Thoughts about Microsoft’s retirement of the MCM

I was quite surprised, to say the least, to hear today of Microsoft’s sudden retirement of its advanced certifications. (For those who haven’t heard, Microsoft sent an email late Friday announcing its decision to retire the MCM, MCSM, and MCA certifications on October 1, just one month from today.)

For many of us, this is a huge disappointment. In the world of their certifications, the MCSA is like an associate’s degree from college; the MCSE is like a bachelor’s degree. ┬áThe tests for both are challenging, but still readily available, and thousands of people get these certifications every year.

An MCM, on the other hand, was more like a graduate degree from a university. It was expensive. It required experience, and a lot of study, both of which took a lot of time. It was definitely not for everyone. And that was precisely its allure for the small percentage of us who aspire to be the best at our craft.

I’m sure the advanced certification programs were not cheap to operate. But not everything can be distilled to a number on a balance sheet. The intangible benefits for this program were huge. For those who desired to attain it, it was a way to prove ourselves. For Microsoft, this was (or should have been) another way for them to find their most dedicated supporters and the next generation of those ready to solve the hardest problems.

I, for one, am sorry to see this program go. I’m not ready for it yet – my goal is to obtain my MCSA and MCSE by year’s end – but I had planned to try for a MCSM in a year or two. Hopefully, there will be something else to take its place by then.


Ed Leighton-Dick helps small and midsize businesses solve their most challenging database performance, resiliency, and data security issues at Kingfisher Data, the consulting firm he founded in 2014. He has taught thousands of people at over 200 events, including the world's largest Microsoft data platform conferences, and he has been a leader in the Microsoft data community since 2008. Microsoft has recognized Ed seven times as a Data Platform MVP for his expertise and service to the data community.

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