The History of Microsoft Certifications




Microsoft certifications represent an ever-expanding repertoire of skills that cater to a growing range of practical IT applications. The skills that the certifications bring with them, are invaluable in this day and age, and are the basis for why Microsoft Corporation began offering courses that anyone could avail.

Here, we will take a look at Microsoft certification history, and observe what the horizon holds, in terms of certification catalog expansion.

How it Started

Some of you may remember when the MCP program came into being. It quickly became one of the most sought-after certifications across the globe. The Microsoft Certified Professional program was officially launched in 1992 for people working in the IT industry. When it was initially offered, the only exams that candidates could take were LAN Manager, Windows 3.1, and SQL Server.

The certifications started expanding in 1993 with the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and Certified Product Specialist (MCPS) programs. In March 1994, thousands of professionals got their certifications and the number quickly doubled by the end of year. Dan Truax, an expert from Microsoft, said that the MCP program was a huge success because of the technologies offered by Microsoft.

Today, millions of people are enrolled in the MCP program due to the considerable benefits of Microsoft certifications.

Early Microsoft Certifications

A few years ago, Windows systems administrators were known as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). The credentials gained a lot of momentum and people rushed to get them. To get the certifications, you had to clear an exam which made you a MCP in:

  • Exchange Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP

People who sought higher-level titles opted for Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA). After Windows Server 2008 was released, there was a shift in the Windows certification portfolio. Today, in order to become a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), you have to pass the certification exam. There are currently two MCITP titles for Windows Server 2008:

  • MCITP: Server Administrator
  • MCITP: Enterprise Administrator

Looking at the MCP Timeline

The 20th century

  • 20/11/85- Windows 1.01 gets published.
  • 22/5/90- Windows 3.0 is released for the masses.
  • 6/4/92- Microsoft launched several online exams through its Microsoft Certified Professional Program, that included SQL Server, Windows 3.1, and SQL Server.
  • 27/10/92- Windows starts working on Workgroups 3.1 out.
  • 24/5/93- Windows releases NT 3.1.
  • 8/11/93- Windows starts working on Workgroups 3.11 out.
  • 14/9/93- The designations of Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Certified Product Specialist (MCPS), and Certified Trainer (MCT) are announced.
  • 7/3/94- Microsoft reports that there are more than 5000 MCPs all around the world.
  • 21/9/94- Windows NT 3.50 surfaces.
  • 5/12/94- Microsoft announces its Solution Developer certification.
  • 24/8/95- The famous Windows 95 is released.
  • 3/9/96-Windows NT 4.0 appears.
  • 10/12/96- A new internet certification program known as MCPS is introduced by Microsoft.
  • 5/2/97- Microsoft reports that around 100,000 certifications are issued.
  • 11/12/97- Microsoft announces its MCSE and internet credentials.
  • 1/6/98- Microsoft announces its MCP and Site-building credentials.
  • 25/6/98- Windows 98 is launched.
  • 16/11/98- Microsoft announced MCDBA.
  • 30/4/99- ATECs renamed to CTECs.
  • 14/5/99- 502,689th MCP gets certified by Microsoft.
  • 20/9/99- Microsoft announces its Windows 2000 MCSE certification track. In addition to this, the retirement of NT 4.0, by the end of 2001, is announced.

The 21st Century

  • 2/2/00- Microsoft switches to adaptive testing.
  • 17/2/00- Microsoft launches Windows 2000.
  • 14/9/00- Windows Me is introduced.
  • 11/10/01- MCSA title is introduced by Microsoft.
  • 25/10/01- Microsoft launches Windows XP.
  • 12/01- NT 4.0 and MCSEs get revived after Microsoft announces that its certifications won’t be retired.
  • 15/1/02- Microsoft adopts the pass and fail system.
  • 6/4/02- MCP completes a decade.

Microsoft creates the MCSD designation in 1994 and in the coming years, the number of MCPs rose from 65,000 to 150,000, which was a massive development. The MCSD and MCSE designations saw a 250% increase. This success was the reason why Microsoft announced new certifications such as MCSE+Internet, MCDBA, and the MCP+Site Building in the coming years.

One of the reasons why the certifications became so important is that employers understood their importance and set them as a benchmark to gauge the competency of candidates. These certifications gave people a chance to brush up their skills and to get the jobs that they wanted. On the other hand, it allowed employers to have a competent staff that had the skills needed to optimize customer satisfaction.

Today, the competition in immense, and these certifications help professionals get an upper hand.

There are many certifications out there but the ones by Microsoft differ in the way that they require the candidate to get a good understanding of the product. This is so that they know how it can be utilized. The higher-end certifications are of great value because they provide highly applicable knowledge to the candidates, bringing them closer to their professional destination.

One can expect to see more growth in the MCP certification list, since the IT industry continues to grow exponentially. It is important to know that MCP repertoire size is not driven by Microsoft but by how interested people in acquiring new skills that will help them to excel professionally. Microsoft is known to meet the demands of the people as well as the industry.

In the coming years, one can expect Microsoft to add more certifications and extend Win2K as well as NT. These certifications will become more hands on and may transition from theory to a more practical approach.

About The Author
Associate Instructor

Yahya Siddiqui

Yahya has experience in the field of Microsoft Azure, Active Directory, Exchange Server, Office 365, System Center, PowerShell, and Proxy Server /TMG/ ISA Server. He has worked as System Administrator and deployed Active Directory & File Servers.

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