Goodbye to the Microsoft Professional Program

I’ve worked with Microsoft technologies for over 20 years and, during that time, earned a good income to support my family and have a comfortable life. Despite that, Microsoft manages to break my heart again and again. Take the sad saga of the Windows Phone. I was working for Microsoft when the first Windows Phones arrived in the US in 2010, and we were expected to buy one. This was my first modern-day smartphone, but even before that, I used Windows Mobile phones like the Moto Q. I had to give up my Windows Phone for an Android two years ago when the lack of apps continued to diminish the usefulness of the phone. This was about the same time that Microsoft announced that they had abandoned the platform. My new Android phone is great, but I still miss my old Window Phone.

I was also a big fan of the Microsoft Band 2, a smartwatch. I happened to be at a conference in Seattle when they arrived in stores in 2015 and quickly purchased one at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue. The functionality of the device was terrific, and Microsoft even provided an SDK for writing your own apps. Unfortunately, the Band 2 was made to last about six months before malfunctioning or disintegrating. (I managed to get mine replaced twice during the one-year warranty period.) I had hoped that Microsoft would figure out a way to get the devices to hold up longer, but, unfortunately, they decided to abandon the line.

Even though I know that technology (and everything else) is constantly changing, my heart was broken once again last week as Microsoft announced the retirement of the Microsoft Professional Program (MPP) at the end of this year. The MPP is a certificate program with nine separate tracks ranging from Data Science to Cybersecurity to Entry Level Software Development. The courses feature recordings, practice labs, exams, forums, and a capstone project.

I completed several of the courses in the Data Science track in 2017 and learned so much that I started presenting a session at SQL Saturdays and other events called Azure Machine Learning 101 based on one of the courses. I’ve been promoting the MPP at each presentation and pointing people to the program when they ask me where to get training to be a developer, for example.

The FAQ page for the retirement announcement states that they “decided to take the best of the Microsoft Professional Program and apply it to a program where you can earn a technical certification when you complete your coursework.” Instead of the MPP, they are directing people to Microsoft Learn. At the time of this writing, there are 648 modules that you can take for free on Microsoft Learn that can help you prepare for traditional (MSCE, for example) or new role-based certifications.

Since the announcement, I’ve completed several of the Data Science and DevOps modules in the new platform. The modules are short and closely mapped to the functionality found in Azure. Even if you are not looking to earn a certification, they might be an excellent way to learn about a feature or technology that you are trying to figure out.

Just like my Android phone, I like the new online training. I’ll even promote it during my machine leaning presentation, but maybe I won’t get so attached this time.

Commentary Competition

Enjoyed the topic? Have a relevant anecdote? Disagree with the author? Leave your two cents on this post in the comments below, and our favourite response will win a $50 Amazon gift card. The competition closes two weeks from the date of publication, and the winner will be announced in the next Simple Talk newsletter.