Microsoft Certified Master – 5 Years On

Time flies.  It’s now been 5 years since I completed the Exchange 2007 Microsoft Certified Master course in not so sunny Redmond.  That was MCM rotation 4, which was the last Exchange 2007 rotation.  If memory serves me correctly we started on the Monday the 2nd of November 2009 and finished on Saturday the 21st.

During this Exchange love fest we had a total of 4 tests.  3 written tests and the qual lab.  After each week there would be a written test which covered the content from the preceding week.  For us it was on the following Monday.  Though in week 3 we had the week 2 content tested on the Monday, the week 3 exam on Friday and the qual lab the next day (Saturday).  Owch, that is still painful even thinking about it.  The below MCP exam transcript does not really do justice to the effort, cost and blood spent to earn each line….;.

RMILNE Exchange MCM Transcript

One common comment is that this is a marathon of Exchange!  To get through it and stay healthy is a challenge. I elected to stay at the silver cloud hotel and walk to campus daily.  That 15 minute walk there and back at the end of the day was a blessing!  Before settling down to do more study at the end of a 12 hour day, I got into the habit of swimming in the highly chlorinated pool.  And to assist with memory retention whilst in building 40, paid many frequent visits to one special Starbucks coffee dispensing contraption.

Then there came the crazy little thing called the qual lab…

On the topic of other crazy little things, November the 24th is also the day that Freddie Mercury died.  *


Greg, as only Greg can/will do, blogged as we were doing the qual lab in his normal style: 17 Frowns and a Box of Donuts.  At the end of the day there were 10 happy souls, though only 9 knew about it.  One person thought that they had not completed the final task, but they had.  They just needed cached store data to expire and everything was perfect!

What has happened since that?  Lots of good stuff, and some bad…

Good Stuff

There was a great bunch of people in my rotation.  And to this day we still all help each other out and that is one of the best outcomes from the MCM.  The same is true for the wider MCM community.  These are the most passionate and capable people that you’d every dream of working with and it is a vibrant community.  Every day I learn some arcane aspect of Exchange.

12 months after this we had a mini-reunion and a lot of MCM R4 came back to do the Exchange 2010 MCM upgrade course.  This was a beast.  Lots of content compressed into a single week, with a written exam at the end followed by yet another qual lab.  There were 25 people attending, all of which were existing MCMs and only half a dozen walked away fully upgraded.  Thankfully I was one of them, but it was rough.  I seem to remember not being able to sleep with my leg muscles going into spasm.  After completing the written test things  was a blur. Then the qual lab was done on vapours and RockStar (thanks for that Dan S!).  Did I say it was a tough week?

There used to be a nice page on the Microsoft learning (MSL) portion of Microsoft.com where you could see all the people who had passed MCM/MCA and agreed to their name being publically displayed.  Now there are a series of PDF files in lieu.

Having my brain melted with all of the MCM content certainly helped the technical interviews when applying to Microsoft.  I’m still not really sure if Eric wanted to hire me for my technical acumen or since I was crazy enough to crack jokes with them whilst being interviewed.

Bad Stuff

I clearly remember being up late on a Friday evening in August, when an email popped up.  It was the Friday on a long weekend.  This was from MSL and it said that the MCM programme was being cut.  I read it.  Then re-read it and was wondering if the date was not the 1st of April.  Unfortunately the date was the 30th of August 2013 and the email was real.

Neil has the content of letter posted, and there are some “interesting” comments.

While I can understand that MSL has the right to change/cancel any one of its programmes, the way that all of the MCM programmes were cancelled was inexcusable.  IIRC there were non-exchange rotations currently in-progress when the news was released, and Exchange rotations starting in the near future.  When a standard MCP exam is scheduled to retire there is significant amount of notice given so people can plan accordingly.  One can only imagine why this was not also afforded to the MCM track.  An MCP exam costs $150 USD.  MCM was $18,500 or so….

The other not so good memory, relates to walking to the qual lab.  After drinking a can of RockStar I then walked to campus.  Half way up the hill I thought the scene in Alien featuring John Hurt was being re-enacted and my heart was about to detach itself.  That was the last time I drank that potion,  Well until the next qual lab!



* – That was 1991.  Time certainly does fly.

Rhoderick Milne [MSFT]

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