There’s quite a bit of speculation on why Microsoft switched back to the MCSE name. While the acronym may have returned, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing. However, it does return value to the certification and revives the brand that Microsoft originally established across the IT world.

MCSE History

Windows NT Server was once the dominant server in the field. During that time, IT pros could receive an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) in Windows NT. After some time, Microsoft released Windows 2000 to replace Windows NT Server in the workplace. To ease the transition, Microsoft released a new MCSE version with an upgrade for certified professionals. In addition, this new version featured fewer exams than the original.

In 2003, Microsoft replaced Windows 2000 with Windows Server 2003 and a corresponding MCSE upgrade path for certified professionals. In addition to the MCSE, Microsoft introduced the MCSA with fewer exams toward the title of Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator.

Once Microsoft released Windows 2008 Server, the company never released a MCSE 2008 certification. Instead, Microsoft rebranded the certification, giving it the acronym MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional – as we blogged about here).  The company also replaced the MCSA with the MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist.) This unexpected switch of branding shocked IT professionals everywhere. After all, most IT recruiters and managers had extensive knowledge of the MCSE and MCSA, so asking about the MCITP and MCTS instantly caused confusion in the workplace.

Bringing Back the MCSE

So, why is Microsoft bringing back the MCSE? Does it have something to do with the confusion it started in 2008, or has the company come to its senses and realized the significance of the branding? It’s hard to answer those questions, but at least the company decided that the MCSE and MCSA make more sense.

However, before most people in IT celebrate the MCSE’s return, there’s something different about the new certifications: The acronyms don’t necessarily mean the same thing anymore. That’s right; the new MCSE stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, and the MCSA is short for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. Is anyone confused yet?

Final Thought

In the end, perhaps Microsoft changed the meaning of the original MCSE because to be an “engineer,” you need a degree. A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert only needs to pass a few (very tough) exams to receive a certificate to place on the wall. In addition to its change in meaning, the new MCSE is reinvented for the cloud. Whether the new MCSE can live up to its old status remains unknown, but at least IT pros across the world can place the certificate on their office walls once again.