Desktop Tech Cert Sees Light of Day

Microsoft introduces new certification, MCDST, and two new exams aimed at help desk and desktop support experts.

Microsoft has released a new title, Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician, aimed at desktop support personnel whose main job role is to troubleshoot user desktop machines. The MCDST requires the passage of two new exams:

  • 70-271, Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Windows Desktop Operating Systems
  • 70-272, Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Applications on a Windows Desktop Operating System Platform

Microsoft has yet to release any details about the exams, but the requirements guide (click here) provides clues to Microsoft Learning courses and self-study training kits that will be available for them. Microsoft was unable to comment in time for this story.

While the new title's initials come as a surprise, the offering isn't unexpected. Judith Morel, with Microsoft's Strategic Certification Program, told Editor Becky Nagel in May 2002 that the company was researching a separate desktop support title. According to Morel, the impetus for the research was the result of a worldwide Job Task Analysis survey of MCPs worldwide. "What we learned is that MCSAs and MCSEs don't function too much on the desktop," she said at that time. (To read Nagel's original article, "Microsoft Considering Desktop, Security Certs," click here.)

In July 2003, MCP Magazine Senior Editor Keith Ward confirmed from reliable sources that such a certification was under development and would include two completely new exams. (To read Ward's article, "Desktop Technician Cert on the Way?" from the July 2003 issue, click here.)

The new title fills out the bottom tier of an IT infrastructure pyramid (see figure), which Microsoft has shared in public talks about its certification program plans. Directly above that tier resides network administration (MCSA) and network design (MCSE). A top tier consists of an architect layer, which Microsoft has currently announced no plans for. [Update: After this announcement, Microsoft quietly published a new guide on Oct. 20 for an exam dubbed 70-281, which appears to address that top tier. Click here to read more.—Editor.]

MCDST targets Tier 2 and 3
Microsoft targets its newest title, Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician, at Tier 1 personnel (the grayed out bottom layer), whose job tasks primarily encompass daily operating systems troubleshooting. MCSA and MCSE fill Tiers 2 and 3, respectively. Microsoft has yet to reveal plans for a certification for the top tier. (Source: Microsoft Corp.)

An unscientific poll the week of July 10 indicates that readers are slightly in favor of a desktop technician-based title. Of the 829 who were asked, "If Microsoft offered an MCSA/MCSE desktop specialist designation, would you obtain it?", 47% said they'd achieve the title. (Click here to view the results.)

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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