Microsoft has announced two new certifications aimed at getting information workers and end users up to speed with Office 2007 and Windows Vista.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant on Thursday said it would begin offering its enhanced Microsoft Certified Application Specialist credential for Office 2007 by the end of the second quarter and a new Microsoft Certified Application Professional credential in the third quarter.
The credentials are aimed at information workers and end customers, but some Microsoft channel partners plan to earn the higher-end credential, even as they fulfill other partner requirements.
"We will absolutely have some of our key resources get the Certified Application Professional stuff," said Ken Winell, CEO of Expert Collab, a recently launched Microsoft solution provider in Florham Park, N.J. "It helps us differentiate from others."
The Application Specialist designation, formerly known as Office Specialist, will validate an end user's proficiency and skill within a single application: Windows Vista, Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, Office Outlook 2007, Office PowerPoint 2007 and Office Access 2007.
Pretests and Application Specialist credentials for Word 2007, Office 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 will be available in March. Credentials for Outlook 2007 and Access 2007 will be offered in May or June, Microsoft said. Local exams also will begin during that time frame.
Certified Application Professional, a more advanced certification, enables information workers to gain credentials for demonstrating the ability to use multiple products, including SharePoint 2007, across the Office 2007 system to accomplish specific projects and goals.
Microsoft will make available four skill-set certifications as part of the Application Professional program: managing budgets, managing presentations, managing team collaboration and supporting organizations.
Credentials for Managing Team Collaboration, Managing Presentations and Windows Vista will be available in August. Credentials for managing budgets and supporting organizations will be offered beginning in September, as will local exams.
Microsoft advises end users to take pretests online to determine their skill level and receive a custom learning path with prescribed training, Microsoft E-Learning and Microsoft Press books to help them prepare for exams.