Microsoft has announced a slight change for those developing their skillsets through certifications using Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint as their base curriculum for obtaining their MCSE.

As of Friday, Microsoft's certification paths have changed, culminating in two distinct MCSA paths. The MCSA path, Office 365 or Windows Server 2012, allows certification seekers to decide whether to invest in Cloud education as the basis versus on-premises.

Providing two distinct paths, allows those seeking certifications to better align with the focus of the organization. If your company is considering or had already deployed Cloud-based solutions, the Office 365 track can be chosen. However, if your company has yet to invest in the Cloud, and focuses primarily on on-premises technologies, the Windows Server 2012 track is for you.

Two exams are required for the Office 365 track:

  1. Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements, and,
  2. Enabling Office 365 Services

Three exams are required for the Windows Server 2012 track:

  1. Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012, and,
  2. Administering Windows Server 2012, and,
  3. Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

Once these prerequisite courses are completed, the successful exam taker will receive an MCSA, and be able to continue on to seek MCSE status in the desired area: Lync, Exchange, or SharePoint.

In addition to the prerequisite track chosen, Lync (or, Communication) MCSE's have two more tests to complete:

  1. Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013, and,  
  2. Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013

Those seeking Exchange (or, Messaging) MCSE, also have two additional tests:

  1. Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  2. Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013

And, similarly, SharePoint MCSE's will need just two more tests:

  1. Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  2. Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

I think there's obvious intent here to make choosing a Cloud-based MCSE certification quicker and easier. A Cloud MCSE only needs four tests to complete versus five for on-premises.