. I personally prefer vue than prometric. Imagine people drive at least more than an hour to the test center. If you drop vue, I wouldve imagined that nobody would like to take the test from a far far test centers and become microsoft certified. Not only does this look bad to certified people, but it also looks bad on your part, microsoft, you know why, as this shows there are no certified people supporting your products.

    Although you have choice to select which becomes the test centers, but….Please reconsider this very very deeply. Dropping vue is not wise at all.

    takho

    mcp/mcdst/mcsa 2003

  90. Jose L. Rodriguez says:

    Prometric centers simply SUCK! Old computer equipment and constant exam freezes have made my testing experience really frustrating.

  91. Wes says:

    Robert Williams [CertGuard]:

    Am I to understand that you’re saying the solution to solving the "paper MCSE" problem is to restrict access to the exams, or make them less convenient to take?

    I question your logic that making the tests more inconvenient, and using an (IMO) inferior exam provider translates to increased value of certifications. The value of the exams is the knowledge they measure, not who was willing to drive an extra 50 miles and put up with inferior service to take it. By that logic, why not have only one testing center in Antarctica to show clients that you *really* know how to code in .Net?

    To answer your question: YES! I want to take an exam any time I feel like it and I want it to be as good an experience as possible. Why wouldn’t I?

    I hope there were more legitimate reasons for this decision.

  92. mooncalf says:

    Our local college Prometric center in the UK never ever offers any exam times. The other nearest one only does week-day exams and is very hard to get a time scheduled for the 2.30-3 hours exams without having to take a day off work at the very least. They used to do Saturday exams and they dropped that also. Has Microsoft thought about the simple fact that by reducing the number of testing centers it will increase load on the already over-worked and unreliable Prometric centers? Has any plan been put in to force them to open longer hours and/or at Weekends to cope with the increased demand?

  93. jason (with inside info) says:

    Prometric OWNS some centers and has contracts with individual centers for the rest.  The quality of their corporate centers is far higher than the contract sites, and matches PV’s centers.  Prometric has more centers, especially internationally.  That is probably a major motivator of MS, since international cert is going to be the growth area.  At the corporate level, Prometric is more responsive and easier to work with.  Prometric’s individually owned (contract) sites leave much to be desired based on a multi-center review, because they are not controlled in a standardized way as are the corporate centers.

    NOTE:  Prometric was just purchased by ETS, the company who brought you SAT, GRE, and TOEFL.  ETS’s focus will be on a more secure setting and a high stakes environment, but it remains to be seen whether they will push Prometric management in the high-quality environment direction.

  94. Chance says:

    Jason,

    >>Prometric’s individually owned (contract) sites leave much to be desired based on a multi-center review, because they are not controlled in a standardized way as are the corporate centers.

    So I guess that means that Prometric does not publish standards for their testing centers.  I’m not sure if Vue does either, so rather than stick my neck out, I’ll just concede that they do not until told otherwise by an authoritative expert on that area.  

    But this is what bothers me as well.  Why is there no standard.  I should be able to go into a testing center in Maine for an exam and have generally the same experience and availability if I go to any other testing center in the world.  Now I know that this may not always be possible, but think about this for a second:  If every state sponsored college in the US and all of the medium-and-above sized universities across the world opened testing centers of some sort, the ability and mandate to standardize would be driven chiefly by education guidelines by the particular state or country.  Now, that’s not to say that every college NEEDS to become an "IT Acadamy", but if a state-sponsored college has a standard for it’s own internal testing centers, then why can’t those standards be consolidated and used as a guide to develop a standard for IT testing centers worldwide?  

    I think it’s a practical approach…now to see if it can actually be applied.

  95. Daniel says:

    This is a very bad move.

    1) The Prometric customer support is very bad vs. VUE.

    2) The VUE website features that you can schedule a test the day before and even cancel the test or re-schedule the test within 8 hours is amazing and no way closer than Prometric.

    3) What about the MCT voucher for the 20%?

    The center that I am going was offering Prometric and VUE, they changed to only VUE becuase no body was taking Prometric.

    Very bad move from MSFT

  96. Mike says:

    Jason, how many Prometric-owned centers are there? The closest one in my area is over 90 minutes away (and that’s without traffic)! For me to take an exam with the VUE experience through Prometric I’d have to drive 90 minutes, 30 minutes for set up/sign in/etc., then take a 2-3 hour exam before driving back another 90 minutes.

    One exam now becomes a 6 hour process. Imagine doing this for certifications that require more than one exam.

  97. Elias Mereb says:

    "Prometric centers simply SUCK! Old computer equipment and constant exam freezes have made my testing experience really frustrating."

    Same here, some times even 3 min. between questions

  98. Prometric qui a maintenant l’exclusivité des certifications Microsoft. Le passage de Vue à Prometric

  99. MJS says:

    I just found this out….HUGE mistake for all the reasons mentioned!  As a VUE testing partner, the VUE organization and tech support is one of the best I have ever encountered.  Albiet not very often, but when I have had to contact them for a problem, they have quickly resolved it…100% of the time (no exaggeration).  While totally disappointed, I am not surprised…Microsoft often does the OPPOSITE of what the people want.  

  100. Andy says:

    Post number 100!

    Fads and fashions come and go. There was a time when MS only use one testing vendor and then they had two.

  101. Chance says:

    Aww…we were saving post #100 for Trika…

    Ah well…any word from higher on this hotbed issue Trika?

  102. Lauri Arnold says:

    This is really bad for my students.  My campus is Vue testing center and we were turning out lots of certified individuals  Now they will have to go somewhere else to certify.  It also means that our testing center will loose money.  I wish the MS Academy’s ad been given a warning or, better yet, had some input.

  103. markieman31 says:

    I agree, very poor and very inconvenient.  I’ve used Prometric once and disliked it very much so and now have been using VUE ever since.  If I am forced to go back to prometric, it really discourages my exam taking.  

  104. Bryan says:

    I must say this news was pretty upsetting to not only myself but everyone I work with. Here in Michigan there are a ton of Vue test centers, the one I go to is only 15 miles from my home, the next one of only 17 miles from my home…the next one is only 20 miles.

    But only a 4 Prometric test centers, the nearest one if close to 60 miles away…the next closest one it a good 80 mile drive.

    By now it shoud be painfully obvious that you (Microsoft) are increasing the traveling time (and frustration) that we (the consumer) have to endure to take these exams…which are not every fun to begin with.

    Now, I not only have to justify the cost of the exam but the two hours (and gas) I will be spending in traffic. But from the other posts I have read it seems I am one of the fortunate ones.

    I wonder what the real reasons for doing this are. I am betting it boils down to Braindumps or money.

    If it is money then Microsoft will actually lose revenue on this – as more and more people like myself think of switching to Linux cert that yeild higher paying jobs and I can take 15 minutes from my front door. Or perhaps a Sun Certified Java Developer (2 tests taken 15 minutes from home verses a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (5 tests taken 60 miles away)…really it boils down to simple math if you make it easy and fun we will buy into it – if you make it dull and frustrating we will look somewhere else.

    If this is about the seemly endless Braindumps, Gunmen, Bootcamps, etc etc – then rest assured the guilty parties will simply switch to prometric and resume business as usual, probably flooding the market with even more of their garbage as they now have to make up for their lost income from the time it took to switch over to prometric (not that I sympathize for them at all).

    In the end you have actually done nothing more then frustrated and wasted the time of thousands of your loyal customers – reminds me of Windows ME.

  105. MH says:

    Have been to both and had bad experiences with Pro non with Vue. I don’t know about anyone else but to me choice is very important as well as convenience and I do not believe that I should have to give either up. It is up to MS to provide their customer with a secure convenient way to test. If not as a customer I will go elsewhere.

    MCT for the past 7 years.

  106. Hunter says:

    My guess is Trika doesn’t want any part of this thread. It is such a bad move to use Prometric I wouldn’t comment on it either.

  107. James says:

    I have used Vue and Prometric. Vue has better customer service, better testing equipment and nicer test GUI. When writing my exams at Prometric, I had mini-heart attacks wondering if the test froze between question changes or the computer was going to crash. If you go with one provider make it Vue.

    I hope a due dilligence analysis was attempted to see if international countries have enough Prometric sites. A longer drive may turn people off of obtaining a cert. Perhaps MS can reimburse people for gas if the test center is more than 25KM or miles away.

  108. Andy says:

    So which product vendor and exam vendor will you choose–provided MS starts producing routers and switches–and Cisco creates Cindows?

    Cisco and Pearson VUE partner to expand access to Cisco certification and safeguard integrity of global exams

    Beginning August 1, 2007, Pearson VUE will be the primary test vendor for Cisco® certification exams worldwide. Cisco CCNA® and CCIE® are two examples of Cisco professional certification exams that will be delivered through Pearson VUE. Additionally, Pearson VUE will deliver other Cisco individual technical certifications and specialization exams previously delivered by multiple test delivery partners. Pearson VUE has been delivering Cisco exams since 2000, but shifting to a primary vendor strategy worldwide will enable Cisco to advance test security through the deployment of advanced biometric technologies, facilitate the rapid localization of exams around the world, and allow for increased certification scalability and coverage.

    As a result of this change, all individual Cisco technical certification exams for Cisco customers and partners will need to be scheduled through Pearson VUE. July 31, 2007, is the last date to take a Cisco exam through Prometric. Pease visit our Website for a detailed FAQ.

    http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/learning_certification_program_updates.html

  109. adrian says:

    I’m glad that I have to take only one more M$ exam(at a VUE center). Next will be Cisco exams…

  110. Tom says:

    Maybe MS wants to make it physically harder to get a cert so less people have them. This would increase the demand and make them look better. Or maybe not…

    I too am very disappointed with this decision. Vue is definitely much better. This heavily affects my future decisions on gaining/updating my MS certs.

  111. andy (ajs1976) says:

    So Citrix goes from one offer exams only at Prometric to offering them at both Vue and Prometric.  Microsoft chooses Prometric.  Then Cisco choose VUE over Prometric for similiar reasons.  Interesting developments.  I would like to know what the real motivation was behind these decisions and not the fluff we have been given

  112. Chance says:

    OK, so now Cisco’s doing the pretty much the exact opposite of what MSL is doing in the testing arena.  Nice to know that Cisco is not only concerned with quality, but with availability as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Microsoft was?  

    We’re still waiting for an update on this, Trika.

  113. gomcse2002 says:

    I bet you will probably get a better idea why we prefer VUE over Prometric and please say something  ASAP. Hope you are hiding from us again like last time !!!

  114. Keith Straughn says:

    I live in Barbados. I was just at the prometric web site. According to the site, there are NO prometric testing centers here. What do i do?

  115. hartplaza says:

    IBM had chosen for Prometric. I think there is going to change a lot of things in the near future.

  116. Larry West MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, etc. says:

    If (and its a big if) Prometric is going to undergo some changes to improve their quality of service, it would have been a good marketing move if these were announced at the same time as the change-over from two test providers. For now, it looks like Microsoft is just reducing the number of possible locations to take the exam from 50 to 100 percent, depending on location.

    I am worried that when I have to renew my MCPD and MCITP that I might not get a spot at one of the three available Prometric computers in my area during the time allowed. Since more people will be taking exams at the Prometric centers, these computers will probably break down even more often.

    Trika — it’s not too late to announce what Prometric’s quality of improvements (including more exam locations) are.

    And Kieth, just be glad you aren’t living in Pakistan. MSL cut off test-takers there without any notice because of TestKing, et al, without giving any alternatives to those who are legitimate computer professionals, then they cut the Pakistanis off from taking the exams in neighboring India. If I were you, I would take as many exams as I could afford before the Vue cut-off. Since no one else could get certified without leaving your country, it will eventually make you more rarer and more valuable.

  117. Alex says:

    I doubt this decision was made on anything else but cost.  You look at the service from both providers and guess which one was going to cost MS more?  I’m sure they thought long and hard about the pros and cons, but quite frankly i’d be amazed if it wasn’t sealed by the huge saving they’ll be making moving to one testing provider – and the cheaper testing providor at that.

    The (official) fluff given about the reasons for the move is just that; fluff.  They were hardly going to announce the move based on the great savings MS will be making and not passing on to us were they?

  118. Robert says:

    WTF Microsoft does it again

  119. Bob says:

    Bad idea, why cannot MS not get consistent. Now when I had a comfort level in knowing that a test site was close to me, now I have to take more time off to get to a prometric that is no where near me.

  120. Stephan K says:

    I am a student at a community college that uses pearson vue. They offer great weekend hours and there is currently only one facility in my county that is run by prometric and they have hours for the unemployed. weekdays 9 – 3 does not help me. The college in the past was not accepted by prometric and there is no certainty i will be able to continue taking MCSE exams. I feel this is would be a bad move for Microsoft. But i do know how Microsoft loves to create monopolies

  121. Curt says:

    This sounds like a bad idea. Seems like there are other ways to keep the exam integrity and prevent "paper MCSEs". Not to mention there is only one Prometric testing center in my county and Prometric didn’t even want to speak with my school about becoming a testing center in the past(they are currently a VUE center).

  122. Harry says:

    I have heard bad things about Prometeric. Pearson Vue is like the thumb of the hand. The hand will work just not as efficiently. Cutting out Pearson Vue would be a big mistake. Pearson Vue’s hours for testing are a lot better than Prometric  NO SATURDAYS !!!!!!!!

  123. Mike says:

    This is very bad. I take my certifacations at Bucks County Community College, in Newtown, PA, and they have Saturday hours. The nearest location is in Trevose, PA and they offer hours during the week, no weekends. I would have to take a day off of work to take a test. That really sucks.

  124. Chance says:

    Trika graced us with her presence on Sunday to say:

    >>I’m online today to let you know that what you’ve said here, and in the newsgroups, and on your blogs (Hunter, Lukas, Kay…) are in front of our executive team. So they full-on are getting your concerns and questions first hand and have a chance to respond. So keep it coming.<<

    I think the "powers that be" have had a chance to respond by now yet have apparently chosen not to.  I would strongly recommend against avoiding the certification community’s concerns because you must remember why you (collectively…not Trika though..she’s cool with most of us) have a job.  

    It’s not solely the certifications that we have achieved, but our experiences both individually and collectively that that brought us where we are today be it in an entry level position or as an technical executive.  There are other options, but we have chosen to certify on the technology that Microsoft creates regardless of the complaints we hear in an effort to contribute to making it better.  We have proven ourselves and our knowledge by choosing to take and pass the exams you develop and then continue apply that knowledge in our respective environments and support our clients and customers who have chosen to utilize your products.  We have, time and again, come to the defense of Microsoft in the public eye regardless of just how wrong we may believe a decision to remove a technology from a product or how long a flagship product is delayed from release.  But removing a partner who has done nothing but provide quality service and support over hundreds of thousands of exams worldwide is absolutely inexcusible.  

    You chose an inferior provider to "increase the security and integrity of Microsoft certifications."  To this, sir (or madame as the case may be), I dare say that you and your staff have failed in your goals.  Decreasing availability does nothing to achieve your goals, but will increase the instances of examinees doing whatever it takes to pass an exam the first time so that they do not have to travel a great distance (in some cases) to try again.  This decision can only lead to a decrease in the amount of Microsoft Certified Professsionals and thus cause greater problems for those who require those MCPs.

    Yes, organizations such as Cisco have chosen to consolidate operations with a single exam provider as well.  Those organizations, however, also know that availability and quality of their exams is not driven solely by the exam provider.  Microsoft Learning must see that if they are to successfully bring the next generation of certifications to market successfully, the exams must be available.  

    There is no way that the "Paper MCSE" will ever go away so long as changes in the way tesets are administered does not change.  In 2001, there was a story about a 12 year old girl in India who achieved her MCSE.  You speak of eliminating the "Paper MCSE", but what are you doing about it after the certification is achieved?  I cannot in good conscience condone eliminating anyone who may be under a certain age from being allowed to attempt to certify, but I do believe that proving that you NEED to certify should be brought into the equation.

    I’m calling for the executives at Microsoft Learning to respond to this issue now, not when is prudent.  The community who has supported you for so long at least deserves to not only be heard on this, but openly acknowledged as well.

    I would also call for the community at-large to voice their opinions openly in as many ways as is acceptable.  That means no spamming, mass emails, or anything else negative.  Be as productive as possible when stating why you think that this decision is a bad one.  Inconvenience is one thing and contributes alot to those who want to pursue a certification, but we must be willing to take the next step and provide a constructive alternative and reasoning behind our opinions.

  125. Nik says:

    Microsoft grow up, there is something called social responsibility, and spare me the mumbo jumbo of better delivery and stream lining an exam, Prometric has no customer service and never had , and you and Cisco are behaving like babies, while the rest of the world gets screwed over. We are a person vue Center more importanly we are a school who did approximately 240 certifications this year till date and 85% of those tests were Microsoft. Now go figure  

  126. Bob G. says:

    All Softies are clones of Bill and Steve. So you won’t get a one of them to stand up and challenge even their own pet cat. Yes sir, can I have another!

  127. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Don’t mind me, still listening. The top things I’m hearing from you are:

    – Top concern: test center access

    – weekend testing is important

    – + good hours for testing

    – + same-day scheduling

    – you have concerns about Prometric’s data reporting

    – Things you like and don’t want to lose (good website experience, post-mortem surveys, etc)

    – This seems like a hasty decision, without due respect to customer viewpoint

    – You’d like more information from us, period.

    Plus a whole bunch of other things but those are what I’ve seen to be the most common concerns.

    Just so you know, all of the issues you raise here, that we’re catching in the newsgroups, and being submitted to msledp@microsoft.com–are being logged and are/will be  reviewed/addressed by the joint Microsoft Learning and Prometric team.

    I’m looking to those same people to provide ACCURATE, PUBLIC information and responses to the points and questions you’ve raised–and I believe more detail should be available soon. In the meantime, as I’ve said before, I don’t want to make up answers (that will confuse you and get me fired) or add platitudes (that will annoy you and waste my time).

    I stand by my post above: a lot of thought and time put in to this decision; I trust that we will see good affects as a result.

    No one over here likes to see the disappointment showing up in these comments. It goes without saying that the last thing Microsoft wants (whatever you think of this decision or motives) is to lose your support and business.

    IMHO, this is going to be a good move, of course for our business and Microsoft, but also to make things better for current and future customers. On the way there, there will be bumps in the road for some of you, and for us, too.

    I’ll add more information as I have it. You are also welcome to send your comments to msledp@microsoft.com.

  128. Teo says:

    Definitely:

    – Prometric don’t allow saturday scheduling, which is VERY VERY BAD (I have to take day off, travel 500 KILOMETERS to take exams)

    – I work at University an MS IT Academy which is also VUE testing center. There are at least 20 VUE testing ceters around here and much more in the whole country. NOW, people IS LOOSING interest in taking MOCs and exams because nearest Prometric site is more than 250 KILOMETERS AWAY! And there are very very few of them in the whole country. That means LESS students, LESS exams taken, LESS MOCs delivered, LESS money. That’s BAD both for Academy AND MCTs that have to fulfill  requirements of certain number of students trained, and so on…

    – we can’t schedule exam day or two before, but have to schedule at least a week (wchich is BAD because of my dynamic work schedule and travel required)

  129. hartplaza says:

    Trika, with :"Top concern: test center access", you mean our concern in geographical spreading of testing facilities?

    Just making sure you get the right top priority…

    Thanks for being a listening ear in our concerns!

  130. Alex says:

    Stupid decision.

    Had an issue with Prometric and contacted them through their site. The answer came 3 weeks later… If that happened with vue, it should take about 20 minutes to solve the problem, the answer would take about 2 minutes, thanks to their live chat.

    If we compare the experience of scheduling and taking your test, VUE would be immeasurably better.

  131. Chance says:

    Too bad the blog was broken this morning.  I had a pretty good post..and yes, pretty long.  I’ll have to post it later today.

  132. Can a testing center be both Vue and Prometric? I work with several schools who provide testing for their students. One non-profit school in particular is both a CompTIA E2C member, Cisco Academy and this year became a MS ITAcademy. They are a Prometric testing center now. Does anyone know if they can also become a VUE testing center to cover all of their bases?

  133. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Yes, Hartplaza. Geographic coverage of centers.

  134. Chance says:

    OK…here’s the post I tried to send earlier today…

    Trika, I think you’ve got the main points, but what you must understand is that many of us who have testing centers affiliated with both providers or one from each provider close by or within a reasonable distance are having the biggest issue with is the quality of service standpoint.

    >>- you have concerns about Prometric’s data reporting

    Absolutely.  By all accounts listed here and from others had by people I’ve spoken to on this issue, Prometric lags heavily in this area.  Look, if they haven’t improved in 10 years, what makes you (or any of us for that matter) think they’re going to improve overnight?  

    >>- Things you like and don’t want to lose (good website experience, post-mortem surveys, etc)

    The web site experience isn’t really that important.  I’ve been to corporate web sites that were very difficult to navigate, but it also should not be a five page process to find a testing center either.  

    The post-mortem surveys sent out by Vue are key to improving the quality, security, and therefore the integrity of certification testing as a whole, not just Microsoft exams.

    >>- This seems like a hasty decision, without due respect to customer viewpoint

    Bingo.  There’s a reason companies like Coca-Cola, Marrs Candy, and many other market-specific companies release their products in test markets before they go into wider distribution.  Face it.  If the product does not sell in the test market, it gets shelved.  Customer viewpoint is key to making any decision, or has MSL forgotten that?

    >>- You’d like more information from us, period.

    Again, nail on the head.  This differs from my previous market analysis comments.  While nobody really cares why the new Diet Coke with vitamins and minerals (btw…yuck…) gets shelved because it has no real impact on the way they do business or on their lives, many corporations share their reasoning for big decisions such as the apparent MSL-Prometric partnership.  This is also done in a more descriptive way than just "oh by the way, we’re partnering with Company B, and dropping Company A without any reason other than because we said so" – which if you read the press release, that’s pretty much the feel.

    >>IMHO, this is going to be a good move, of course for our business and Microsoft, but also to make things better for current and future customers. On the way there, there will be bumps in the road for some of you, and for us, too.

    Forgive for countering your opinion on this Trika because we all like and respect you and your role at MSL.  What MSL is doing is not only decreasing the quantity and quality of the exams by partnering with an organization that not only has fewer testing centers worldwide but also has a lousy customer service track record.  Promises for better service and quality made by MSL aside, nothing anyone says is going to convince me or just about anyone else here that Prometric can or will live up to any promise it has made to either the certification community or the testing centers that contract with Prometric.  

    I’m sure there has been more input via email than there has here, but the "bumps in the road" that you speak of have a much higher chance of inconveniencing and frustrating the consumer which leads to decreasing sales which leads to fewer people to provide that "quality service" everyone craves so much anymore.

  135. Hunter says:

    It should be pointed out, amidst all of the disappointment about this bad..bad.. decision, that Trika is apparently the only one publically taking the lumps for this choice. I know we can send an email but I don’t see any MSL senior folks out here defending the decision. (Thanks for being willing to discuss the issue Trika – even if we disagree I am with Chance and I respect you).

    One great irony is that we have a software company accused of monopolistic practices generating other monopolies by its practices. I am sure the folks at Google are relishing this one..

  136. Bob G. says:

    There’s nothing to defend! It’s their program and choice and you are allowed to participate by invitation of privilege and not right.

  137. Hunter says:

    Bob G. I don’t buy that for a moment. We are the customer! Not someone who needs their products.. Loss of customer focus is the first step to downfall.

    Customer firt. Period.

  138. John B says:

    OK, ignoring the question of having a single testing provider being a good idea or not, why did Microsoft go with the provider that most customers seem to think is inferior as the sole source of tests?

  139. Chance says:

    John,  I think it boils down to two seperate debates.  One being the decision to go with a single exam provider instead of continuing efforts with both providers.  The other being the rationale of partnering with an inferior provider.  With both of these debates being the current points of contention, I don’t think we can really ignore either.

    What I would suggest is that they test the waters, so to speak, on their new technology with both vendors prior to rolling it out.  Standardization of the exam experience (Q&A and Simulation questions in an adaptive format accompanied with a Performance based Virtual Lab) across the full range of exams is important to the success of what Microsoft wants to achieve in their "integrity and security" goals.  Taking away availability of exams to those of us who sit these exams is not, IMHO, beneficial to anyone on either side.

    I know I’ve been considerably more vocal on this than most, but I can’t help but play "point-counterpoint" with those who think this is actually a good idea.  

  140. Larry West MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, etc. says:

    I’ll try to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps they have a "new technology" that Prometric was willing to implement, but Vue wasn’t. This is doubtful since Vue apparently doesn’t know the reason for the change, but if this is the case, Microsoft should say so. If it is "top secret," they don’t need to say what the technology is, but given Prometric’s shortcomings, they should tell us why they feel Prometric was so much better in their eyes than Vue.

    And Trika, for me it’s not just the geographic availability of testing centers, but also the number of working machines at each center. The three nearest Prometric sites to me have 2, 1, and 3 testing computers, respectively, some of which may be broken. The three nearest Vue sites: 13, 12, and 16. (There are additional Vue sites that I have not tested at.) I believe available computers in my town will drop by 90% (100% on weekends), making the few remaining computers have far less available testing times. As I said in another post, I am worried that when it comes time to renew my MCPD and MCITP, that there won’t be any available testing times to renew it during the renewal window.

  141. Catwalker says:

    I feel the need to add that I too hate Prometric.  I hate them with enough passion that I will not be taking any more MS Exams.  I know this doesn’t make a dent in the $$ MS rakes in, but they’ve very nearly lost me as a customer altogether anyway.  I hate Vista and Office 2007 as well.  And I’ve been a proponent of MS products in the past.  This year I switched to linux at home and this latest MS debacle only reinforces that decision.

    As for MS’s official reasoning for making this decision, please forgive me if I don’t believe a word.  Smells like putrescent bovine waste product to me.  

  142. Chance says:

    You know, the MCP flash update is ALMOST just as vague as the original announcement.  

    The following is excerpted from the official Prometric announcement:

    >>"Prometric is widely recognized and established across the IT industry as the leading provider of certification exams, with some of the world’s largest technology companies relying on us for their testing needs."

    Somebody’s just going to have to prove to me that this statement is in fact true.  We all know that every company in the world thinks they are the "leader in their industry" or "the best at what they do".  But until we some improvement on the availability of quality testing centers that are available in areas where there is little to no availability, I’m not going to be convinced that that this may have been the right choice after all.

    Microsoft has GOT to release a tenative plan very soon on how they are addressing the problems of availability far enough in advance that the community can react.  If not, then I’m quite sure that many others will begin to follow Catwalker’s lead, assuming they have not begun to already.

  143. Prof Dan says:

    I’m not going to argue or complain about access, drive times, or distance.  In fact our local community college maintains a Prometric/VUE combo center, such that the exact same hardware specifications are used for both testing services.

    As an IT professor who channels his students into the correpsonding exams, my complaint is the consistent incompetence of the Prometric company.  The telephone service is poor, and most of the people who take the calls are incompetent; the website is poorly designed and forces my students to have to buy vouchers (which typically have an upcharge) instead of being able to register for the academic pricing online, like with VUE; even with the exact same hardware in place at the center, I have consistently experienced myself (or been told by my students) the constant Prometric SOFTWARE crashes.

    I can even deal with money being a driving factor, but money works both ways… losing your "certifying customers" and the market support they provide in the IT community for your products is going to cost a lot more than a few dollars you save from not co-supporting VUE.

    As for the arguements about secuirty and integrity – you must be joking, right?  The question pools are the same for both companies, so a braindump works at either one… payoffs will continue to find people more than willing to sit for an exam, snap some covert photos, and gather question data and violate NDAs, no matter how much security you put in place.  

    Combine this with the fact that, if there isn’t a contractual obligation for Prometric to improve their testing environment, there is absolutely no reason that Prometric would be motivated to change the status quo – least of all out of "good will" for Microsoft’s needs.

    BTW, as an MCSE:Security person and one who makes decisions on curriculum for my IT program, this is just another "wedge" issue that Microsoft has unnecessarily created.  It further reduces my desire to upgrade my own MCSE, and represents more headaches to continue to train for Microsoft under the new certification regiment.  I’m going to have to redsign classes when the 2003 certifications are discontinued anyway, and you just keep giving me more excuses to consider switching to a Linux or Novell-based curriculum instead…

    Good planning, Microsoft.  Maybe it will mean more to you when colleges start re-routing their students on to alternative platforms…

  144. hartplaza says:

    Chance quoted: >>"Prometric is widely recognized and established across the IT industry as the leading provider of certification exams, with some of the world’s largest technology companies relying on us for their testing needs."

    That’s why Cisco chooses for VUE ??

  145. Chance says:

    don’t forget hartplaza…I’m against the Prometric thing as well.  You should read the post fully before reacting.  And yes, I believe better service and support is exactly the reason Cisco chose Vue.

  146. Andy (ajs1976) says:

    I had an exam at Prometric on Friday.  At the end of the exam, I had a 20 question customer satification survey.  Most of the questions were about the registration proces, the exam center, and the whole testing experience.  I don’t remember having that detailed of a suvery after my exam in February, so maybe they are working on improving things.

  147. hartplaza says:

    Chance,.. I read the post fully, I know you are (like me) pro VUE, that’s why I repeated your quote and mentioned that CISCO did make the right decision,….

  148. Larry West, MCSD, MCPD, MCITP, MCTS, ... says:

    Chance:

    The MCP Flash is also wrong about new elective items for the MCSA 2000, unless they haven’t updated their websites yet.

    I hope the welcome kits are delayed because they are improving them. If that happens, then we know that they are listening to our complaints.

    What is happening to Microsoft Learning? It seems like the wheels are coming off the bus. I like the fact that the questions are now shorter, but everything else is going in the wrong direction.

  149. Chance says:

    hartzplaza:  For the record, my bad.  thanks for the clarification.

    Larry:  I’m inclined to agree with you on MSL seemingly suffering from a slight case of insanity.  New director, new direction, partnering with Prometric…it all points to some real issues that need to be thought out better.

    OK, they’re reacting openly to the welcome kits, but not to the whole Prometric partnership thing?  Yeah, maybe they’re listening, but are we sure they’re doing something about the important stuff or is this just a distraction?

    Also, just as a note, this last MCP Flash was also lacking considerably in fluff text and usable content.  Most of it was a mirror of what’s been on the blog, where that hasn’t been the case in previous editions.

  150. Bob G. says:

    The truth revelead: Martin Bean, once the CEO of Prometric, now works for MS.

  151. Stephen Rea says:

    Hey Bob,

    As much as I am against this decision I would say this is merely a coincidence and nothing more. I wouldn’t read into it too much. He is the type to bounce around form company to company, From Thompson, which he came over from Sylvan I believe to New Horizons and now (well it’s been a while) Microsoft.

  152. joseph says:

    Dear Microsoft–

    rom a practical standpoint you’ve probably done little to accomplish your goals.  Since test centers are funded based on # of exms they provide, and most centers teach and test for both Cisco and Microsoft, the dual decisions by both companies to each use only one vendor will simply mean that most companies will now have to become partners with both agencies to continue business as usual.

    All this effort and jumping through hoops for so little gain — what were they thinking???

  153. Hunter says:

    What does it take to get an official recognition of the complaints we have about this move from MS? I thought 153 comments would be enough but apparently not.

    http://frenchfamily.org/hunter/?p=202

    We are all Microsoft Frustrated Professionals.

  154. Stephen Rea says:

    Hey Hunter, while the image you made is cute and all you may want to remove it. It is a violation of the MCP Logo Guidelines…

  155. skuba says:

    Not a smart move at all. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with Prometric, and never had a problem with Vue.  

  156. Hunter says:

    I took the "Microsoft Frustrated Professional" graphic down at the encouragement of Stephen Rea who says it is against the MCP logo guidelines. Given the current environment for MCPs I guess Stephen is right and the MS enforcement squad would have hassled me about it..

  157. Hunter says:

    Btw, Stephen, I love the VUE MCP exam discount code on your Linked-In page.. I found it quite ironic given the current discussion about the move to prometric.

  158. Wayniack! says:

    I work for a computer training school which is also a testing center. We recently dumped Prometric in favor of Vue because PROMETRIC MICROSOFT EXAMS WOULD RARELY INITIALIZE PROPERLY!!!! Once I missed my exam appointment because their system failed to list my reservation on the day for which I had scheduled it. The next day it listed me as a no show. I had to fight with them to get them to issue me another voucher and then they wouldn’t even admit that it was their error. They called it a ‘one-time courtesy’. There’s really nothing good about Prometric. Since we’ve switched to VUE, our students and outside clients are much happier. We’re a Microsoft Partner and official training center and we think this move is LAME!

  159. Stephen Rea says:

    Well that VUE discount code will work right up till the end so I have no plans to remove it until then. Plus I think I’m in denial.

  160. Stephen Rea says:

    In fact if anyone wants to take 20% off their final VUE exam. 🙂

    Use this discount code: MSUU7C1E9359

  161. Andy says:

    That code is invalid. Use this one instead: MSUU6C8E2138

  162. Hunter says:

    I have been greatly disappointed with Microsoft’s move to select Prometric as its sole provider for certification exams. In reading back through their explanation for this move I was struck by this statement, “By working with one exam delivery partner, Microsoft Learning will be able to get more efficient–ultimately improving how things go for you when you’re working on a Microsoft Certification.” Did anyone catch their logic? By reducing partners quality is increased. What if we extended that logic to training/preparing for the exam?

    Let’s say Microsoft selected a national training partner, we’ll come up with a fictitious one and call it "Hew Norizons." Now, after selecting this new training partner all of the other MCTs would find themselves either applying to work at Hew Norizons, cross training on other non-Microsoft technologies, or finding a new line of work. Seem crazy? Sure it does but it does fit the logic of "fewer partners equals better quality."

    What if Microsoft Press was the only company selected to produce learning materials? We could, by Microsoft’s logic, improve quality, right? Think you would pay more for the books – you bet. I bet the other publishers would be sorry.

    Microsoft’s move to select Prometric creates a monopoly in the Microsoft testing arena. It just does. This is the same type of strategy has put them in hot water in jurisdictions all over the globe. I would have thought that Microsoft would have stayed away from anti-competitive strategies but I guess they have a short organizational memory. When monopolies are formed everyone looses. Quality doesn’t come from eliminating choices – it comes from creating them.

    We don’t want a world with one training company, one publishing company, or one testing company. It hurts the test takers, the vendors, and ultimately Microsoft itself.

    (This is a blog post from:

    http://frenchfamily.org/hunter/?p=209)

  163. Tom says:

    In the south of Ireland there are only 3 Prometric test centres and 8 VUE centres. As a VUE test centre (and an ex-Prometric one) it is easy to understand why. VUE is much easier to deal with than Prometric. MS moving solely to Prometric will decrease the availability of MS exams in Ireland. Why do they want to do this?

  164. Jonathan MCT says:

    I had to post in response to this move. I cannot for the life of me see how Microsoft got this so wrong. I just spent 30min on the phone to reschedule my exam. The customer service from Prometric varies from "just plain sucks" to "doesn’t exist at all and they don’t care"

    I CAN NOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I HATE H_A_T_E PROMETRIC

    CAN ANYONE IN MICROSOFT HEAR ME (besides poor Trika whom I don’t blame for this ridiculous decision)

    Microsoft Execs – step up and do the right thing – reverse this decision to use Prometric.

  165. Stephen Rea says:

    MY code is not invalid.

  166. Kevin Carson says:

    I have never been as dissappointed with Microsoft in general, and with the grand strategies they employ, in particular, as I am now.

    As an early advocate of MS when Novell and Sun were king, I saw things that excited and interested me.  Today, I don’t understand your reasoning or business decisions. And like so many others,

    I don’t wait anxiously for your next software (or press) release.  

    I think you should hire some more bright MBAs.  A few more should do it.

  167. David says:

    As long term manager of  vue test centre (8 years) which mainly does Microsoft testing for our students plus various outsiders as and when, VUE have always been superb on instant technical support and all the exams have always worked, results have always been correctly and quickly uploaded – having to now get accredited with and set up Prometric as well or instead, retrain  administrators and all the other slog is just a load of long winded hassle that I could really do without. It will also mean our many regular customers will have to change over to thomson as well. WHY?????:-(

  168. Mark Spanner says:

    Of my personal experience in the UK the move to Prometric is a headache.

    I have never used a Prometric test centre and cannot comment on their abilities.

    However compared to VUE booking an exam is 10x worse – the Prometric system for booking is downright disgraceful for a global company.

    I also join the ranks of people who now have to travel 3 times the distance for my nearest test centre. Instead of taking half a working day to do an exam I have to take a full one – I’m sure my company will love that.

    I’m glad Microsoft can deliver better certification through this move – shame my experience has become a nightmare.

  169. Art says:

    I agree, this is one of the dumbest moves Microsoft has ever made. I work with the military and they have established over 50 VUE testing centers world wide to handle exams. We have 11 VUE centers here in Hawaii and only three Prometric centers. How can this possible be better for us. the customers????

  170. Bahamasboy says:

    wHAT aBOUT us!!  I live in the Bahamas.  I use Vue to take my certs.  There isn’t a Prometric center in over here to my knowledge.  I am not able to travel to the US and neither do i prefer to.  I must now reconsider my certifation options unless I can study for 5 more exams by December.

    This ain make no sense.

  171. hartplaza says:

    I received some good news in this… Prometric is opening a test facility soon, near mine area. One of the VUE centers is willing to give Prometric a try. They don’t know exactly yet when they start, they are working on the last details.

  172. Robert Andrade says:

    I have to agree with whoever said this was a bad decision.  I have taken exams with Prometric and I was disappointed with their facilities.  

    I also have to agree with the person who lives in a Rural area; the closest PV is 10 minutes way whereas the closest Prometric is 3 hours away.

  173. Eduardo says:

    bad bad bad decision! Vue system are widely better! vue’s website, exam buy, support & contact

    Today I called Prometric to apply the MCT discount and they tell me that I must obtain a voucher code to apply when I’m buying, but did not specified WHERE to get this voucher! Prometric support Realy s*x!! MS, PLEASE come back to vue! it’s better to all people getting certified! it’s simple, just read the comments above

  174. Larry says:

    I bet that Microsoft will be back to VUE in less than 2 years. VUE is far better than Prometric.

  175. Michelle says:

    The following message was sent to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation after reading some of these blog messages.

    Bill and Melinda Gates-

    In your quest to make lives better for others around the globe, with your foundation.  I find it very interesting that Microsoft exams have to be taken at a single vendor location, Prometric, starting September 1st 2007. Pearson Vue has offered quality testing options to underserved populations in an attempt to help individuals get degrees with reputable establishments; such as Western Governors University. Many student’s seek a degree to make his or her life “better”. Your company’s decision to limit testing locations will now cause many students to withdraw and find another educational path.

    I had a brother who enrolled at a school that was teaching Microsoft programs. The company went bankrupt, leaving my brother to pay back a 10,000 debt he could not afford for an education he never received. It took him six years of scrimping and saving to pay his loan back. I was so sad for him. His opinion was that Microsoft should do more to ensure quality education through establishments that are reputable.

    Maybe Microsoft should focus more attention on accessible, quality education at the same time they are concerned about their precious exams.

    I am sure your organization does great things however, maybe you should be focused on your company’s campaigns, of reaching out, before you embark on more lofty goals.

  176. Drew Lyle says:

    Trika:

    This is a horrible decision on Microsoft’s part.  The nearest Prometric testing center to me is a 2 hour drive (4 hours round trip).  Also, due to work and school obligations, I am pretty much limited to Saturday testing.  The nearest Prometric center with Saturday hours is 3 and a half hours a way.  2 hours is unacceptable and 3.5 hours is incomprehensible.  If Microsoft is really going to stick with Prometric only, my days of Microsoft exams will be done.

    It makes no sense to eliminate Pearson-Vue.  Many of the colleges in the area are Pearson Vue and these tend to have a much nicer environment and much more stable PCs than several of the fly by night Prometric operations I’ve been to.

    I think Microsoft is making a horrible decision here that they will regret.

    Thanks

    Drew

  177. Jamdown in Ohio says:

    Oh crap.  I just failed 72-620 (Vista) in my final MS test at Vue (by 17 points).  I rushed it just a bit to get it in because the nearest prometric is 55 miles away.  I should have bought a book and practised with more than 125 questions.

    Plus as one person said, the Vue website is so much cleverer.  

  178. Steve says:

    I used VUE, because they had a testing center at a community college 40 minutes away. I could go there after work, as they stayed open late.  With Prometric, I will have to travel 2.5 hours (one-way, 5 hours total) AND take a whole day off work (using vacation time), as their testing center is not open Saturdays. (Not open late in evening either, btw).

    Microsoft is a business, so they are looking at the bottom line. Apparently they feel that whatever $$ savings they earned more than offset the hardship we will have to endure, or simply give up on testing.

    I’m sure the original blogger has never come back to read the comments left here, so I’m wasting my time even leaving a comment.  But, it tells you what Microsoft things of the people trying to better themselves by earning a few certificates.

    There is NO win-win. Only MS and Prometric gain by this move, we all lose.

  179. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Hi, Steve. I read the comments. I don’t think you’re wasting your time, and I respect the many customers who are making the (not insignificant effort) to better themselves with IT training and certification. I understand that your center shutting down makes this effort even harder, but my hope is that in the not-too-distant future, a Prometric center will open up closer to you than 2.5 hours. they are adding a lot of centers and a lot of VUE centers will add Prometric as a provider. I also recommend that you send an e-mail to msledp@microsoft.com and make it clear to them that evening testing and weekend hours are critical to you. The Prometric team gets those e-mails and while their centers make that decision on a case by case basis, it can’t hurt to have their HQ understand the need from the community directly. They won’t make new policies if no one is asking for them, so make yourself heard when you want something. We need to hear it. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Best regards,

    Trika

  180. Steve says:

    OK, I just sent email to the email address you provided.

    Since I posted, I went back to triple-check; I’m in Idaho; Prometric has TWO testing locations, the CLOSEST is 2.5 hours away (one-way).  Vue has FIVE locations.  Could part of the decision be that customers/users "out in the hinterland" don’t matter as much?

    For a side bit of humor, the first MS exam I ever took was win95. It was in a rural airport hanger (because they gave FAA exams also, I guess), and during the exam someone came in and started printing off a bunch of stuff on a noisy dot-matrix printer, plus, he was highly annoyed that anyone was in their ‘computer room’.

    Steve

  181. James says:

    An exam costs me £113 as I can take it localy.

    Now I have to spend £70 to get to the UK (I live on an island), £130 to stay over night, take 2 days holiday and still have to pay £113 for the exam…..which I may fail !

    Cheers MS you have really shafted me again.

  182. Steve says:

    Trika, just a followup.

    I emailed msledp@microsoft.com 6 days ago, and have not received so much as an automated reply.

    While I didn’t expect a personal reply, some sort of automated reply would have at shown me that they at least received the email.  As it is, this only confirms my original thinking (which I won’t re-hash here).

    Steve

  183. George says:

    I still wonder why they are going with Prometric as sole provider, just  couple weeks go I sat 70-291, to my annoyance all Prometric testing centres were full, and I did manage to book one in only to be told by Prometric that it was a problem with their website and that centre wasnt even opened yet!!! Luckily I had a Vue login also, I logged in and their were appointments everywhere…so the next day in I went…I hope they open more Prometric centres because no availability can be very frustrating….

  184. Sanjay says:

    As an employee of a testing center that has been VUE for many years, and is now both VUE and Prometric… what a huge difference! VUE people are polite, have product knowledge, and their tech support answers the phone promptly. And their software is far superior. Prometric software is like an antique. Even their manuals are poorly written (very, very bad). We have only done three tests and we’re already broken down. Call tech support and expect to wait an hour (really!) for them to answer the phone and when they do, they’re not technical nor are they supportive. If you don’t like the answer you got from tech support, call One this morning was fascinated that I can sit at my desk and remotely control the server in the next room. Here They have a chat, but it’s type a line, wait 20 minutes for a response, type a line wait…

    I would never have dreamed any company could be this bad at every aspect, technical ability, quality of product, customer service.

  185. Sanjay says:

    Sorry, I meant to say for them to answer the phone and when they do, they’re not technical nor are they supportive. If you don’t like the answer you got from tech support, call back later and you’ll get a different answer.

    Please Microsoft, dump Prometric.

  186. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Steve, no reply? That’s crap service. Please forward your mail to me.

    All, keep your comments coming, but make sure you cut and paste anything you say here to msledp@microsoft.com, too.

  187. Brian says:

    I just heard about this today – guess I’ve been living under a rock – and wow, this is a horrible, horrible thing for those of us in rural areas.

    I’m also in Idaho. Thankfully, I only have to drive about two hours (one way.) But that’s instead of stopping by the local community college (on the way to work!) I’ll have to drive 110 miles and take at least one day off work (uncompensated, of course.) So all of a sudden my exams cost:

    exam cost + tank of gas ($35?) + 1 day’s lost wages. Minimum.

    Unless my employer decides to compensate me for these additional costs (which won’t be happening, ever) I will not be getting my ’08 certs.

    I finished my MCSE ’03 a few months back, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did. I guess that will be my last Microsoft cert until I move to a more urban area – if ever.

    It seems incredibly disingenuous on the part of Microsoft to say that this change was made to improve the exam experience for US – those professionals who choose Microsoft certifications for career advancement or knowledge enhancement. This is an obvious bottom-line move. Hopefully the profit generated by it will be enough compensation to offset the ill will generated amongst your customers.

    (This has also been CCd to msledp@microsoft.com)

  188. Disapponted In Ma says:

    I am extremely disappointed with the entire Prometric Roll Out. I have spent hundreds – yes Hundreds – of hours on the phone with their so-called tech support. i call this wasted time because each of my issues should have been answered within a matter of seconds. It is apparent that Prometric has hired a lot of first line support eople who have IM contact with their second level support group. My favorite is when I ask a question and I don’t even get acknowledged for about 10 minutes when i stop hearing the rep breathe in my ear so I ask…. Are you sill there? Only to be answered with, yes, can I put you on hold for a minute. As has been my experience for weeks, I called today. i reached someone who tried to help me(I think) after 45 minutes, he thought I should call customer care because it wasn’t a technical issue… Did he think I might have been better off with that answer 45 minutes before? I agree it wasn’t a technical quesiton, but his # was the only one I had. So I called the customer care number and ended up in the same department! Another favorite, I was on the phone with them for 8 hours while they tried to figure out an exam download problem. He couldn’t figure it out, so he told me to install service pack2 and call him back. I knew this was not the right answer, but what could I do? I installed SP2, called back and they were shut down for the night (He wanted to go home! Nice 24hr support) Speaking of 24hr support, anyone talk to Malaysia yet? They like to answer the phone, but have absolutely no resources to get into the US database… I love when they wait an hour to tell you that one. Now I ask where they are before I start…. I could go on for days!!!! Vue had it’s flaws, but nothing compared to these guys. I understand why they needed to hire so many people. Testing centers can do absolutely nothing by themselves, everything needs to be called in. Our systems are top of the line and the program runs like a dos on a turtles back.

    You can’t have a quick conversation with them, I think they may average 3 calls a day(If they are lucky)

    Good Luck Folks… And please don’t blame the messenger (The testing centers)

  189. ZIQILIN says:

    Prometric is nightmare for me.

    I took 2 days and still can not register on their web site to schedual a test.

    Why MS made this decission to make the tester frustrated?

    Because MS get more rebate from Prometric?

  190. tester says:

    I took the test and however their test delivery failed twice in 15 min. The last fail never get recovered after one hour waiting.

    But fortunately, I got full refund after I wasted half day off for test.

  191. Chris says:

    PROMETRIC SECURITY RISK All ive got to say is if you used Prometric in the past.. all of your account infomation, includeing your social security code, is still in their system and is displayed as your Testing ID. It is very publicly visible infomation on any Prometric Testing console at any testing facility. Prometric is a major security risk. Personally I had to call and have them remove my social from their database and have them generate one of their new Testing IDs for my account. Even if you reregister now you get tied to your old account.

  192. Josh says:

    On the user support end I would readily agree that prometric is too far outsourced and engineered down just to be cost effective on their side. Its a frustrating exsperience for both testers and administrators.

    I agree that due to the longterm dissaproval of prometric has led to a scant selection of centers. I think we would all need to be patient as more centers will be setting up, as many are currently in the process of moving over from vue and getting their test administrators prometric certified.. a test that if you havent taken you have no ground to complain about poorly written exams… as this is the worst test imaginable.

    But lastly are the technical issues. Delivery failures, server communication failures.. all of them.. Tend to be operator error. The prometric system isn’t perfect but it tends not to be THE reason for their errors.

    The centers that have technical problems have those problems on a regular basis. While many centers wont record major issues for months at a time. It is clearly an issue of local operators.

    Prometric has its share of problems but with major changes going on in their own administration waiting a few months to see how they revamp their company isnt that unrealistic.

    Just because VUE was familiar, friendly, and simple doesnt mean it was efficent or secure.

    Ease and comfort seem to be the major cause for complaint so far.

  193. Tom says:

    We’ve been a VUE Centre for a while and been relatively happy. Now I’m trying to become a Prometric centre and finding it a nightmare. Their testing system in rubbish. It imposes all sorts of ridiculous requirements on the machines- Internet Explorer 6, English (United States) as the language (I’m in Ireland), the testing system must run on a Domain Controller…, I could go on. Installing brings up error messages which you are told by techncial support (after hanging on for ages) are normal.

    In general it seems a badly designed and implemented system. VUE was much more elegant and easy to use.

    It seems to me that this was a problem that Microsoft had which they solved by making it a problem for VUE test centres rather than solving it by employing more programmers. They have plenty of money after all.

    Are you listening Microsoft?

  194. dusk1911 says:

    Micrsoft is just dooming it’s fate, not only is prometric a bad experience , but now they have the upper hand and no COMPETITION WHAT SO EVER, accordingly my exam which was 50$ is now 150$. i really dont know what to say except i wish i chosen to become a LINUX PRO.

  195. Steve says:

    previous comment:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/trika/archive/2007/07/06/microsoft-learning-announces-prometric-as-exam-provider.aspx#4652027

    Just for what its worth, trika perhaps you can use this info.  I paid for and scheduled several exams at VUE just prior to cut-off date (scheduled for various times prior to December31).  The test center is a local community college. I spoke with them yesterday, and asked it they are going to sign up with prometric. The person said that they had applied, but had no clue what was going on with prometric, but that it looks like they won’t ultimately be signing up, since it seems that the process is simply not moving forward, due to prometric.  What exactly the problem is, she was not going to share with me, of course. But she definelty did not seem to think the test center would be signing with prometic. Also, she mentioned that some testing organization that they fall under (colleges, testing centers in general, not sure?) was going to be or had already contacted microsoft to complain about prometic.  Rather vague and second hand, I know, so take it for what its worth.

    Just wanted to vent (again) about this strange decision.

    Steve

  196. Kim says:

    I strongly disagree with the (only) person who says the problems with Prometric are operator error. The many, many centers that dealt with VUE and now must deal with Prometric will tell you the same thing… VUE has a superior UI, is much more stable, and the staff has a thousand-times more product knowledge than the Prometric employees. VUE tech support:pleasant, educated. Prometic tech support: rude, mumbling, ignorant – even about their own product.

  197. James Hall says:

    Very disappointing! I have been taking certification exams for MS certs for over a decade. VUE *always* did a better job. Competition is almost always a good thing for customers. So frankly it surprising MS has given us a choice for as long as they have.

  198. Jackie Ralph says:

    I work for a testing centre in the Uk and in the past 5 days I have spent nearly 3.5 hours on the phone to the Prometric Helpdesk.  In each instance it was because the candidate had been ‘timed out’ of the exam after between 10 and 20 minutes; these being Microsoft exams of between 2 hours and four hours in duration.  Most candidates are nervous enough about taking their exams and having to wait for sometimes over an hour before they can re-take the test does nothing to help.  We NEVER have these types of problems with VUE.  I have asked the Prometric team why this error keeps occuring and they just answer ‘that they are working on it’! Other problems that candidates experience are freezing of the screens for up to 1 minute and being ‘booted’ out. As a centre we earn approx £3 per exam and we are seriously considering shutting down the Prometric seats until these ‘glitches’ are rectified.  I only hope that all you testing candidates out there can try and be patient with the administrators at the centres who, I am sure, like me are trying their very best to get the problems sorted out as quickly as possible.

  199. Bindu says:

    Very sad decision indeed. Last year I was able to take 70-315 with VUE and obtained the MCP certification. The entire test experience was a breeze.

    This year I am in the process of taking more Microsoft tests and having trouble registering with Prometric. Firstly, thier web site doesn’t work or it shows wrong data. I live in Roanoke VA and no test center is listed for Prometric. VUE has 2 test centers in Roanoke, VA.

    I call the customer service but no luck. Terrible background noise during the call. The rep was able to locate a test center and she took all my information to find out that their scheduling system is down. Frustrating. I can’t register through the web site because test center doesn’t show and calling customer service doesn’t help. I am stuck.

  200. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Hi, Bindu, james, Jackie, all. If you haven’t already, PLEASE send your comment to msledp@microsoft.com. Even if they can’t go back and make it right on the experience you’ve had… they should be aware of problems you are having to fix them now and in future. Bindu, if you still haven’t registered, pls send your request to the MSLEDP@microsoft.com address and ask for the help getting you scheduled. Let me know how that goes.

  201. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Bindu, I heard that they just opened a center in Roanoke. Did you find that?

  202. Anormal says:

    This is a small yet satisfying piece of news.  VUE screwed me on several exams because of their policy on when the exam clock starts.  I have always been told by instructors that when you first sit down for an exam that you should take a couple deep breaths then start to write things down from memory onto the whatever materials are provided.  When you are ready to test – start the exam and go for it.  Well, under VUE’s rules, this is not a possibility.  When you first sit in the chair for the exam, the test director will start the test session for you.  This actually starts the clock as well.  If you go in thinking the rules are the same as Prometric then I have news for you.  read the testing rules carefully.  They are NOT the same rules as Prometric and therefore, in my opinion, are intentionally deceitful.  You WILL run out of time if you are not careful.  I say: "good riddens to you now and go straight to hell, do not go past Go, do not collect any more voucher money for Microsoft exams, and live happy off the money you stole form me.  I now only hope that VUE will go out of business for their deceitful testing practices.  If you are testing for a Microsoft exam then the rules should be the same no matter who the test provider is.   If the rules aren’t the same then the exam is not the same and the playing field is altered.  These exams are hard enough without these losers tossing deceitful practices into the mix.

  203. Thomas Gooding-Hill says:

    I too am a little disappointed, having used VUE for my entire testing experience so far (13 MS exams) I have had no issues at all.  I have now come to book my final Exchange 2007 MCITP exam and discover that I have a 5 week wait.  I used to be able to book exams with VUE at 2-3 days notice all the time…

    Its not looking good….

  204. Sean D. says:

    Prometric just called me to inform me they lost my test results for Microsoft test 070-296.  Thats the last of the win2k to win2k3 MCSE upgrade tests. THEY LOST THE RESULTS COMPLETELY!   Here’s the real kicker.  It took them 2 weeks to tell me this (they said it would be 3-5 business days) and in that time the test has EXPIRED!  MS no longer offers the test.

    I was already angry that the test itself hung several times wasting several minutes of test time.  The last time it hung I had 3 questions left and 3 minutes (not impossible, but tight) and I click the "next question" button and stare at a white screen…. NOTHING!  I wave at the guy and he comes over and just starts arguing with me that this is how the tests are and its normal.  I noticed they are using ancient piece of crap computers (not even the same).  One was a consumer model Compaq PC I recall having fixed once like 7 years ago.  Anyway, while arguing with him the test finally comes back up (minus 1 minute on the clock!) and this guy is still yapping away at me… I finally gave him the hand and said "your wasting my time".  And finished the test with the last two questions unanswered.  It was after that their whole system crashed (while I was in the comments section of the test).  The guy next to me also crashed and the jerk from the testing center runs around frantically pushing reset on everything… I think he even rebooted the server!

    I hung around for another hour and the rude guy who was arguing with me before gives me a ticket number and tells me to call the 800 number for prometric.  Woman on the phone says shes having computer problems (not kidding here) and puts me on hold for 10 minutes. After that she comes back only to tell me that it will 3-5 days for my results.  I offered to retake the test right now and she said no. I explained to her that the test will expire soon and she made some phone calls and came back and said sorry 3-5 days.  Everyone assured me they had my test results, it was just a matter of processing.

    The level of incompetence of their systems and customer service (which wouldn’t be necessary had their systems functioned properly) is really astounding.  I will never give prometric another dime of my money.  I don’t care if they are the only MS cert provider.  I don’t need the MS certification that badly anyway, with my experience I can get work without it.  I will probably pursue non-microsoft certs (Cisco or Linux) until an alternative to Prometric is offered, if I pursue any certification at all that is.  

    I now sit here just fuming… (my case is being "escalated") and day dream of starting a class action lawsuit against them with all the other people who I’m quite sure have fallen into the same situation as me.  I don’t believe for a second that this is a rare occurrence.

  205. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Wow, Sean. That really sucks, a ridiculous amount. Will you please send that story to msledp@microsoft.com and copy me? Thank you.

  206. David says:

    Sean, welcome to Prometric World.

  207. Tim says:

    I have ran a testing centre in the UK for about 8 years as Pearson VUE, and when Microsoft Switched to solely Prometric testing. Then I entered the hell that is the Prometric testing system. There isn’t a day that goes by without hiccups, hanging screens, booting out of exams, system crashing. We have had complaints about our machines but all exceed the required specification for prometric. Today we have spent over an hour on the phone and got no answer when an exam with simulations did allow the candidate to do anything on the simulated desktop. The support for Prometric is shocking, ideally there should be some technical support training (None offered to me) as candidates look to the administrator. Also they are under the illusion that being a test center is lucrative business, but £3 for an exam when we have to do so much more than just sign people in and out.

    My hands are tied because we are a training center and the main reason for us being a testing center was so our students could take their exams with us. So my hands are tied, I understand the frustrations of candidates but it’s also frustrating for the administrators too.

  208. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Hey, Tim. Thanks for posting. Have you contacted our team at msledp@microsoft.com to make sure someone over here hears that? Please do…

  209. Jim K says:

    I was scheduled to take an exam this morning at 9am.  After 4 reboots on 2 PCs and only getting through 8 of 40 questions, the testing admin suggested that I reschedule.  The strange thing is that all the equipment at the testing center was top of the line/new stuff, but the testing engine was slow, hung, then aborted.

    Now I need to kill 4 hours on Sunday since I can’t take another 1/2 day off work to waste more time.

    Just my 2 cents and I know I’m piling on here, but I never had any technical issues when testing with Vue…

  210. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Jim, did you send this to msledp@microsoft.com? I know I’m a broken record here, but if these issues aren’t getting reported to our teams, they won’t be getting attention and be fixed so the next guy doesn’t have the same problem… Thanks for forwrading this to our team.

  211. Coralina Daly says:

    I am a testing administrator. I was not overly fond of Pearson Vue until Microsoft forced us to begin administering Prometric tests. I am extremely dissatisfied and implore Microsoft to reconsider. We have had to contact Prometric tech support for every test we’ve administered and they are less than helpful. It is bad service for the tester and I’ve even had proctors threaten to quit over dealing with Prometric. We’ve cut back drastically on our Prometric testing and no longer allow members of the public to test here. Not only do we not get paid, we endure extreme stress in the process.  Please go back to Pearson Vue!

  212. AspiringGeek says:

    I was agnostic about this decision until I began my SQL 2005 MCITP certs.

    I’ve taken numerous certification exams through Vue all without problem.  

    I’ve tried four certification exams now with Prometric & only one–count ’em–only one went without a hitch.  For one of my Prometric exams I had to return *three times* just to get the exam started.

    Bsed on my experience, Vue is clearly the superior provider.  From the student/customer perspective, moving to Prometric was a big mistake.

  213. manuel gonzales says:

    I have no choice in selecting which test provider I use.  Take it or leave it…So Who’s Your Daddy?

  214. Mike Donoghue says:

    Great job. Not! Prometric is horrible!! They have sent me to 3, count’em 3 testing sites that were abandoned buildings then refused to give me a refund.

    I use Vue for everything I can but since this switch I keep getting shafted. What can do you expect from the great minds that gave you Vista?

    (I am still on hold waiting for other people to vent so I can find test center #4)

  215. Jonathan Hughes MCT says:

    I am sitting in prometric on coit rd in Dallas,Tx right now. I waited 36min in a waiting room to take my exam which was scheduled at noon. I passed. I have been sitting here for going on 45min now, because they can’t print my exam results.

    why won’t Microsoft listen?

    now they just came to tell me – I can’t get a score report, and I have to call some 800 number

  216. manny gonzales says:

    I my experience using Prometric has been very problematic.  My two experiences show this.

    1) I unfortunately forgot to rescheduled an exam (70-526) due to Hurricane IKE in Houston, TX.  I explained my situation to a customer representative and also wrote a letter explaining my circumstance.  I was denied an opportunity to reschedule free of charge even as extreme circumstances as this.  

    2) During an offer to take any exam for 40% off(Microsoft Skills Week) I registered for an exam (70-549) in March of 2009.  I unfortunately failed my exam.  I contacted Prometric to retake the exam in the secondshot offer.  Prometric stated that I can only apply one voucher code at a time and that the Second Shot did not apply since I already applied the 40% off voucher.  I was unaware of this requirement. Now I must pay to retake the 70-549.

    My disdain for Prometric is growing and I hope Microsoft can review their performance from time to time for the benefit of other MCP’s and MCP canidates.

    Thanks,

    Manuel Gonzales

    MCIP# 1577038

  217. Ally says:

    Very disappointing.  I did all 7 MCSE exams at Pearson Vue..great choice of test centres and no problems getting appointments.  I would study, decide I was ready and do the exam the next day.  Not any more – here in Japan, Prometric require bookings 4 days in advance.  And when I tried to book today, EVERY centre near me is full.  I’m in central Tokyo yet I have to travel 1 hour to the nearest available test centre.  And woe betide anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese – no online applications.  You need to snail mail/fax application forms, then make a follow-up phone call  which means you need to book even further in advance.

    I don’t care if the decision wasn’t made lightly.  It was the wrong decision.  Saves money for Microsoft, at the expense of the exam takers.

  218. My first exam experience with Prometric was a disaster. I arrived 35 minutes early only to be told I would not be able to take the exam… the ONE computer they administered the exam on had crashed. They were on the phone with tech support the whole time I was there–about one hour–I traveled 60 miles to take the test only to have to reschedule it at another Prometric site 60 miles in the opposite direction.

    Prometric as of right now, in my mind, sucks.

  219. ThE WinDinGo says:

    oh yeah, I’ve been trying to schedule an appointment for days, and the webpage just freezes every single time… it really sucks!

  220. Eric Detwiler says:

    This is a horible move and as a result I am unlikely to do any more Microsoft certs.

    I live in Key West and the nearest Microsoft testing center is 4 hours away. The nearest VUE testing center is 5 miles away.

    Looks like Comptia, Vmware and Cisco certs for me.

    – E

  221. Aryan says:

    Took an hour to schedule an exam. Is it going to improve? Please Microsoft, listen us

  222. kaddair says:

    If anyone lives in Roanoke, Va, please do not go to the Prometric Center on Electric Rd. I drove four hours on snow covered roads to get there and was told that I could not take the exam due to inclement weather. I drove on snowy roads until about an hour before I got to Roanoke. At the site, the sun was shining and there was no snow on the roads. The test site coordinator Brandon was a jerk! He lied to Prometric and said people were no shows for their appointments. Actually, I was number five that he turned away. I will never go to this site. I would drive 10 hours before I had to look at him again.

  223. How long is this contract????? says:

    Please go back to Pearson Vue. It's been 3 very long years with Prometric and they have yet to improve their website. It's always timing out. I've literally been trying for 3 weeks to register for an exam online! Come on now this is ridiculous.

  224. PrometricSucks says:

    The website you are attempting to reach is temporarily unavailable due to scheduled maintenance.

    We apologize for any inconvenience.

    To register for an exam or to obtain further information, please visit the Prometric website.