The official announcement about the March 2009 exam retirements I talked about earlier--including the MCDBA, MCAD, and MCSD exams--has been posted here. You have one year to finish up any of those exams, and a year to complete your MCDBA, MCAD, or MCSD, if you're working towards any of those. We'll start our year of reminders about this, please help by telling people you know.

Developer exams retiring on March 31, 2009

Microsoft SQL Server exams retiring on March 31, 2009

Yesterday was March 31, 2008, the retirement date for 22 Windows Server 2000 exams and some other stuff. That info has been updated here.

Andy commented about an extension to the retirement date for exams 70-292 and 70-296, and I know many of you have heard this elsewhere. Hmm. We are not extending the retirement date; there is no guarantee of availability of those exams after yesterday, March 31. What you're hearing about is a grace period that is in affect now, strictly for the purpose of helping our customers who are freaking out about missing the deadline or legitimately didn't know about it. We are not promoting this, the idea is only to have a little room for customers who need it.

This just in, we actually prefer happy customers.

This also just in, those exams have been out for five years, and we've been announcing this retirement for more than a year, and as of yesterday we can't make any promises. We (corp Microsoft) aren't promoting this 'grace period,' but the helpdesks would have told/will tell you about it if you contact them about one of those exams, and it is referenced on this page as of yesterday: "Please contact Prometric to find remaining dates and times...there is no guarantee of availability after March 31."

Here is a response I sent to a customer who was mad that we are retiring 70-292 and 70-296. Maybe you'd like to see it too.

We create upgrade exams in recognition and appreciation of Microsoft customers who keep building their skills on Microsoft's new technologies (i.e. who keep their certifications current). We know many customers really appreciate the upgrade path but it is not a given--the path makes most sense to customers who are fresh on the last release. These exams have now been available for five years—longer than we originally scoped—and some customers may now have been using Windows Server 2000 for eight years without a skills upgrade. We feel that, at this point, it makes more sense to look at skills on Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 from a fresh perspective.

We recognize, too, that some customers have just finished an MCSA or MCSE on Windows Server 2000, or are working to complete them now, and would like to use the upgrade path. As much as we would like to make every avenue available to every customer, we cannot, and have tried to put our resources where it makes the most sense for the most people. Our primary goal is to support Microsoft’s initiatives <by helping customers get certified on Microsoft technology>, and you can imagine that Microsoft is focused most heavily on moving forward.

Another reason we are ready to retire those exams is that we have seen low satisfaction from you (our customers) on those. The seat time for 292/296 combined with the complexity of the material created a pretty unpopular experience for most candidates. The new upgrade exams we are releasing (from 2003 to 2008) have been reworked so that they are both a good test of skills AND a manageable investment for customers to take, without having to retake them over and over again.

We have been doing our best to give one year notice about these exam retirements, to allow you to complete a path if you would like to do so. In this case, we have been promoting this date more than 12 months; I am sincerely sorry that you did not receive any of our notifications. We really want you to be happy with the program, and of course we would love to see you earn a Windows Server 2003 certification.

In related news, someone asked today: "<If we don't upgrade before 292 and 296 retire> what are the transition options for an MCSE / MCSA on Win 2K? Start over from square one? I would hope that we could at least get credit towards electives." We are all for you earning a 2003 certification, even after the upgrades retire. Your MCSA or MCSE 2000 can be used as your elective for MCSA or MCSE 2003. And if you used 70-210 in your 2000 cert, that applies to 2003 (I'll confirm this is true for future). Other than that, you need to fill in the remaining requirements. Retirement date aside, I've seen some of you who know what you're talking about recommend that people take the core exams (290/291/293/294) instead of the upgrades, just because you're more likely to pass them, anyway.

If you think there's a chance you'll be working with 2008, start along that path instead--as I've said a bunch, the paths are shorter, you earn certifications along the way, and we have gotten very good feedback about the exams (not to mention that WS2008 seems to be getting good reviews, too?).