Microsoft forges exclusive testing deal with Pearson VUE
No need to climb under your desks or run and stand in a doorway. It's not an earthquake, just a seismic shift in the certification world. Microsoft Learning confirmed at the end of last week that it has entered into an exclusive partnership with certification testing provider Pearson VUE, a sort of marriage between Goliath and Goliath.
It's huge news for Pearson VUE, which already casts a long shadow over the realm of certification testing, and has now become the sole gatekeeper of a certification goldmine. Certification entities aren't always forthcoming with numbers, but Mircrosoft openly advertises on its IT Academy web site that it issues more than a million certifications every year.
The odd man out is rival testing provider Prometric, which will lose its longstanding affiliation with Microsoft Learning after Dec. 31. The writing has been on the wall for a while: Pearson VUE announced in June that it had entered a formal relationship with Microsoft, and Pearson VUE subsidiary Certiport (acquired in 2012) has partnered with Microsoft for more than a decade, including organizing its annual Microsoft Office Specialist World Champsionship event.
Microsoft cert exams will still be available at Prometic facilities through the end of 2014. After that, however, Pearson VUE will be the only game in town. Microsoft Learning says that the new arrangement will provide a range of benefits to certification candidates, beginning with greatly increased convenient access to exams — Pearson VUE has testing facilities in 175 countries around the globe.
Also of note, Pearson VUE offers enhanced security measures to discourage exam cheating. Pearson VUE test candidates are photographed and assigned a unique digital signature. A growing trend of widespread cheating on cert exams has been under increasing scrutiny from certification entities for a while now, so increased exam protection is a big benefit for Microsoft.
Prometric probably isn't thrilled about losing a premiere client, but should continue to thrive. With several thousand of its own testing centers, in more than 160 countries worldwide, the company doubtless has other options to go on about its business.