Microsoft to Offer Free Certification Renewals Starting in February

Microsoft is simplifying the process of keeping your certifications current.

On Dec. 15, an interesting post appeared over at the Microsoft Learn Blog. From Alex Payne, general manager of worldwide learning at Microsoft, it's titled "Stay current with in-demand skills through free certification renewals." The basic premise is that keeping up with technology and related certifications is ever more important as the pandemic has forced the world into more rapid, more sweeping digital transformations across all industries and locations.


Payne also observes, quite interestingly, that "Microsoft Azure grew by more than 1,000 new capabilities, allowing us to innovate with the latest advancements in key areas including AI, machine learning, and virtualization. The rapid pace of technology change has truly shifted the landscape of in-demand skills for a digital world."


What's It Mean for MS Certs?


Good question? Payne's post title instantly reveals that Microsoft is moving toward a free certification renewal approach. Instead of requiring cert holders to retest to extend their credentials for another year, Microsoft will be offering online free "renewal assessments." These need not be scheduled in advance, nor paid for.


Instead, cert holders can schedule an assessment for any current, valid role-based certification up to six months prior to its expiration date. If you pass an assessment, the corresponding certification gains another 12 months of currency, tacked on to its existing expiration date.


Payne adds some clarification: "To help you prepare, you'll also have the option to access a free collection of curated learning modules for each renewal assessment" (emphasis mine).


Check the Renew Page for More info


Because February is still a month away, and all the details aren't yet completely ironed out, Payne asks interested readers to check the Renew Your Microsoft Certification page for more details. There's where you'll find a roadmap of assessments (links are not yet live, but should be in early February), with additional items for mid-February to March 2021 as well.


This is a very nice and unexpected gift from Microsoft to round out the holiday season, and a great boon to the training and certification budgets of Microsoft certified professionals, folks who would otherwise be obligated to shell out $165 (or equivalent national currency) to keep their certs up-to-date.


Good job, Microsoft: This is a very nice cert program benefit. I hope it's permanent. Happy 2021, everybody!


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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.