Microsoft Revived MCSE Certification

by Dmitry Kirsanov 19. April 2012 17:45

MCSEWith a catch. The topmost certification for windows system administrators, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) got new name, while keeping the old abbreviation. Now it’s called Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.

No. Sorry. In fact, Microsoft created brand new certification, mixed products with the cloud and gave it the acronym of the most successful Microsoft’s certification, coincidentally abandoned since 2003.

A brief history of MCSE certification

For those of you, who didn’t follow, Microsoft’s MCSE certification was the most desired one for any Windows system administrator out there, since Windows NT 3.1 and right until the Windows Server 2008 came out. With Windows Server 2008, it was renamed to Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Enterprise Administrator. Or MCITP:EA for short.

The difference between the MCSE and MCITP:EA was that the first one was given for a lifetime. That’s right, specialists in Windows NT are still considered the MCSE, even though their knowledge from that time is irrelevant to modern environments.

For ten long years, MCSE was buried alive, waiting to extinct with the last working Windows Server 2003 R2 out there. Which, by the way, are still up and running even at quite “on the edge” IT companies.


That’s easy. Since the moment it was officially abandoned, training centers around the world had to invest huge deal of time and efforts into informing HR managers that MCSE is no more, and now it’s MCITP, MCTS, MCM, MCA, MC… Well, in fact, more than 40 different MCTS, quite a few MCITP and so on.

HR didn’t get it. Still, they are asking their certified peers on what would be the acronym for that kind of specialist, and in a few days later they still remember only one acronym – MCSE.

It was bright idea from the marketing perspective to reuse the MCSE label and stick the “20 years history” to it, even though there is no real connection between the two MCSE versions.

Also, in the list of buzzwords, the word “solution” is much more sellable than “engineer”, especially if you measure all the hatred Microsoft gather each time someone spell the MCSE in the geek crowd. Take a look at any thread in Slashdot since the beginning of times – each time someone mentioned MCSE, there was a long and insightful explanation about “why MCSEs are not engineers”. I think that also explains why new MCSEs are not engineers anymore.

Why new certification?

Microsoft tried it’s best to create the certification for Azure-based cloud solutions. And, in my opinion, failed didn’t enjoy much success. Microsoft tried to give huge discounts, provide free e-books, create contests – still, the public is not much interested, mainly because this certification is not oriented on how to create your own cloud, but how to most effectively (at which scale, that is) to use the Microsoft’s cloud.

While the full list of MCSE certifications is not known at the moment, I place my bet to see Azure in some of them.

Another reason could be the changed list of technologies Microsoft would like to promote be covered by new certifications, so MCITP:EA on Windows Server 2008 wouldn’t really cover the same bases as the new MCSE: Private Cloud, and methinks the latter is slightly more important one.

What is this new MCSE anyway?

The MCSE: Private Cloud is the same MCITP as before. But MCITP: Server Administrator was renamed back to MCSA, excerpt that now it’s “Solutions Associate”, and two new exams for System Center 2012 were added. This particular certification, in my opinion, is pretty much valuable, at least for the knowledge it covers.

The MCSA: SQL Server is what MCTS for SQL Server used to be. MCSE: SQL Server is the same as MCITP for SQL Server. The only difference is in version – if the MCTS/MCITP were covering the SQL Server 2008, the new certification is about SQL Server 2012. It has the same value as before.

The subtle message behind the new certification schema, in my opinion, is such: you are not at the top if you are not in the cloud. Even more subtle message could sound like “get high with Azure”. I mean – higher. To the cloud.

What’s new for developers?

The same. The MCSD certification, abandoned after .NET 1.1, is reloaded for Visual Studio 11. With the cloud in mind, and now we are talking about the Azure.


The new Microsoft certifications are about moving to the next level, not just to the next versions of the same technologies. While the naming is controversial and practical aspect of inclusion of some technologies like Azure is questionable, the overall value of new certification is definitely higher.

However, it will take some time and efforts to draw the optimal itinerary of your upgrade path if you are planning to take it any time soon.

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