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A New Generation of Office Exams

Following Office 2007 suite, Microsoft officially launches Business Certification Program that tests information worker skills.

As expected, Microsoft has officially announced a new-generation Office Specialist certification related to its 2007 Office System suite, dubbed the Business Certification Program. CertiPort developed the program with Microsoft, according to a preliminary report from CertCities.com (see "Microsoft and Certiport Developing New Business Certs").

The BCP comprises a two-level, hierarchical certification: an application skill-level certification dubbed the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist, and a job role-related Microsoft Certified Application Professional title.

The Microsoft Certified Application Specialist splinters into five main specializations, four of which tests skill with the four major Office 2007 applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access -- as well a specialization for Windows Vista. Each certification will require that candidates pass one exam to obtain each title. The Microsoft MCP Web site is scant of details for now, but will be updated in the days to come. Also, a simple roadmap on the site indicates that exams for Word, Excel and Application Specialist credentials will be available in March, with Outlook and Access MCASes available in May and June. Localized versions of the exams are being developed, with releases scheduled around June. The MCAS for Windows Vista is targeted for an August release.

The Microsoft Certified Application Professional is comprised of four main job-related skills: Managing Budgets, Managing Presentations, Managing Team Collaboration and Supporting Organizations. Each title also requires passing one exam for each skill. The certifications will be available in August and September, with worldwide availability after September.

Microsoft is also developing what it calls Microsoft Official Pre-Tests, which are online skill assessments for each Applications Specialist title. While not a requirement, Microsoft recommends that MCAS candidates take the pre-tests prior to tackling any of the exams. Completion of a pre-test produces a prescribed study and certification plan tailored to certification candidates. Pre-tests will be released throughout the year prior to related exams.

Certification and exam objective guides haven't been posted to the MCP site as of this writing.

Because the Business Certification Program is aimed at the channel, Microsoft says that pricing will be determined by resellers and location. Basic pricing for each exam component breaks down this way: Pre-Tests, $25; Application Specialist, $75; Application Professional, $125. Exams will be available only through CertiPort. MCPmag.com will update this article as details become available. Click here to view Microsoft's timeline for pre-test availability and exam releases.

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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