Microsoft Details New Developer Certifications

At the VSLive Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft has released official details on its long-awaited certifications.

On the heels of Microsoft's unveiling of its Visual Studio.NET application development software at the VSLive Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft has released official details on its long-awaited certifications: Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) for Microsoft .NET and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer for Microsoft .NET. The new titles distinguish themselves from the current MCSD offering by their obvious ".NET-ness."

According to two FAQs that the company released to, the MCAD for the Microsoft .NET credential is aimed at identifying those who specialize in "[developing and maintaining] department-level applications, components, Web or desktop clients, or back-end data services or [those who] work in teams developing enterprise applications." In the FAQ, Microsoft attempts to make the distinction between this title and the MCSD for Microsoft .NET, substituting "enterprise solutions" for "department-level applications" in the descriptions, then adding Microsoft .NET Framework to the MCSD's toolbag.

The new MCAD.NET track isn't "new." When met with Microsoft's certification group at Fusion, Microsoft's partner conference late last summer, the group simultaneously announced work on this new developer track as it announced the mid-level MCSA systems administrator track (see "Microsoft Preps New Tracks for Systems Admins, Developers in News). Nor are the exams new; "Certification Corner," a newsletter that follows IT certifications had divulged the names last year (see "Developer Certifications Get Behind .NET in News).

The MCAD.NET credential will require passage of three exams in total, including one Web or Windows Application Development exam:

  • 70-305, Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Visual Basic .NET and Visual Studio. NET
  • 70-315, Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Visual C# .NET and Visual Studio. NET
  • 70-306, Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with Visual Basic .NET and Visual Studio .NET
  • 70-316, Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with Visual C# .NET and Visual Studio .NET

one Web Services and Server Components exam:

  • 70-310, Developing Web Services and Server Components with Visual Basic .NET and Visual Studio.NET
  • 70-320, Developing Web Services and Server Components with Visual C# and Visual Studio.NET

and one elective from among this list:

  • 70-305, 70-315, 70-306, 70-316 (as long as it isn't counted toward core credit above)
  • 70-229, Designing and Implementing Databases with SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition
  • 70-230, Designing and Implementing Solutions with BizTalk Server 2000, Enterprise Edition
  • 70-234, Designing and Implementing Solutions with Commerce Server 2000

The MCSD.NET title entails the same roster of exams, with some differences. The title requires five exams vs. MCAD's three. The candidate must pass both a Web Application Development test and a Windows Application Development test, as well as the Web Services or Server Components exam and an elective. Also required: 70-300, Analyzing Requirements and Defining .NET Solution Architectures. That the MCAD.NET seems to be a subset of the MCSD.NET was intentional, according to the FAQ.

Microsoft's requirements for both the MCAD.NET and MCSD.NET tracks come with one caveat that might prove confusing: Unlike the current MCSD requirements, Microsoft will only allow credit for one of the exams within the core pair. For example, a candidate will receive core credit for either 305 or 315, but not both.

Noticeably absent are the Visual C++ and Visual FoxPro exams. The company says it will announce later this year how it will slide Visual C++-based exams into the matrix, but makes no mention of its plans for Visual FoxPro-based exams.

Although Microsoft has stated its intention to release .NET Server exams for the new MCSE tracks as soon as possible after the release of the products, its developer exams aren't getting the same priority. Microsoft expects to release most of the new exams in beta testing form in June this year; 70-300 is expected to be in beta in early 2003. That means no one will be able to become an MCSD on .NET until next year.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is Editor in Chief of Virtualization Review. He's been an IT writer and editor for so long that he remember typing out news items in WordStar.

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Jul 9, 2002 cherian india

hey guys could somebody plzz help me out. i would love to give the mcad exams. but dont know where to start and what to do. if u guys could plzz help me out . i would be really thankful to u guys. my email id is

Wed, Apr 3, 2002 Mark/MCP heartland

Cliff/MCSD/Phoenix is absolutely right about M$ certs/prods(ten 'critical' XP fixs are just the beginning..). Meanwhile, any test will produce crams, but developers using .NET since 2000 shouldn't have to wait till 2003 to test. Pass one unit to claim .NET MCP & save the other 100s/hours/dollars.

Wed, Mar 20, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

i wont someone to help me to get my mcp+site building how to study

Sat, Mar 16, 2002 Roger Chen Anonymous

It is not surprise that MS change the qualification for solution developers. It is not suprise to see not too many people to take the certification exams eventually.

Thu, Mar 7, 2002 Berkani Algeria

Personnelement I think that it is inequitable this new about MCSD.Net, I spent 3 years in the developpement on Visual studio 6 months to be able to pass the MCSD work hardly). And I have just had in fevrier on 2002. The question in which measure this new certifecation still respectable if we know that it will be new one in few years(2 or 3?).
The best work which Microsoft should do is to think to new way to examine to thwart braindumps.

Wed, Mar 6, 2002 Dez, MCSE West Indies

Ditto, Cliff...I decided to invest my time in a Masters in Software Engineering with a Java concentration.

Fri, Mar 1, 2002 Cliff, MCSD Phoenix

There is a problem with the way M$ is using certifications and developing products. Because they are market-driven rather than technology-driven, they tend to develop products that can nominally claim to have certain key programming features, yet are not well-designed software products.

The result becomes clear when they release their advertising pitch for their latest generation of products: they expose the weaknesses of the previous products in great detail, essentially agreeing with the critics of their past efforts.

I have taken a quick look at VB DotNet, and it does not seem to be a well-engineered software product like Java. Instead, it seems to be a mish-mash of features that are cobbled together and that will require considerable patching in the future. To get a certification on this technology, whether you score 1000 out of 1000 on your exams, is really a questionable goal.

I am going to look for other alternatives for an investment of my time and money, rather than this new layer of certifications which - however difficult they may eventually be - are not likely to be worth much as credentials.

Thu, Feb 28, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

As an MCSD and a VFP Consultant I have to comment that data access with ADO and now apparently ADO.NET is just so much more tedious than VFP where your data seems far more "available."

It's not that the languages are more complicated than one another, it's just that using a library to access data seems to add an unnecessary layer of complexity.

I will keep chasing certifications but as a database programmer I would have hoped .Net would have made a greater leap in ease of database access.

Wed, Feb 27, 2002 Mark Madison, WI

My employer has directed me to get my MCSD certification. They're paying for it and giving me dedicated work time for it. Should you go for you MCSD in the legacy technology or wait for .Net? That's a tough question. Consider this however... the Legacy MCSD tests were built using Windows NT. I'm running into problems becuase the Win2K servers and test boxes I'm using don't use MTS and DCOM. I have to practice for the tests with COM+. There are a lot of issues like that. It's true that MCSD in Legacy VB isn't too very valuable right now and will only decrease as .Net takes hold. Since there's no "fast-path" upgrade, you have to ask yourself.... is it worth it? For me? If my employer didn't direct me to get the certification, I wouldn't bother. I would be putting my efforts into learning .Net. That being said, there's still a TON of new development going on in Legacy VB and as such, MCSD in it isn't totally worthless. But if you have to take all four tests, that's $500 assuming you pass them all on the first try. Sheese... I'm rambling. Good luck in your decisions. MCN

Wed, Feb 27, 2002 Anonymous U.S. Virgin islands

I too am confused, Stuart...I have been developing apps using VB, SQL server, VB with Oracle, and Access for years, but every time I try to get going on MCSD cert I read the posts and there is so much vitriol I wonder if it is worth the effort. There seems to be so much conflicting info out there, it makes it difficult for a perceived "outsider" like myself to make decisions sometimes. Hope I'm not whining.

Wed, Feb 27, 2002 Stuart Macleod Edinburgh

A confused newcomer.....I have recently started preparing for MSCD as I believe it to be a valuable certification, am I wrong ? Should I at this early stage consider the .NET exams instead ? thx

Tue, Feb 26, 2002 Mark Madison, WI

I have to agree with Jason from Livermore. Based on my investigations into .Net, it's different enough from legacy VB that starting the MSCD track over is the right thing to do. Just my $0.02.

Mon, Feb 25, 2002 Jason Mauss Livermore, CA

Ok, there are some blatant misunderstandings in some of these posts.

First, the MCSD does NOT garner anywhere near the respect it should. Why? Because you can still be a paper cert with the MCSD. There are cheat-sheets and such out there for MCSD just like there is for the MCSE (and MCDBA too for that matter.).

Second, Does anyone that posts here realize that VS.NET has been released (in beta form) since July of 2000? Hello folks, that means there are people out there with over a year and a half of VS.NET Experience! I myself am already chomping at the bit to get the MCSD.NET because I've been developing with it since it was released at the July 2000 PDC. To tell developers they can't get the MCSD until 2003 is somewhat unfair.

Lastly, there absolutely SHOULD NOT be some kind of "accelerated" or "upgrade" all encompassing exam for the new MCSD.NET. Why you ask? Well, if MSFT networking and other MCSE topics changed as much from NT4 to Win2K as VS did from version 6 to 7, we'd all be wearing sunglasses with special projected lenses to view our desktops and have security Kerberos chips implanted in our heads! Seriously...would you think an "upgrade" to that kind of platform was ideal?

I'm afraid to say there isn't really a smooth "transition" to VS.NET from VS 6. Ok, there's COM Interop but that's where the COM+ Train stops in .NET-ville.

Ok, whew, I feel much better after clearing that up.


Sun, Feb 17, 2002 Greg H. Dallas

I agree with Mike from Michigan. Our company has just evaluated the move to .NET and decided to begin new development with Java and Oracle. I really got peeved at Microsoft for the way they've administered the MCSD. The constantly changing requirements, eliminating certs (MCP +SB). How many times have they changed the titles. They cant even decide on what logos they want.

Sun, Feb 17, 2002 Mike MCSD from Michigan

The MCSD title isnt respected from the hiring managers point of view. I've been an MCSD since 96 and the only places that cared are the Microsoft Certified contracting companies. I think MS has made a big mistake in not offering a VS 7.0 that builds on the existing 6.0. With the substantial investment to move to .NET, they are giving shops an opportunity to jump ship. Most current development isnt using the capabilities even in 6.0.
I dont plan on renewing my MCSD. If I stay in development, there are more opporunities in the Java/Oracle realm. ($$ too!)

Sat, Feb 16, 2002 bill redmond

Not angry at all there Chuck from Tulsa. I am a MCSD and MCT and about to be MCDBA. I am a DEVELOPER first and have MCSD/MCDBA only because it a requirement where I was consulting. As a MCT I have seen so many PAPER trainers who just love to add certs to their name and have never developed squat. Last week I had a conference call with a team of MCT's with MCSD/MCSE/MCDBA certs and I was trying to resolve a very complicated COM+ issue and really expected to get some great ideas from this motley crew. INSTEAD all I got was a bunch of canned textbook suggestions that came directly from most of the MOC manuls these clowns apparently leant all their bag of tricks. NOT ONE of them offered an inteligent suggestion. They did not know I WAS an MCT and had already read most of the MOC books they were referencing. PAPER trainers and PAPER cert losers. AND it these guys who complain the MOST about how MSFT makes changes to the CERT program. Reason is as the program becones more challenging, these clowns know they will eventualy be weeded out of jobs.

Sat, Feb 16, 2002 chuck Tulsa

Although Bill (the angry) from Redmond sounds as if his rubber band is wound a little tight, I agree with his sentiments. Too often there are paper mvps that really have never (or hardly ever) developed and successfully implemented a real app/system. As an MCSD, MCDBA and MCT, I got my certs only after many years of actually working and developing with the products. Yes, MCSD, and MCDBA are rigerous exams, especially if you have passed the Data Warehouse exam for SQL, and the thought of committing the hours to go back and do it all over again is not appealing, but it has been very financially and professionally rewarding for me. I have been in the IT business for more than 25 years and began writing mainframe apps when many of the current whiz kids were still trying to decide whether to mess their diapers or not. My clients, look first at my experience, then the certs confirm that not only can I do what I say I can, but I have also maintained my proficiency level with current technology tools and approaches. I do contract training only when my schedule permits and it has opened several doors for additional engagements I would not have gotten any other way. The perceived value of your cert is obviously personal, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 SUN London

Bill, go and get a good prep book or material, then try to sit for a MCSD exam. You will know CAN YOU MEMORIZE programming and design skills and experiences.
I am a SCJP, I feel SCJP is much more easiler the MCSD exams, I only take 3 weeks for preparation with less than half year Java experience.
Try and say!

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 MCSD Australia

I agree on Marci's comment. But I still very confused or say angry about why MS id not provide a fast track exams for existing MCSD to upgrade. Are they not qualified for most of the .net stuff or there're no fast track for them? I don't want to read a material that include 60% MCSD knowledges. Wasteing time!

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 Bill Redmond

I am shocked (not really) to hear so many COMPLAINTS about how Microsoft does things in the Certified Track area. You people are just a bunch of complainers and most of you are not worth a slug to me as developers if all you have to say about these certifications is negative comments. I can not believe your all crying about how long it will take to release the exams when it SHOULD take an average HOT SHOT developer atleast 1 year to get up to speed and PREPARED for the exams. I suspect most of you just go out and buy the best EXAM PREP tools and MEMORIZE these practice exams until you can go out and pass the exams. Some of the newer prpe tools are good enough to allow a monkey to do that. MOST of you like this clown - Anonymous MCSD, MCSE NT/2K, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT - never develope a darn thing and speand all your time tacking certs onto your name. MCSD,MCDBA,MCSE, MCT.... gimmie me a break. Get a job dude.

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 AMAR DESAI,MCSD NJ

In many ways i think developers and consumers should welcome the emergence of .net as powerful competing force that will definitely keep the perssure on java technology to adpt, evolve, and improve. In fact, .net will even provide new market opportunities for java-based web services since they are so easy to use within and

i really like microsoft technology, and i am sure that one day they bit all others.

The exams are difficult and from my experience very accurately measure a persons abilites. and i planing to do 70-305, Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Visual Basic .NET and Visual Studio. NET

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 Brendan, MCSD Ireland

Why do existing MCSD's have to do 70-300, Analyzing Requirements and Defining .NET Solution Architectures. There has to be a big overlap on the 70-100 exam. Isn't this generic knowledge which should be platform and language independent. Come on Microsoft give existing MCSD a break!!

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 Sean B., MCSD Kansas City

The sooner the tests come out, the sooner I can buy the Transcender practice tests! I love these tests. A month of classroom lecture does not teach me as much as studying for these tests. But...I must agree with my fellow MCSDs above, WHAT'S THE HOLDUP! VS.NET was released yesterday. Note for Microsoft: Please hurry and get these tests released. It's my career your dealing with.

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 Peter, MCSD, MCT Pretoria, South Africa

Can't wait for the Beta exams. Pity one cannot become an MCSD.NET until 2003 - Hopefully MS will do something about that

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 Wayne Minnesota

I've been an MCSD for 2 years and also have my MCSE and MCDBA certs. MCSD is by far the toughest and most prestigious of all Microsoft certs. Why else do you see so few MCSDs as compared to MCSEs? My plan is to pass 70-230 asap while working with VB.NET and C# and hopefully get the MCAD and by mid 2003.

Fri, Feb 15, 2002 K C MCSD,MCSE,MCP+SB, MCT UK

For anyone contemplating giving up the MCSD in Studio 6 - DON'T! It will still be valid for some time to come; at the moment a lot of the courses are aimed at experienced programmers because as Microsoft themselves have admitted the move from VS6 to .NET is like moving from DOS to Windows.

It will take time to establish itself - I have been training .NET courses literally from the day they came out, and the courses themselves were initially written for BETA1, then BETA2 with considerable language structure and namespace changes in between.

I personally would advise getting upto speed with VB and Visual Interdev as a first point; it will make the transition considerably easier for you when you move to the .NET environment.

Regarding the "running to keep up with yourself" - yes, let's face it there is money involved, however with the pace of technology it is extremely important to keep your skills up to date.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Steve Kaschimer London, England

How exciting! I am currently sitting for my MCSD exams, and I am actually looking forward to the .NET tests coming out later this year. Am I miffed because there is no upgrade path? Not at all! Developing solutions with .NET is so fundamentally different than with the "old" technology. Why should they offer an "easy" upgrade to current MCSDs? Personally, I look forward to earning 2 MCSD certifications...

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Shameek Shroff Bangalore

Good that the exams are coming. We all are raring to go and take the exams. PLease keep informing about the further proceedings. Thank you.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Matthew Purtill, MCP Elk Grove Village, IL

It's too bad that Microsoft isn't offering an upgrade to the MCSD. Remember the uproar when they wanted to decertify of the NT 4.0 MCSEs? The same may happen here. It just doesn't make sense to be able to achieve an MCSD and then not be able to carry anything towards the .NET. It makes it sound like there is absolutely no connection between VB and VB.NET. Hopefully Microsoft will come to its senses and offer an upgrade.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Ken Collins Richmond Hill, ON, Canada

There has really never been an 'accelerated' track for the MCSD. Personally, I do not see a need for it. Developng on a 32-bit platform (VB4) was very different from Windows 3.1 (VB3). Developing with ActiveX and COM (VB5) and developing with ADO/OLE DB and a focus on the internet (VB6) have also been significantly different enough that I feel Microsoft is not only justified, but well advised to require that we demonstrate solid understanding of each new development environment and tools.

Why should developing with VS.NET, the .NET Framework and Web Services be any different? It's so totally new that I do not see how an accelerated exam process would fit.

Let's keep in mind that we are supposed to be professionals. As such it is our responsibility to maintain our skills. Personally, I enjoy the challenge. I am looking forward to taking the new exams.

I am disappointed that some people feel that Microsoft does not support the Developer certifications. I have found the exams difficult, but fair. And I know a number of people that would love to have my MCSD credential -- and the respect that comes with it.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Scott Wilkinson, MCP Philly, PA

Good point, Ed. Thanks for bringing this issue back into reality. Sure, it would be great to get .NET certified as soon as possible, but is there really a rush to do so? There's plenty to learn in the meantime.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Ed Betts, MCSD San Ramon, CA

Since my company tends to be a "late adopter" of new IT technologies, I generally wait until the cert upgrade deadlines also. Many of us in the real world aren't on the leading edge. I just upgraded our production server to SQL Server 7.0, and I'll be taking the 70-029 in the next couple of months. That's OK with me- I plan to take my time coming up to speed in the .Net world. Lifetime learning is the way to go, but it doesn't need to be at a frantic pace.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Marci Grand Rapids

What is a red-headed stepchild treatment? Anyway, it's going to take that long for people to prepare for all the other exams and take them when they are available in July. Persons really interested in taking the time and effort to get the MCSD .NET certification will probably take the 6 months to get through the 4 exams that will be ready this year anyway. Then we have to prepare for the 70-300 and that will take a month or so as well to get it right.

The MCSD not respectable? This certification is one of the most rigorous and difficult ones to acquire.

No, the MCSD is very respectable if you have really taken the time and effort to pursue it.

What would be not respectable is if Microsoft offered exams just after the release of .NET and people were actually able to pass them without having a thorough working knowledge of the product. That would indicate Microsoft is giving away certifications and that is just absolutely not the case. The exams are comprehensive and difficult and from my experience very accurately measure a persons abilites.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

can't complain much. MS has again changed the structure & number of exams reqd for MCSD. the utility of MCAD remains to be seen. i would have personally preferred to see something along the lines of sun java exams (SCJP, SCJD, SCJWCD & SCEA) which provide clear role distinction & hence much more value for certification.

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Again, MCSD gets the red-headed stepchild treatment. 70-300 available in 2003?? That's totally unaccepatable. Visual Studio .NET was released yesterday, and I was able to download it from MSDN last month. Totally pathetic, no wonder this certification title gets no respect amongst developers. Anonymous MCSD, MCSE NT/2K, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Ernesto Peru

Currently i'm a MCSD, and i'm shocked because Microsoft isn' offering a way to upgrade our current certification to the new one.
The MCSE had the opportunity of the Accelerated Exam, why the MCSD's are ignored????

Is not fair with the MCSD's!!!!!!!

Wed, Feb 13, 2002 M S0. CALIFORNIA

I just recently passed 3 of the 4 MCP for the MCSD (VB, SQL). Studying for 70-100. It looks like my MCSD will still be good for the foreseeable future because like the older NT track, Microsoft finally did NOT remove/strip it from everyone when the 2000 track came out.

Wed, Feb 13, 2002 Tim Pfeiffer Denver, CO

I think it's unlikely 70-015 or 70-016 will count toward MCAD certification (or MCSD.NET). They count toward the current MCSD. I think the last thing anyone should want is for the certs to be easier to obtain - I'm glad new tests will be required for the new certs.

And I think there's already plenty of documentation available to learn the skills the exams will require. The VB.Net and C# exams already have published exam objectives. That's always been a very reliable outline of exam topics. There's plenty of time to learn all of that stuff simply by trial and error in time for June.

Certainly, the books & other materials currently available are geared towards learning how to actually use the tools, not simply how to pass the exam. It's more work, but that's the better approach in the long run.

No doubt there will be specific exam preparation materials available within a few months after the exams go live. I expect the exams will be active for at least a couple of years, so there'll be ample time to make use of them.

But if you're hoping to pass the exams in beta or soon after they're live, you're going to have to rely mostly on your general expertise.

Wed, Feb 13, 2002 Bruce Dimon Spokane, WA, USA

Now that the exams and certification paths are announced, when will the books appear? Developing a study plan for the tests is the trick. There is little variety in the developer books available.

Wed, Feb 13, 2002 Alfred de Weerd Netherlands, Hoofddorp

As a MCP in both 70-015 an 70-016 I'm hoping Microsoft will 'slide in' these exams in the new MCSD-tracks, or as an alternative, adds the new exams to the old tracks

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