Microsoft plans to drop its masters and architect level certification programme from 1 October, with enrolment already ceased, in a move that has generated strong protest from IT professionals.
The certificates were designed to validate the skills of top IT professionals that work on Microsoft products. The programmes offered specialist training and skills authentication across areas and products such as Exchange, Sharepoint and SQL servers as well as messaging and directory services.
"As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program," the company said in an email.
"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."
Those currently completing the programmes will have until January 1, 2014 to take or retake the majority of exams and until August 1, 2013 to take others. A breakdown of the exams and deadlines is available through Microsoft Learning.
"As a Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, or Microsoft Certified Architect, you have earned one of the highest certifications available through the Microsoft Certification program. Although individuals will no longer be able to earn these certifications, you will continue to hold the credential and you will not be required to recertify your credential in the future," the email added.
Reacting to the news, one forum poster commented: "It is a disgrace to tell my customers this certification is worth nothing anymore. They believed in it as I did. I offered them a reliable proof of my knowledge and they trusted in it. But now... what will they think what this certification was ever worth?"
Exchange specialist and consultant, Paul Robichaux has also attacked the move, suggesting it has something to do with Microsoft's increased dependence on cloud computing.
"This is terrible news, both for the community of existing MCM/MCSM holders but also for the broader Exchange community. It is a clear sign of how Microsoft values the skills of on-premises administrators of all its products (because all the MCSM certifications are going away, not just the one for Exchange)," he wrote in a blog post.
"If all your messaging, directory, communications, and database services come from the cloud (or so I imagine the thinking goes), you don't need to spend money on advanced certifications for your administrators who work on those technologies."