The Microsoft world is eagerly awaiting announcements around the next version of Windows. As is always the case around the time that the next version of the product is announced, I’m asked by people who are interested in certification whether they should study the current version of the product, or should they wait until exams appear for the next version of the product?
For me the key to answering this question has always been that certifications should primarily be used to attest to the skills you have used rather than skills that you aspire to use. So if you’re happy to wait around until you’ve configured and managed the vNext version of Windows on a day to day basis for enough time to be familiar enough with the product to take on an exam with it, then sure, you should wait.
The people who are most suited to taking an exam when it first comes out are those that are already highly familiar with the most recent version of the technology, and who have spent some time with the new version of the technology. For example, I’ve taken quite a few beta exams – but that’s usually after I’ve spent time writing about and testing the new technology at some length and usually when I’m very familiar with the previous version of the technology being tested.
The other thing to take into consideration is that the resources you can use to study for the current version of the technology are, for the foreseeable future, going to be a lot more mature than the resources for the next version of the technology. While some people can go into exams without checking TechNet, viewing TechEd sessions, taking a practice test or two, or reading exam preparation texts, most of us need some additional preparation before we’re ready to face the testing center.
So my advice today in the bottom half of 2014 is that if you want to get your MCSA or MCSE, you should do it on the 2012 R2 technologies because those are the ones that are best documented and that you shouldn’t wait around for the vNext technologies – especially as the products themselves haven’t been announced (so the release date of any exams isn’t just speculative, it’s downright imaginary). Even if you do want to certify on the new technology in the future, it won’t hurt you right now to certify on the current tech. For the most part, what you learn about the current tech will help you with the next version. You’ll also be able to take any upgrade exam that may appear at some point in that downright imaginary future.