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What the latest Microsoft Learning program changes mean for IT pros

A revamped design for the MS Learning site gives IT pros a look at some potential changes coming to certs -- new and old.

Microsoft updated its Microsoft Learning pages, which cover training and certification topics -- a possible sign of more changes to come. Some of changes are predictable -- moving to a Modern UI tile style and layout; others are more subtle -- reorganizing certifications by category and the renewed use of Microsoft Certified Professional terminology.

The new roadmap appears to be a housekeeping effort to remove mention of passé credentials and to focus on what's current and continuing into the future.

The new homepage for the Microsoft (MS) Learning program also breaks up training and certification content into a series of categories, including a collection of recent posts from the Born to Learn blog, which is a great source of training information. There's also a listing of top computer certifications that surprisingly includes the older and fading Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), along with newer certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD).

Windows pros can also expect to see a quote about computer certification benefits that regularly changes and a list area about what's popular now. It appears as though MS Learning is adopting a more social and convivial approach to training and certification that lets users drive topics and content onto the page.

What the changes to Microsoft Learning program training pages mean

When you follow the link behind the "Find Training" tile on the MS Learning homepage, the same categories appear, but a number of topics have been added to three of them:

MS Learning is targeting specific platforms or technology areas of great interest to training buyers in a number of certifications to some extent or in areas where MS sells an important platform -- namely, Microsoft Dynamics -- for which the company offers no certifications yet.

What's missing from the Microsoft Learning roadmap?

Sometimes the missing pieces of the Microsoft Learning program visualizations are as important as what's included. From looking over this latest roadmap, the older Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist and MCITP credentials, most of which are retired or scheduled to retire, are missing. (There are some exceptions noted in the Certification Topics section.) Likewise, the recently retired Master and Architect level certs, which were pulled out of circulation at the end of 2013, are also absent. The new roadmap appears to be a housekeeping effort to remove mentions of passé credentials and to focus on what's current and continuing into the future.

Based on what's apparent in the new structure and organization, I'll also speculate that Microsoft is bringing its application credentials based on Office, Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics into closer sync with its other certifications. I wouldn't be surprised to see Dynamics certifications appear in 2014 or 2015 as the company dives deeper into its popular line of business offerings. I also expect more credentials for Windows Phone, perhaps an MCSD of some kind, if the company maintains its investment in and focus on that platform.

Higher-ups in MS Learning have also indicated that Master- and Architect-level credentials may not be off the table forever. That status may change if the company can figure out a way to offer such senior certs at more reasonable prices and with broader appeal than earlier offerings.

About the author:
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year IT veteran who's worked as a developer, networking consultant, technical trainer, writer and expert witness. Perhaps best known for creating the Exam Cram series, Ed has contributed to over 100 books with titles on information security, Windows OSes and HTML. Ed regularly blogs for TechTarget's IT Career JumpStart and Windows Enterprise Desktop blogs, as well as on Tom's IT Pro and PearsonITCertification.com.

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