In a response to the quarantine and lockdown restrictions due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Microsoft has announced they are delaying retiring the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certifications and exams. These certifications are now going to be retired January 31, 2021; offering an additional 7 months to earn these certifications and prepare for the transition to the newer Role-based certifications. In addition to this change, Microsoft announced a few more changes to how they will be handling the certification and exam process during this current pandemic.

As the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve rapidly around the world, the health, safety and well-being of our employees, customers and partners remain our top priorities.

Alex Payne, GM, Global Technical Learning at Microsoft Worldwide Learning

These latest updates to Microsoft Certifications are a great response to everyones concerns about how to get certified during this pandemic. It’s really great to see Microsoft being flexible and offering us all alternative options that help us stay safe and still be able to earn the certifications our jobs require.

Next, let’s take a look at the full announcements made!

Retirement of MCSA, MCSE, and MCSE extended to January 31, 2021

When Microsoft first announced the move to retire all the older MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD technology-based certifications and their associated exams, there was a huge response from the community. Most of the community responded in shock and confusion. The technology industry has relied on these certifications to provide proof and validation of IT Pro, Developer, and other professionals skills and expertise. This was a big change to make, and to only give people about 6 months notice of retiring these certifications was largely seen as way too short.

The biggest response from the community was to extend the retiring of the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certifications (and their exams) to sometime around January, 2021. With the latest updates announced due to the Coronavirus, Microsoft has officially extended this retirement date to January 31, 2021.

The retirement extension is announced due to the Coronavirus, but the community backlash and reaction may have had something to do with this decision. In the end, we will never know how much each of the reason may or may not have affected the extension decision, but professionals around the world can study more calmly knowing they have until January 31, 2021 to earn the last of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certifications before they are retired forever.

Other Microsoft Certification Updates

There are a few additional announcement that have been made. These announcements may not be as impactful as retiring ALL the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certifications, but they are certainly important updates to help people earn their certifications during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic time.

Increasing Online Proctored Exam Capacity

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Pearson Vue has closed their physical testing centers worldwide. As a result, the only option to take a Microsoft Certification exam is to use the online proctored testing option. Microsoft has announced they are working with Pearson Vue to expand the overall capacity of taking online proctored exams. This provides a great option to stay on your path towards certification while taking exams from the comfort of your home or office.

Cancellation and Reschedule Fees are Waived

Traditionally cancelling or rescheduling exams could result in a fee. Microsoft is working with Pearson Vue to temporarily waive exam reschedule and cancellation fees. You can now reschedule or cancel an exam within at least 24 hours prior to your appointment without a fee. This is a change fro the 6-day window previously.

Role-based Certification Expiration Extended

As you may be aware, when you earn a role-based Microsoft Certification, such as the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator certification, your hard earned certification will remain valid for a period of 2 years. After that two years, your certification will expire and become inactive, then you will need to take / retake an exam to renew your certification. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft is extending the expiration of all role-based certifications by 6 months.

As a result, all role-based certifications that would be expiring between now and December 31, 2020, will now be extended to not be retired for an additional 6 months. If you have a certification that was set to retire on September 30, 2020, it will now expire on March 30, 2021.

During these difficult times, this means you will have an additional 6 months than you would have previously to renew your certifications.

Exam Voucher and Discount Offer Expiration Extended

Many people use exam vouchers and discount offers when paying for and scheduling Microsoft certification exams. If you have an exam voucher from Pearson Vue or a discount offer that was set to expire between March 26 and August 31, 2020, these will now be extended until January 31, 2021. Don’t worry, if your voucher of discount code is going to be expiring during these difficult times, you will still be able to use it until January 31, 2021.

Wrap Up

The biggest Microsoft certification announcement is that the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certification expiration is being extended to January 31, 2021. The other announcements are really great updates from Microsoft and Pearson Vue to offer us additional flexibility and accommodation to earning / updating certifications during these difficult times.

Microsoft MVP

Chris Pietschmann is a Microsoft MVP, HashiCorp Ambassador, and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with 20+ years of experience designing and building Cloud & Enterprise systems. He has worked with companies of all sizes from startups to large enterprises. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.
HashiCorp Ambassador Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect