I appreciate it's not just MS but most certifications that take the path I highlighted above.
And to add insult to injury the only time a company cares is that time of year when partnership is up for renewal. I have quite literally witnessed first hand where a manager has looked around a room, and picked whomever they thought would be most likely to pass the necessary exams in the time frame.
I was Citrix CCEA #54 way back in the very early 2000's.
My reward? Access to a CCEA only website. The only content on said site being a list of exams you needed to pass to attain CCEA...Not to mention that back then, it seemed the higher your certification with Citrix, the worse the quality of the certificate they sent - from the CCA with a gold embossed emblem to the CCEA which looked like it'd been self-printed on an HP DeskJet 500c on toilet paper - you could see through it when held up to the light.
Back in the day, at least MCSE gave you access to a free TechNet subscription which was handy to have.
Let's face it - no one in a serious position in a company gives a toss about certs. It's all about what you've done, where and for whom. Actually, I would go so far as to say I'm always a bit suspicious of those people with a list of certs longer than my arm...it makes me wonder if they ever have time to do their day job or they just spend it all with a nose in a book and sitting the damn things.
Certs != ability in the vast majority of cases.