Microsoft Certified Professional
Microsoft Certifications are information technology professional certifications for Microsoft products. Individual certifications are received upon passing one or more exams.
Like Apple, Cisco, Oracle, Red Hat and Ubuntu programs, the certifications mainly focus on their respective product, as opposed to employment aptitude tests designed for programmer trainee jobs. The certifications are categorized by function as Server, Desktop, Database, and Developer. There are four major tiers with the MC (Microsoft Certified) prefix, which are: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM).
Exams usually take between two and three hours to complete and consist of between 40 and 90 multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and solution-building questions; and simulated content with respect to which students must perform certain common administrative tasks.
Current certifications 
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) 
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification is the foundation for higher certifications and prerequisite for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). This new certification replaces the older Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS).
- Windows Server 2008
- Windows Server 2012
- Windows 8
- Windows 7
- SQL Server 2012
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) 
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification comes after the MCSA. This level of certification requires recertification every three years. MCSEs will gradually replace the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).
- Server Infrastructure
- Desktop Infrastructure
- Private Cloud
- Data Platform
- Business Intelligence
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) A previous certification path under Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 2003.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) 
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification is for developers and requires recertification every two years. The MCSD was the highest level of certification programming offered by Microsoft, prior to the release of the .NET Framework 2.0. To fulfill the requirements of the certification, an individual has to pass total of five examinations which consist of four core examinations and one elective examination.
- Windows Store Apps
- Web Applications
- Application Lifecycle Management
Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) 
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Master certification was formerly known as Microsoft Certified Master (MCM). The newly named certification adds a recertification requirement, which is every three years.
- Directory Services
- Data Platform
Retired certifications 
As new associate and expert level certifications are released for each technology, old certifications corresponding to that technology will be retired. Certifications to be retired are Microsoft Certified System Engineer, Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). Below are retired and soon-to-be retired certifications:
Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) 
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional credential helps validate that an individual has the comprehensive set of skills necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator.To obtain a MCITP certification, you must first obtain one or more prerequisite MCTS certifications, and then pass the qualifying "PRO" exam(s).
MCITP certifications are available for:
- Windows Client
- Windows Server
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Microsoft Office Project Server
- Microsoft Exchange Server
- Microsoft SharePoint
- Microsoft Lync
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) 
The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist credential enables professionals to target specific technologies, and are generally the first step toward the professional-level certifications. MCTS certifications are no longer in development. However, the certification is still good for those who already have it. The MCSA will gradually replace all MCTSs.
MCTS certifications are available for:
- Exchange Server
- Lync Server
- Project and Project Server
- SharePoint and SharePoint Server
- SQL Server
- System Center
- Visual Studio
- Windows Client
- Windows Embedded
- Windows Server
- Other technologies
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) 
The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certifications are gradually being retired, with MCSD as its successor.
MCPD exists for the following:
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
- Windows Phone
- Microsoft SharePoint 2010
- Microsoft Silverlight 4
- Upgrade Paths
Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM) 
The Microsoft Certified Master certification enables senior-level IT professionals to demonstrate and validate their technical expertise on Microsoft server products. It is a prerequisite for the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA). Eligibility into the program first requires successful completion of specific and related MCITP certifications. The MCSM will gradually replace all MCMs.
MCM certifications are available for:
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
- Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008
- Windows Server 2008 R2: Directory
Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) 
The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator certification program credential is meant for database administrators, who will implement and administer Microsoft SQL Server databases. The MCSE in the Database category superseded this certification.
Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) 
The Microsoft Certified Architect certification is the pinnacle of Microsoft certification. Eligibility into the program first requires a MCM certification in a relevant product. Candidates must then be reviewed and approved by Microsoft to be entered into the program. Accepted candidates must prepare a work history dossier, architectural solution case study, and a document that demonstrates the relevance of their skills and work experience. Following that, candidates must attend a 4-hour Review Board interview, which consists of at least two MCAs. The candidate must make a 30-minute presentation to the board, and then be able to successfully defend the quality and viability of the case study against questions from the board.
MCA certifications are available for:
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) 
The Microsoft Certified Trainer certification program is for individuals who intend to train others who want to obtain any of the other certification programs of Microsoft. They must have some type of certification from the Microsoft certification courses; they must also prove their instructional presentation skills, obtain a "Metrics that Matter" ID and apply and pay an annual to become and remain a MCT.
A Microsoft Certified Partner for Learning Solutions (CPLS) organization must employ or contract with a suitably certified MCT to deliver any Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC) courses they offer, whether to private closed groups or public classes. On the other hand, only a CPLS can purchase MOC materials, and while they may sell these on to an independent MCT (if they choose to) for them to run a private class (for participants from a single organization), a MCT may not run public classes using MOC materials other than for a CPLS.
During the Windows 2000 era, the requirement to pass the examinations associated with a class was relaxed. This meant that an MCT with MCSE could teach programming classes and a MCDBA could teach engineering courses. For the XP/Server 2003 era, even the requirements of premier certifications like MCSE, MCDBA, MCSD, etc. were removed. CEC's and training requirements were removed in total. Only an annual fee was required to be paid to maintain a MCT. MCDST's could also be certified as a trainer. Today a MCT can be certified in only office applications and hold the trainer certification title.
With the 2007/2008 generation of certification programs, MCTS and MCITP, the trainers were tied to "competencies". Each Microsoft Official Course (MOC) requires one or more specialized certifications to be held in addition to MCT certification so that the delivery of title to be allowed under the program. There were 54 different competencies as of March 2010 (with last update May 2009). For example, to deliver a Course 50213A (related to Data Protection Manager 2007), the instructor requires the certification title MCTS: System Center Configuration Manager 2007 certification. In general a MCT is now required to hold a MCSE / MCITP level certification in a track and version (e.g. SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010) to teach MOC courses in that subject at a CPLS. When a new product version comes out, a MCT has a grace period where they can teach the new subject based on their qualification in the previous version (otherwise no-one could teach any new subjects at first). This period ends 90 days from the release date of the updated exams, during which time the MCT must pass the new requirements or continue to teach only the older version courses after this grace period elapses.
Quality control of MOC, CPLS companies and MCTs is monitored via student evaluations submitted to Metrics That Matter (an independent third-party company). The MCT program agreement includes a requirement of minimum average scores, without which a MCT may not (in theory) renew their membership in the program.
Microsoft also publish "Community Courseware" written by third-party authors in the Microsoft Learning Courseware Library. This is not MOC and does not bear Microsoft's branding nor have the same restrictions about who can deliver these courses or where. Some consider this to be a loophole which allows unqualified instructors to provide public classes. For example, a MCT certified in only Word 2003 can legally deliver an ISA Server 2006 class (Course 50002A) since that is not a Microsoft Official Course, or could even deliver a private class in Windows Server 2008 using MS Press books, but could not teach any MOC course to a public class organized themselves or via a CPLS. Of course, there is nothing stopping any expert teaching a class in their subject area using their own materials, books or any other training resources they have legally obtained. They do not need to be a MCT or work for a CPLS, unless they wish to deliver MOC courses, for which they must be qualified.
Third-Party Certifications 
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) 
The Microsoft Office Specialist, previously known as Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS), is a certification program for using the Microsoft Office suite for business applications. Though listed under the Microsoft Certification Programs, it is not officially proclaimed as Microsoft certification. The MOS examinations are managed by third-party companies, rather than Microsoft. Certifications for Office 2013 are being launched from 28 February 2013. 
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) 
The Microsoft Technology Associate certification are for those just starting their IT career path. It covers the fundamentals of IT infrastructure, databases, and development.
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- "Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
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- "Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
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- "Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02.