Turn About On Certification

By: Richard Lowe

On October 11th I was reading my email as usual when I opened one which
stated something so unbelievable that I had to read it three times. I will
admit the news was nothing compared to the events going on in the rest of
the world (the September 11th terrorist attack and aftermath). However, it
was very welcome nonetheless.

Microsoft has changed their policy on retiring certifications.

If you will remember, over a year ago Microsoft had announced that the
Windows NT 4.0 certifications were being retired on December 31st, 2001.
This meant that everyone who had slaved for months or even years to pass
their exams had to rush to take the new exams for the newest operating
system (Windows 2000).

Needless to say, this announcement caused quite a stir in much of the
computer industry. There were hundreds of thousands of MCSE's, and all of
them were effected by this decision. What made it even worse was the fact
that most of us were not even upgrading to Windows 2000 anytime in the near
future. Thus, we had to get certified yet we didn't really need to get
certified to do our jobs.

There were quite a few annoucements. The two regarding MCSE's state exactly
what I had suggested in a previous article "Microsoft's ^@&^#&@ W2K MCSE
Policy", so I was very happy indeed.


...on Windows NT 4.0, which designates the related certification as based on
Windows NT 4.0. This designation applies to the following certifications:
MCP, MCSE, MCSE+I, MCP+I, and MCP+Site Building. Thus, this MCSE would
formally be called "MCSE on Windows NT 4.0."

...on Microsoft Windows 2000, which designates the related certification as
based on Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, or Windows Server .NET.

designation applies to the following certifications: MCP, MCSE, MCSA, and
MCDBA (except for the latter, it's called "MCDBA on SQL Server 2000"
instead). Here, this MCSE would formally be called "MCSE on Microsoft
Windows 2000."

The bottom line is simple. Those of us who have the MCSE certification do
not need to worry about losing it at the end of the year. It also makes
things much easier for me as an employer - now I will be able to look at a
certification and get a little more information. Instead of just finding out
someone is an expert on Microsoft operating systems, I will now find out
exactly which operating system.

Microsoft also added a new certification, called MCSA, or Microsoft
Certified Systems Administrator. This certification is great news, as it
provides something between MCP and MCSE. Why is this necessary? The new MCSE
for Windows 2000 is a very tough exam and it might take someone (especially
those of us who work for a living) quite some time to get it done.

The MCSA certification requires three core exams and one elective. The
certification is actually very well designed, and should serve as a useful
guide for employers.

Why the change? Well, I think there are a number of reasons. The biggest
reason? The terrorist attack and it's effect on the economy.
My peers and I have seen, in just a month, our budgets disappear, especially
for things like upgrades and certifications. My boss put it very well to me
last week, "if you have the choice between upgrading and laying people off,
what are you going to do?" The answer is obvious. At my company, we have
postponed upgrading until next year at least, which means we do not need to
get certified.

Another big reason is that MCSE's have jobs, and I don't know about you, but
I have trouble finding time to take the classes and tests to continue
certification. It's hard enough just to keep the wife happy, write some
articles, and maintain the job. So the certification, testing and learning
will wait.

On top of that, Microsoft has been very unsuccessful in trying to force the
computer industry to upgrade to Windows 2000 and beyond. Yes, my company did
install Windows 2000 on all of our laptops, but we've found Windows NT 4.0
works very well on our other servers and workstations. We have no intention
or need to upgrade our hundreds of systems for the next several years,
unless their is a valid business reason.

Even more importantly, even though we may upgrade our systems to Windows
2000, we have no intention of installing Active Directory anytime soon. Why
not? This is a huge change and we simply don't want to support it at this

Finally, the industry backlash on Microsoft has been huge, and the power of
400,000+ MCSE's and their supervisors should not be underestimated.

Personally, I am happy that Microsoft has made this change. Now I can
concentrate on important issues like polishing our disaster site, upgrading
our security measures, ensuring our backups work properly and making our
systems work better for our users.


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