Microsoft's decision to axe its highest-level product certifications has plunged some tech experts in the channel into turmoil, according to the UK president of a global Microsoft partner group.
Over the weekend, Microsoft announced its Masters accreditations would be retired due to the changing technology landscape, a move the UK president of the International Association for Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) Kelvin Kirby described as a "strange" decision.
Studying for the top-level badges can cost between $15,000 (£9,626) and $18,000 per person, Kirby said, and those holding the highly regarded accreditations are expected to have the most in-depth theoretical knowledge of the products. Candidates can even expect to spend a few weeks at the vendor's Redmond headquarters in order to complete the process, he added.
The qualifications are split into two categories: Microsoft Certified Masters and Microsoft Certified Architect qualifications, both of which cover specific Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, SQL and Windows Server products.
Microsoft said the decision to axe the certifications was down to the changing landscape in IT, according to an email received by senior Microsoft consultant Neil Johnson who published it on his blog.
"As technology changes, so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification programme," the email said. "The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry to determine if there is a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our programme."
IAMCP's Kirby said the decision will likely come as a blow to those who are midway through the certifications and added that it could devalue those who have splashed out on the accolade.
"They are very hard to get, and very few people did get them, so it was seen as something good and as a key distinguisher," he told CRN.
"My understanding is that it may well be replaced with something, but that is not confirmed, so there is a lot of turmoil in the community of Microsoft [experts] who are part of the way though doing it.
"What value will it have? Once it's expired and redundant, what does that mean? It's a big concern. Some individuals even invest in this [qualification] themselves as it looks great on their CV."
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