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Michael Taschler

Cloud Certifications: Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator Associate

Michael Taschler

  • Sep 9, 2020
  • 13 Min read
  • Sep 9, 2020
  • 13 Min read
Cloud Platforms
Cloud Platforms


With numerous ways of deploying client operating systems like Microsoft's Windows 10, it is of the utmost importance to get it right the first time. When deploying for a large organization, you won't have the luxury of failing fast and failing often. With all the people and moving parts involved, this needs to be executed as perfectly as possible.

Microsoft offers a whole range of ways and just as many different tools to achieve this perfect outcome, and the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification will provide you with the knowledge and skills to successfully use them.

In this guide, you will learn about this certification and the exam you can take to achieve it.

Microsoft Certified Associate Badge Image

The Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification follows Microsoft's departure from broader certifications like the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) or its older sibling, the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Nowadays the focus is on specific roles.

Target Audience

The ideal candidate for this exam aspires to deploy, configure, secure, manage, and monitor devices and client applications in an enterprise environment. They manage identity, access, policies, updates, and apps.

They typically collaborate with the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator to design and implement a device strategy that meets the business needs of a modern organization.

They should be familiar with Microsoft 365 workloads and must be proficient and experienced in deploying, configuring, and maintaining Windows 10 and non-Windows devices and technologies.

Candidates for this certification are self-directed and solution-focused. They may not have formal IT training, but they are comfortable using technology to solve business problems with a personal growth mindset. They understand the operational need and have a vision of the desired outcome. They approach problems with phased and iterative strategies.

Applicable Exams

Two exams, MD-100: Windows 10, and MD-101: Managing Modern Desktops, are required to gain the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification. It is important to understand that Microsoft has taken up the practice of retiring and replacing exams at a much faster pace than in the past. Since the cloud is ever-changing, Microsoft updates live exams frequently.

The price for each exam is US$165/€165. Microsoft offers a student discount if you verify your academic status when booking the exam by using one of the following: a school email account, a school account, an International Student Identity Card, a verification code, or other documentation proving your eligibility for the student discount.


While there are no specific prerequisites to taking these exams, it is worth noting that experience with the required skills is key to a successful experience.

Learning Path for Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate

Ensure that you possess sufficient experience and invest the time to go through the relevant Pluralsight courses and other resources.

Skills Measured

Your skills will be measured in the following eight categories:


  • Deploy Windows (15-20%)
  • Manage Devices and Data (35-40%)
  • Configure Connectivity (15-20%)
  • Maintain Windows (25-30%)


  • Deploy and Update Operating Systems (35-40%)
  • Manage Policies and Profiles (25-30%)
  • Manage and Protect Devices (20-25%)
  • Manage Apps and Data (10-15%)

These categories are broken down into details as follows, according to the exam skills outline:

Deploy Windows

Deploy Windows 10

  • Configure language packs
  • Migrate user data
  • Perform a clean installation
  • Perform an in-place upgrade (using tools such as MDT, WDS, ADK, etc.)
  • Select the appropriate windows edition
  • Troubleshoot activation issues

Perform post-installation configuration

  • Configure Edge and Internet Explorer
  • Configure mobility settings
  • Configure sign-in options
  • Customize the Windows desktop

Manage Devices and Data

Manage local users, local groups, and devices

  • Manage devices in directories
  • Manage local groups
  • Manage local users

Configure data access and protection

  • Configure NTFS permissions
  • Configure shared permissions

Configure devices by using local policies

  • Configure local registry
  • Implement local policy
  • Troubleshoot group policies on devices

Manage Windows security

  • Configure user account control (UAC)
  • Configure Windows Defender Firewall
  • Implement encryption

Configure Connectivity

Configure networking

  • Configure client IP settings
  • Configure mobile networking
  • Configure VPN client
  • Troubleshoot networking
  • Configure Wi-Fi profiles

Configure remote connectivity

  • Configure remote management
  • Enable PowerShell Remoting
  • Configure remote desktop access

Maintain Windows

Configure system and data recovery

  • Perform file recovery (including OneDrive)
  • Recover Windows 10
  • Troubleshoot startup/boot process

Manage updates

  • Check for updates
  • Troubleshoot updates
  • Validate and test updates
  • Select the appropriate servicing channel
  • Configure Windows update options

Monitor and manage Windows

  • Configure and analyze event logs
  • Manage performance
  • Manage Windows 10 environment

Deploy and Update Operating Systems

Plan and implement Windows 10 by using dynamic deployment

  • Evaluate and select an appropriate deployment options
  • Pilot deployment
  • Manage and troubleshoot provisioning packages
  • Evaluate deployment options in Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Plan and implement Windows 10 by using Windows Autopilot

  • Evaluate and select an appropriate deployment options
  • Pilot deployment
  • Create, validate, and assign deployment profile
  • Extract device HW information to CSV file
  • Import device HW information to cloud service
  • Troubleshoot deployment

Upgrade devices to Windows 10

  • Identify upgrade and downgrade paths
  • Manage in-place upgrades
  • Configure a Desktop Analytics environment
  • Assess which computers can be upgraded to Windows 10
  • Migrate user profiles

Manage updates

  • Configure Windows 10 delivery optimization
  • Configure Windows Update for Business
  • Deploy Windows updates
  • Implement feature updates
  • Monitor Windows 10 updates

Manage device authentication

  • Manage authentication policies
  • Manage sign-on options
  • perform Azure AD join

Manage Policies and Profiles

Plan and implement co-management

  • Implement co-management precedence
  • Migrate group policy to MDM policies
  • Recommend a co-management strategy

Implement conditional access and compliance policies for devices

  • Implement conditional access policies
  • Manage conditional access policies
  • Plan conditional access policies
  • Implement device compliance policies
  • Manage device compliance policies
  • Plan device compliance policies

Configure device profiles

  • Implement device profiles
  • Manage device profiles
  • Plan device profiles

Manage user profiles

  • Configure user profiles
  • Configure Enterprise State Roaming in Azure AD
  • Configure sync settings
  • Implement Folder Redirection, including OneDrive

Manage and Protect Devices

Manage Windows Defender

  • Implement and manage Windows Defender Application Guard
  • Implement and manage Windows Defender Credential Guard
  • Implement and manage Windows Defender Exploit Guard
  • Implement Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection
  • Integrate Windows Defender Application Control
  • Manage Windows Defender Antivirus

Manage Intune device enrollment and inventory

  • Configure enrollment settings
  • Configure Intune automatic enrollment
  • Enable device enrollment
  • Enroll non-Windows devices
  • Enroll Windows devices
  • Generate custom device inventory reports’

Review device inventory Monitor devices

  • Monitor device health (e.g., log analytics, Desktop Analytics, or other cloud-based tools, etc.)
  • Monitor device security

Manage Apps and Data

Deploy and update applications

  • Assign apps to groups
  • Deploy apps by using Intune
  • Deploy apps by using Microsoft Store for Business
  • Deploy O365 ProPlus
  • Enable sideloading of apps into images
  • Gather Office readiness data
  • Configure and implement kiosk (assigned access) or public devices

Implement Mobile Application Management (MAM)

  • Implement MAM policies
  • Manage MAM policies
  • Plan MAM
  • Configure Windows Information Protection
  • Implement Azure Information Protection templates
  • Securing data by using Intune

Pluralsight Courses

The following Pluralsight learning paths will help you prepare for the exam:

Make sure you also check out Pluralsight's Microsoft 365 Fundamentals (MS-900) learning path, which currently contains three courses.

Make sure you regularly check the Pluralsight website for updates.

Other Resources

Microsoft Learn provides training resources free of charge. Take a look at the following learning paths:

Utilizing the Microsoft Docs and navigating to the relevant topics will also enable you to prepare for this exam.

Compensation and Employment Outlook

The cloud business has been booming in the last several years. Microsoft is a leader in this area and keeps growing. While COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way, it certainly doesn't seem to have had a negative impact on Microsoft's cloud growth.

Gaining an up-to-date certification like the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification from a household name like Microsoft should make you much more attractive to both current and future employers, especially since the cloud is booming. Your current employer might not raise your salary, but the next time you go looking for a job make sure you check trusted Internet sources for up-to-date information on salaries in your region.

It's difficult to provide absolute figures because they depend on numerous factors like your experience, company type and size, industry, and region, especially given the wide range of potential job roles in this space, such as systems administrators, engineers, consultants, and architects. According to Nigel Frank, you can expect average salaries for modern desktop administrators to range from US$82,500 to US$124,600 in the United States.


As an associate-level certification, the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate credential, while challenging, will earn you recognition as a subject matter expert in this field. All it takes is a single exam.

Head over to Microsoft Evaluation Center for free evaluation versions and book the exams, which you can take right in your home or in one of many testing centers.

I hope that this guide is useful and wish you good luck in gaining your certification.