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Microsoft Certified Architect Program Now Live

Microsoft plans to open up senior-level certification to 250 applicants in its first year.

Incubating in development for a year, Microsoft Learning has finally peeled the shell off the Microsoft Certified Architect certification, making the announcement today at the company's TechEd conference in Boston. Microsoft Learning Group also announced a revamped Office Specialist title that will be adding curriculum for Office 12 and Windows Vista.

The Microsoft Certified Architect is a high-level, peer-reviewed board certification aimed at IT professionals who have at least a decade of demonstrated skill in planning and implementing Microsoft and non-Microsoft technology within the context of an enterprise-scale business, according to the company.

"Through a peer-review process, [Microsoft will] certify individuals who can successfully produce an architecture that solves business problems by employing Microsoft products," said Microsoft program manager Andy Ruth. So far, the company has issued 66 titles and plans to grant 3,000 within the next five to seven years.

Since Microsoft Learning announced the title back in April 2005 (see "Microsoft Previews Board-Level Certification at TechMentor "), the group has refined the title into three distinct paths: MCA: Infrastructure, MCA: Solutions and MCA: Messaging. According to a Microsoft press release, the first two measure a candidate's "breadth of knowledge across the IT landscape"; the third measures a candidate's "depth of knowledge of messaging systems and their dependencies." Ruth says that the messaging solutions title is still in development.

Microsoft says it's currently taking applications through Thomson Prometric; the company is limiting registrations to the first 250 applicants. The title doesn't come cheap: it's $200 for the application, and $10,000 when you're accepted into the program.

Ruth contends that the high fee is "cost recovery," since the program requires bringing together four to six highly qualified architects in a single location several times throughout the board review process. He believes the fee and the high level of experience that candidates must demonstrate will filter out less serious candidates. Ruth said that those who've achieved the MCA so far have upwards of 25 year's worth of experience, with most having 10 to 15 years in an architecting role. "This cannot be for everyone," he added.

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Microsoft also announced that it has revamped its Office Specialist certification, with the addition of 2007 Office and Windows Vista skills among the current mix of software for which the program tests.

According to a statement on the Microsoft site, "The introduction of the Windows Vista and 2007 Office programs is part of Microsoft Learning's customer readiness promise to deliver the right amount of knowledge in the right form factor at the right time." The Microsoft Learning Group says that it will add more content as 2007 Office and Windows Vista get closer to release, slated for some time early next year. (MCPmag.com will follow up with a separate report as soon as Microsoft releases details.)

Redmond Channel Partner editor Anne Stuart in Boston contributed to this report.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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