MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold

February 8, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 31 Comments
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published.

(Editor’s note: This post belongs to our ongoing series about the new generation of Microsoft certifications. See also Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?, Don’t wait to finish your MCTS or MCITP: Microsoft retiring exam tracks, and Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA).)

Having wandered the wilderness of Java and CIW certification for some years, I didn’t move into Microsoft developer certs until about 2002. At that time, the MCSD (known then as Microsoft Certified SolutioN Developer) was a catch-all certification, requiring a wide array of Visual Basic, DCOM, and ASP knowledge. Its prestige was based on the complexity and intensity of the exam objectives, and not whether these skills were required by a specific job role in the real world. Most Microsoft developers I knew focused on a type of application, whether it was Windows- or Web-based — not the entire gamut of Microsoft developer technology.

For that reason, few developers were surprised when Microsoft announced new developer certifications for .NET  that  focused on skill sets related to actual job roles.  This change occured during Microsoft’s overall revamp of its certifications that resulted in the demise of the Windows NT and Server 2003-era MCSE. The “next generation” developer certifications were branded as the TS (Technology Specialist) level exams and the newly minted MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer). But in doing away with the old MCSD, Microsoft also lost the recognition the acronym had gained over the years.

So what could Microsoft do but find a way to join those job roles with their former reputation, like some cheesy romantic comedy?

Pretty Woman and the MCSD

Is that a shiny MCSD  for my hard work?

For 2012, enter the Microsoft Certification SolutionS Developer (noticed the new s?).  The acronym is also MCSD, but each certification is focused on an application type.* That way you can have your MCSD and eat it, too.




*There is also a certification for Application Lifecycle Management, but this is a new area for the MCSD entirely.

When looking at the primary certification tracks, you will notice that there is one exam that provides a common entry point for both Windows Store Apps and Web Applications – the 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3. To encourage the new certification scheme, Microsoft is offering free training and a voucher for the introductory exam! If you are using C#, then the 70-483: Programming in C# has a lot in common with the old 70-536 exam. And if you are familiar with VB.NET – no certification for you!

What was old is new again and new technology is now grandfathered into the old framework. Somewhat like taking those old floppy drives in your garage earning you new YouTube hits with their mechanical gyrations …

Until next time,

–Josh Hester, codeguru


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  1. Hi Guys. When will the first product for the new MCSD certification be released?

    • Great question. Our first exam in the pipeline is the 70-480. This exam requires more effort, because we are emulating Microsoft’s new item types and color coding. We are hoping to have it available the first half of this year.

      • Hey Josh – Any update on this? Really hoping to pick up the 70-480 Transcender soon!!

        • You’ll get it very early this summer!

          • Any idea when your product for Exam 70-483: Programming in C# will be released?

  2. Is there a release date for product for Exam 70-483: Programming in C#?

    • This is in the pipeline, but we are dedicated to completing the HTML5 track first. That track should be completed before or on Q1 of 2014 and then 483 will be next.

  3. We are nearly done with Q2 of 2013. Do you have a release date for 70-481?

    • Is there a release date for 70-480, the first exam in the HTML5 track?

      • That should be coming out in the next few weeks. Our practice test, like the live exam, contains quite a few specialty items, so it is taking as longer to create and get through our Q/A process. But I promise that the result will be well worth the wait!

        • Hi guys. Is the release date for 70-480 available?

          • We are in Q/A as I write. Should be due out very soon! We’ll announce its release on this blog, so stay tuned!

            • Is a September release looking possible?

              • Actually, it should be this month…the test is done, just a few tweaks on the Web site for this new track! Stay tuned!

                • When will 70-486 and 70-487 be released?

                  • Those exams are not in the development plan for this year. The 70-481 and 70-483 exams are next.

                    • No 70-483-6 or 70-487 this year? Major Bummer.

                    • If you know of any Windows 8 App developers who can help in development, send them our way!

                    • For us, too! We’re looking into cloning Josh.

      • I apparently curse the whole process if I post the “release date” on this blog. That’s when the production engine blows up, or we have a flood, or half of QA calls in sick. So I’ll just say that I have you on my notify list for 70-480 and 70-483 – be sure to add to your safe senders list so it doesn’t get spam-canned.

    • We are committed to the the HTML5 track this year. We’re currently wrapping up 70-480 and should be in a good place to determine a closer release date then.

      • Is it possible to get notified when a Transcender test is released for 70-480? Going to take the exam very soon and want to make sure to pass it :-)

        • Absolutely; I have a notification list and have just added you. Please add to your safe senders list so it doesn’t get spam-canned.

  4. How about 70-486, and 70-487? Any clues as to when those will be available? I would love to be added to the notification list for those

    • Those exams are not in the development plan for this year. The 70-481 and 70-483 exams are next. I have added you to the notification list, so please add to your safe senders list!

    • Cedar, you are added. Please be aware that they aren’t on our development plan yet – it will be first quarter of 2014 when we have a clear idea of our timeline.

  5. Hi,
    Could you please add my address to the notification list for 70-483 materials release?

    • Sure. The Blog Mistress is in charge of the list, but I can let her know.

    • Absolutely – you’ve been added!

  6. Now that we are in Q1 of 2014, any plans for 70-486 or 70-487?

    • We are currently in the process of revising the 70-483 and then moving onto the 70-486. The 70-487 would follow that, but since we are still gathering resources for those projects, I cannot commit to any release dates.

      If you or anyone you know are interested in helping with the development of these exams, please let us know! That could get these exams out even sooner!

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