Windows 7 Certification Options
At the moment, there are five Microsoft Windows 7 certifications that are available:
MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration
MCTS: Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, Deployment
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
MCSA: Windows 7
The two MCTS certifications had one exam each, and the WIndows 7 Configuration one was a prerequisite to both MCITP certifications. The choice of the MCITP certifications depended on whether you wanted to do a support or administration role.
Microsoft’s new certification structure means that the MCSA has come in, and will be the only Windows 7 certification in the future. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing… they are quite similar.
Windows 7 Certifications Are Similar
If you have a look at the exams required for each of these certifications, you’ll see the following:
MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration – 680
MCTS: Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, Deployment – 681
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 – 680, 685
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 – 680, 686
MCSA: Windows 7 – 680, 685/686
Notice that there are several exam codes that are common between these certifications – 680, 685, and 686. Also, Microsoft has stated on their website the following conditions for these certifications:
Until January 31, 2014, when you earn your MCSA: Windows 7 certification you also earn your MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration certification and either your MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 certification (Exams 680 and 686) or your MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 certification (Exams 680 and 685).
After January 2014, you can no longer earn the MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration, MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7, or MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 certifications, but Exams 680, 685, and 686 will still be required for the MCSA: Windows 7 certification.
In short, this means that up until January 31, 2014, you get all certifications available for each exam you pass. Passing the 680 will give you the MCTS, and then passing the 685 or 686 will give you the appropriate MCITP and the MCSA.
So, this means there’s really only one certification to get…
There Is One Standout Certification
Looking at the list of Windows 7 certifications above, and how the exams are related, it seems to me that the only certification you should get is the MCSA Windows 7. You’ll get an MCTS and an MCITP in this process, according to Microsoft.
The only choice you’ll have to make is which exam to take – the 685 (Enterprise Desktop Support) or the 686 (Enterprise Desktop Administration). This will depend on the kind of work you want to do. Desktop Support involves finding and fixing client issues, resolving networking issues with desktops and maintaining systems that run Windows 7. The Desktop Administrator exam involves creating images, deploying images to desktops and identifying and resolving client deployment issues.
There is currently an MCSE for Desktop Infrastructure, which is probably the closest certification on the next level, but doesn’t have any prerequisite exams for the MCSA in Windows 7.
If you want to know more about Microsoft certifications and IT certifications in general, such as which exams are involved and which ones will suit your role, get a copy of the All In One Guide to IT Certifications. A new version will be released in early-mid 2013 which will include the new Microsoft certifications.
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