Customer asks: What Windows Desktop Client exam should I take for the MCSA or MCTS?

April 15, 2013 at 9:37 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 1 Comment
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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. Click to find the latest posts by date on this topic.

In response to a recent post, blog reader Raj asked,

Please tell me which certification is best for Windows 7 – MCSA or MCTS ?? And how many exams I need to give to pass that particular exam. Also, I would like to know the validity of that certification.

The good news is that until January 31, 2014**, you don’t have to choose; the same exam counts towards both certifications. The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credentials are one-test certifications: one exam, and you’ve earned it. These are the same exams that are being phased out by Microsoft in favor of the new MCSA/MCSE certification family. The MCSA/MCSE credentials will require that you pass a minimum of three exams.

During the overlap period, however, select MCTS exams will serve double duty and count toward both certification families. We love a 2-for-1!

**ETA 8/15/2013: as Microsoft has changed several of the exam retirement dates since this post was written, please be sure to check the exam retirement master list or contact Microsoft directly to ensure the exam you need is still active.

What about the MCITP for desktop clients?

The MCITP desktop certifications (Windows Vista and Windows 7) are dependent on their underlying MCTS certifications, so these are being phased out as well. You only have three months left to take a Vista exam; all Vista-related exams are retiring on July 31, 2013.

The MCITP for Windows 7 is retiring on January 31, 2014. Please note that the actual exams are not being retired on that date; they’re being repurposed to the new certification paths of MCSA and MCSE. So after January 31, 2014, you won’t earn the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 or the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 certifications, but you can still take Exams 680, 685, and 686.

Also, any MCTS and MCITP certification will stay on your Microsoft transcript after the certification itself is retired, and you can mention it on your resume and to hiring managers for as long as it seems relevant to do so.

How does the MCITP relate to the MCSA?

Until January 31, 2014, the MCITP: EDST and the MCITP: EDA in Windows 7 are both functionally equivalent to the MCSA: Windows 7. To earn the MCSA: Windows 7, you have to pass this exams:

plus one of these two exams:

If you have already passed these exams, you should have received a notice from Microsoft that you were retroactively granted the MCSA as well.

The MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista and the MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista are not functionally equivalent to the MCSA for Windows 7, and Microsoft has not announced an upgrade path (as of the time of this post).

Why should I still care about MCTS?

The MCTS is the last of the one-test certifications. If you need a Microsoft certification under your belt today, the clock is ticking down to do so. Because the Windows 7 MCTS exams count towards the MCSA in Windows 7, you lose nothing by taking them.

There are only two MCTS level exams for Windows desktop operating systems:

If you don’t have experience in Windows 7 desktop client, you can take the 70-620 for a few more months.

Okay, so what test do I take today?

For non-credentialed exam-takers who do not hold any Windows client (XP, Vista, or 7) certification, and for those who are pursuing the MCSA in Windows 7, you should start with this exam (the sooner the better):

This is a quadruple-decker exam that has the potential to count towards four different certs. If you take it before January 2014, this exam will count toward the MCTS, the MCITP: EDA on Windows 7, MCITP: EDST on Windows 7, and the MCSA: Windows 7.

Since the Windows Vista exams do not count toward the MCSA, I would recommend taking these exams only if you have a pressing business need for this certification OR if you are in the final stages of earning your MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista (exams 70-620 and 70-622) or your MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista (exams 70-620 and 70-623).

Hope this helped!

–Ann and the Transcender Team

Other posts you may interested in:

Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?

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  1. […] Customer asks: What Windows Desktop Client exam should I take for the MCSA or MCTS? […]

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