Microsoft Moves On from MCSA: Windows 10 Certification

Welcome to my latest Homer Simpson moment. Casting about for today's blog topic, I remembered seeing in a recent forum post that the MCSA: Windows 10 is scheduled for retirement on March 31. "Holy Gobstoppers!" thought I to myself, "What are aspiring Windows desktop wizards to do?"


Microsoft is bidding adieu to MCSA: Windows 10.

Sure enough, when I checked the U.S. version of the home page for MCSA: Windows 10, I saw a warning of its imminent retirement (see screencap). This led me straight to my go-to Microsoft Learning contact, the inimitable and irrepressible Liberty Munson with a simple question, "What's next?"


Ms. Munson responded quickly and accurately with the names of the replacement exams. This reminded me that, in early December, I had indeed seen a Microsoft Learning blog post about the beta release of those exams with some verbiage around the replacement exams and program.


You can still read that post for yourself: Hey, Modern Desktop Administrators! Take MD-100 and MD-101 in Beta Today!. The beta period, unfortunately, expired yesterday so the offer is moot. The information contained in the post, however, is good and worth repeating and pondering.


Meet a New Windows 10 Cert!


The Microsoft Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate looks like a pretty direct, if role-based replacement for MCSA: Windows 10. Its goal is to equip so-called "Modern Desktop Administrators" with the skills they need to work on desktop systems and devices.


The home page describes the cert like this "Modern Desktop Administrators deploy, configure, secure, manage, and monitor devices and client applications in an enterprise environment." There are two required exams involved, though those who've already taken and passed 70-698: Configuring Windows 10 can skip MD-100 and need pass only MD-101 to earn this new credential:


MD-100: Windows 10

This exam covers four major technical areas around the desktop OS. These include:


(1) Deploy Windows (configure language packs, migrate user data, clean installation, in-place upgrade, working with MDT, WDS, ADK, and more)
(2) Manage Devices and Data (Manage local groups, users and devices, configure data access and protection, working with local and group policies, and managing security)
(3) Configure Connectivity (configure networking, client IP settings, mobile networking, VPN clients, troubleshooting and Wi-Fi; configure remote connectivity, including remote management, PowerShell remoting, and remote desktop access)
(4) Maintain Windows (configure system and data recovery, manage updates, and monitor and manage Windows)


Great stuff, to be supported, in the near future, with classes and practice tests.


MD-101: Managing Modern Desktops

Like its predecessor, MD-101 is broken into 4 major technical areas, this time with less emphasis on the local OS itself, and with more emphasis on the OS in an enterprise context.


Those four areas are:


(1) Deploy and Update OS (plan and implement Windows 10 using dynamic deployment and Windows Autopilot, upgrade devices to Windows 10, manage updates and device authentication, including Azure AD join)
(2) Manage Policies and Profiles (plan and implement co-management including mobile device management, implement conditional access and compliance policies for devices, configure device profiles, and manage user profiles)
(3) Manage and Protect Devices (working with Windows Defender, manage Intune device enrollment and inventory, monitor devices)
(4) Manage Apps and Data (deploy and update applications including Intune, MS Store for Business, O365 Plus deployment, sideloading of apps into images, and more; and implement mobile application management, include planning, implementing and managing MAM policies, Windows Information Protection, Azure Information Protection template, and using Intune to secure data)


Here again, classes and practice tests are in development and coming soon.


Microsoft has been hinting about the future of Windows 10 certification for a while.

There's also another tasty program summary buried in a Jan. 10 blog post from Microsoft Learning: Start with Our New Workload Certifications to Become a Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator. Look for the paragraph heading that reads "Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate (Exams MD-100 and MD-101."


Then, stop, take a deep breath, and remember that Microsoft 365 is a subscription that includes the Windows 10 OS as well as MS Office Components and Elements. That's why the OS now falls under this general umbrella, and what really led to my "D'oh!" experience.


Costs and Availability


The new exams cost the same as the old ones ($165 for U.S. exam candidates; local prices prevail in other regions and countries). The beta period just closed, so it'll be a while before the final version of those exams, and all their supporting infrastructure (practice tests, study guides, 3rd-party classroom and online training, and so forth) become available.


When might that happen? Well, given that MCSA: Windows 10 expires on March 31, it's not unreasonable to believe that the new regime will kick in sometime around April 1. That's the way such things have worked for some time now, though a slight delay is not impossible. Stay tuned, and I'll keep you posted.


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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.