Microsoft retires MCM, MCSM & MCA certifications

Microsoft notified its certified professional community through an email yesterday that is has decided to retire three of its elite certifications including Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM), and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) enraging a vast community of certified professionals which has been one of the strong points of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Professionals certified with MCSM were considered to be at their pinnacle of their professional distinction, while those earning MCM were dubbed to have the deepest level of product expertise. The certifications are set to retire on Friday afternoon – a move timed to avoid media attention and fury of its patrons considering that the announcement would get muted if not buried over the weekend.

It seems that social media doesn’t get deterred by holidays or long weekends and reactions are flowing in from all known major social networking sites – most of them negative and rebellious against Microsoft’s announcement.

The Reason?

Microsoft cited technological evolution as the primary reason behind its decision. The email sent out announcing the retirement reads “As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program.”

“Microsoft will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013. The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry to determine if there’s a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our program.”

The Reactions

From what we have gathered so far, all the reactions are geared towards criticism for Microsoft. Devin L. Ganger, Microsoft MVP and MCM, has blogged that the move is likely to “alienate[s] the highly trained end of the IT Pro pool.”

Marcel van den Berg considers cost cutting as one of the reasons behind Microsoft’s decision. The other reason caught our attention though – as Microsoft is changing its product landscape albeit moving rapidly towards cloud based products and services, the need for “smart people in architect roles needed to help organizations design their on-premise infrastructure will decline in the coming years.”

Microsoft MVP, SharePoint MCA, MCSM and MCM Wictor Wilén writes, “This is a sad and dark day for the Microsoft community, especially for us who love products such as SQL Server, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint.”

Right from the horse’s mouth

It seems that the man behind the decision is Tim Sneath. According to Sneath, the certifications weren’t garnering a lot of attention and “only a few hundred people” attained them in the last few years – a lot less than Microsoft actually hoped for. We can smell lack of monetization reason here. Can you? Further Sneath notes in his statement that Microsoft wanted to “create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program”. Now comes the hammer – “…but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for.”

[Editor’s Note] The story was updated on August 02, 2013 09:10 GMT with link to Tim Sneath’s comments.