Microsoft Just Says No to MCSA Certification for Windows 10

Windows 10 is changing the Microsoft certification game.

OK, now it's official: in a Born to Learn blog post earlier this week on Monday, Senior Product Manager for Technical Certification at Microsoft Learning Larry Kaye made it public that "an MCSA: Windows 10 certification will not be offered." This had been rumored for some time, but is now a fait accompli.


The blog post under discussion — Certification Update – Windows 10 Exams — is brief but worth reading nevertheless. In addition to putting the kibosh on an MCSA: Windows 10, it provides a number of other noteworthy items of information:


? Exam 70-697 Configuring Windows Devices is near completion, and should soon be available. Passing this exam will confer a Microsoft Specialist certification, and it serves as the "recommended prerequisite" for the MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps certification (in lieu of exams 70-687 Configuring Windows 8.1 and 70-688 Supporting Windows 8.1).


? Going forward, Windows 8.1 upgrade exams 70-689 Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows 8 and 70-692 Upgrading Your Windows XP Skills to MCSA Windows 8.1 will retire on Jan. 31, as will the MCSA: Windows 8. Exams 70-687 and 70-688 will each remain Specialist exams until they reach their own scheduled expiration date of July 31.


? Another so-called "client exam" 70-398 Planning for and Managing Windows Devices (no web page available for this one, as yet) is under development and nearing beta release at this time. It, too, will confer a specialist cert but its focus will be on the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite instead of the desktop, though its focus is also presumably the Windows 10 take on a mobile client OS.


"What does it all mean?" you ask. My take on what's happening here is that Microsoft continues to aggressively move its technologies forward and is forcing the Microsoft Certified community to do likewise. By mid-2016, that means that Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 certifications will not only be pass�, in Microsoft's view, they will also be obsolete as well.


How much good pushing the certified community will do them in forcing business and commercial users to adopt Windows 10 as their desktop of choice remains an open question, and the results of Microsoft's strategy really won't play out for at least another 12-18 months.


Given ongoing history that says most businesses lag two to three years behind Windows RTM/GA release dates in reaching 50 percent adoption, that means we're looking into 2017 before that point in time arrives. I guess that gives IT Pros plenty of time to study for and earn Windows 10 certifications in the meantime, eh?


I also see this as part of a possible move toward "Windows Desktop as a Service," where Microsoft moves away from specific versions of its software, and instead focuses on a continuously updated (and presumably more capable and secure) Windows image in the future.


This is also consistent with their no-refusal policy on updates for Windows 10, and argues even more strongly that the company desperately needs to release the promised Windows Update for Business announced in May, 2015, but still far from complete (as described in this September story from Windows IT Pro).


All of this makes Windows 10 interesting to watch and wait for, particularly from the perspective of business adoption and use. The jury's still going to be out for a while, so there's also still plenty of watching and waiting ahead!


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.