Microsoft is remaining officially mum on the subject, but sources inside and outside the company have recently let slip some details about a supposedly forthcoming new desktop technician certification program:
- Multiple sources indicate the program should launch soon, possibly as early as October.
- The primary target for the program is help desk and first line technical support personnel.
- The program focuses on Windows XP as the desktop platform, along with general application support.
- It is said to include two brand-new exams (with no reuse of MCP exam content): one for Windows XP and the other for application support.
The help desk arena is a technical area where organizations like STI Knowledge, the Service and Support Professionals Association and the Help Desk Institute have vendor-neutral certifications, but vendor-sponsored programs have been neither universal nor widely adopted when available.
The popularity of this new desktop certification will no doubt depend on what kind of value Microsoft places on individuals who hold this credential. For example, an organization with two or more MCPs (or employees with higher level certifications like MCSA or MCSE) can qualify for various Microsoft Certified Partner programs. For a reasonable annual fee, they provide yearly grants of license to software (including Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Professional, Office, and more), early access to beta releases and a TechNet subscription, along with special access to MS technical support. If Microsoft offers similar special deals to customers who staff help desks with certified personnel, this could spur participation and activity.
It will be interesting to see how -- or if -- this program unfolds and what kinds of incentives Microsoft will use to stimulate interest. One thing's for sure: With all the Windows technical support and end-user handholding that companies require, there is definitely a place for this credential inside enterprise help desk and technical support operations!
For more information, check out Keith Ward's recent story in MCP Magazine "Desktop Technician Cert on the Way?"
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the series editor of the Que Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and security certifications.