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Microsoft certification changes coming with updated software releases

Here's what you should know about impending Microsoft certification changes after the Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 GA date announcement.

When new versions of Windows hit in October, so do changes to Microsoft certification. Here are the most important points to ponder about the upcoming Microsoft certification changes, as noted on a Microsoft blog.

  1. Microsoft will not change its examination numbers. This means upcoming Microsoft certification changes will act like an in-place upgrade. Check the Web pages with exam details as you study and prep for the exam.
  2. Exact timing information is not yet available. This information will appear on certification and exam detail pages when it becomes available. Those changes will take effect either in tandem with the general availability (GA) date for the new software versions of Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, or shortly after.
  3. Training content will be posted before updates take effect. Microsoft will make information available to cover pending exam-content changes before those changes are reflected in exam questions. This will probably happen in a series of TechNet articles or video-based training modules. These will most likely be recorded versions of JumpStart training modules, which were delivered in July and August.

Table 1: MS Certifications (and exams) with pending refresh content


Exam IDs

Exam Title

MCSA: Windows 8


Configuring Windows 8



Managing and Maintaining Windows 8

MCSA: Windows Server 2012


Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012



Administering Windows Server 2012



Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

MCSE: Server Infrastructure*


Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure



Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure

MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure*


Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure



Implementing Desktop Application Environments

MCSE: Private Cloud*


Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012



Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

Note: Items marked with an asterisk (*) have MCSA: Windows Server 2012 as a prerequisite, covering all MCSE entries in this table.

When refresh content was added in the past, Microsoft did so within 30 to 90 days of the official release date. The company could make the cutover coincide with the release date as an earliest-case scenario. Late January to mid-February in 2014 is 90 days from the GA dates, which sets the soonest and latest dates when the content refresh could occur.

Candidates for any of the aforementioned exams should stick to current coverage and content until Microsoft makes available new exam objectives, coverage information and training content. Only when Microsoft releases information about the pending cutover and its effective dates should those candidates start working on new material and content. I'm hopeful the company will give two to four weeks' notice of the impending cutover to give candidates ample time to prepare for certification changes. The company's attention to that need indicates that they understand this preparation is necessary and desirable for all parties concerned.

Now that we know the GA date for these software versions, Microsoft will divulge more details closer to their release.

About the author
Ed Tittel is a longtime computing industry guy who's been in and around the trenches for more than 30 years. He's also the author of HTML For Dummies, which first appeared in 1995 and for which a 14th edition is scheduled for 2013 release. In addition, Ed blogs on IT careers and certifications for TechTarget, Tom's IT Pro and, and on Windows topics for TechTarget as well.

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