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Looking ahead to Windows 10 certifications

With Windows 10 and the next version of Windows Server expected to launch in 2015, it's time to get ready for new certifications.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview has been out since early October, 2014, long enough to go through several builds. This newest incarnation of Microsoft's client OS is going to introduce lots of changes, some designed to repair negative impressions from Windows 8, others to extend and improve upon Windows capabilities, boost performance and security, and so forth.

Based on what happened with Windows 8 and general changes to the ways in which Microsoft releases software and develops its related certification credentials, it's also time to start thinking about what's going to happen to those MS certifications related to client versions of Windows. Let's begin with a list of what's currently available, to provide a foundation for what's likely to appear (and disappear) within 6 months to a year of the Windows 10 GA date.

Current client focused Windows certifications include:

With the lack of an upgrade path from Windows 7 to Windows 8 for MCSAs, they should jump on Windows 8 sooner rather than later. Why? Because the end of mainstream support falls on January 13, 2015, after which only organizations that pay for Extended Support (which itself ends on 1/14/2020) can stay on this popular but aging OS. They'll want to upgrade their skills and knowledge to Windows 8 to help prepare to make a similar jump to Windows 10 within 12-18 months of its arrival in the second half of 2015. The last two client Windows versions have appeared in October of their release years; with Windows 10, it's possible that might happen earlier, perhaps in August or September, according to some sources.

As far as the shape of Windows 10 related certifications goes, I'd expect an MCSA/MCSE sequence very much like that for Windows 8 and 8.1 to emerge. Given that Microsoft Learning took over a year to get its courses and exams completed after Windows 8 shipped, I'm hopeful that they'll be able to synchronize things better for Windows 10. But given the company's new rapid release cadence and the difficulty of keeping exam and course coverage caught up with the current software, this is a situation that bears close attention to avoid unpleasant surprises. To its credit, Microsoft Learning's blog does an excellent job of keeping cert candidates posted on planned exam changes and their inception dates, so that's a source for good information to help you keep up with what's going on.

There will undoubtedly be two exams for the Windows 10 MCSA, with one related to installation, configuration, and deployment topics (like the 70-687 for Windows 8.1), and another related to support, maintenance, and troubleshooting (like the 70-688 for Windows 8.1). Likewise, I would expect a remake for the Enterprise Devices and Apps for Windows 10, again with two exams, where one deals with device and application imaging and set-up, configuration, and deployment (like the 70-695 exam), and another with managing, maintaining, and troubleshooting enterprise devices and apps (like the 70-696 exam).

The timing on these exams is bound to be interesting. Earlier, less volatile versions of Windows would see exams and curriculum released within 60-90 days of the GA date, but Windows 8/8.1 kept changing often enough to play hob with that schedule. My best guess is that Microsoft will do everything it can to get back on the familiar schedule with Windows 10, and pull those dates as close together as they can. It's not at all unlikely that by the end of 2015, the first crop of MCSAs on Windows 10 will be ready, with follow-on MCSEs three or four months behind that.

Though the timing may not be as predictable as anyone might like (including Microsoft) it's certain that the new client OS will introduce a new series of certifications soon after the platform's GA date. I'd also expect Windows 7 exams to be retired within 12 months of that date as well.

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I want to peruse certification, my goal being MCSE in devices and apps. Do you suggest I wait for the certifications to be updated after I get MTA certified in IT Infrastructure?