Poll: Most Agree With Decision on Certification Changes

Despite initial flood of negative comments, respondents to a poll on MCSA/MCSE program changes overwhelmingly positive.

There's often a pattern to the reaction from the Microsoft IT community when Redmond changes the certification rules. First is anger, then resignation, then acceptance and happiness. It happened when Redmond first announced it was going to decertify all Windows NT 4.0 MCSEs at the end of 2001, then rescinded its plans and went to versioning. And it’s happened again with the upgrade to Windows .NET Server 2003 certification, if the results of a recent poll are any indication.

As reported in the January issue, Microsoft originally decided to use a mix-and-match path to MCSE and MCSA certification, allowing tests from either Windows 2000 or .NET to count. Now Microsoft has backtracked and says it will simply offer upgrade exams for those holding a Win2K MCSE or MCSA.

On the Web site, following the story about the switch, hundreds of responses were posted, most of them very negative toward the flip-flop. But a poll shows that most respondents think it’s a good idea, even though the naysayers are still well-represented.

Visitors to were asked to say whether they thought the idea of upgrade exams for .NET certification was positive or negative. Out of 568 votes cast, about 60 percent thought it was a good idea, with slightly more than 31 percent disagreeing. Approximately 8 percent couldn’t make up their minds.

This comment from a Web visitor was fairly typical of those upset at the change: “This is just great. We were told to get the Win2K certs because Microsoft would not require us to take more classes and exams for .NET, but now they’re changing their minds? This is wrong. It would be different if Microsoft had told us back in the early Win2K days that this was going to be the case. I guess now I might just look at someone else’s certs and quit shelling out money to a company that changes the path on us every six months. I am tired of testing to keep up to do what it takes for us to stay current and employable.”

Win2K MCSAs/MCSEs will need one or two more exams to upgrade to .NET MCSA/MCSE. Is this a good idea? (Total votes: 568)
.NET Upgrade Results

Representing the opposite end of the spectrum was this comment: “Everyone whining about this recent decision is simply looking for a free cert. Who cares that the Win2K and .NET certs are going to be distinct now? Frankly, I think this will benefit us since each certification—NT/2000/.NET—will tell employers, recruiters and so on exactly what we are certified to do.”

The poll results can be found at Comments on the news from Microsoft can be found at

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Sun, Mar 7, 2004 suresh hydreabad

i am unable to start a new test in is giving recordingapplet class not found exception.pls help me how i can find solution for this.

Tue, Mar 4, 2003 alex india

dear fellows,
ok agreed that microsoft is thinking abt new exams.. but do u guys know that they have very recently changed the exam format. i went to the exam centre for exam registration and they tell me that boy the format has changed .. now i am a guy fully prepared top take the exam but cant coz i have to find out hte format first.. can someone gimme a clue what is happening there..

Mon, Feb 3, 2003 Gunderstone Anonymous

Anonymous, I normally defer from responding to people who don't even have the guts to put some level of moniker on the boards, but in your case I'm going to make an exception. I've passed MANY exams in my multiple years in the field. I never said I was a god, and in fact there are many people in the field that know more than me. You're mistaken about "certifying on product lines, to have them valid for only a year ( Windows 2k, Exchange 2k, Etc. ) " because the ones you've mentioned are all still active and have been since 2000 and will be so over the next couple of years anyway and any admin or engineer worth their salt is always in "training" mode because there is ALWAYS something new to learn. Step up or move on but the technology is not going to wait for you.

Mon, Feb 3, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

"Chicken Little would have voted but she was knocked out by a falling chunk of sky." Your editors should do a better job proofing your content.

Thu, Jan 30, 2003 Sajjad KSA

i dont like to be tested once again. Microsoft you are not doing well with your Professionals. think again!!!

Thu, Jan 30, 2003 Ahmed Fraz Pakistan

I hate microsoft's Policy to upgrade the the mcses. being MCSE if you are certified once in specifice microsoft product you must not be checked once again as you are already tested for a specific product. if microsoft launches a new product then new ones can obtain the new certifications by new products. it was a nice decision from microsoft earlliar that there will remain both certifications seprately (win2k/.net) i suggest that microsoft should look onceagain on its new exam upgradation policy

Wed, Jan 29, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Gunderstone sounds like a "Geek" who managed to pass a test, and now thinks he is God of all servers. For those of us who know what we are talking about, we are tired of certifying on product lines, to have them valid for only a year ( Windows 2k, Exchange 2k, Etc. ) and to be constantly in a "training" mode. This gets to be very expensive for both employers and employees, as well as confusing for the end user customers.
Hopefully, Gunderstone can climb out from under the bottom of the "Geek" pile and realize this.

Wed, Jan 29, 2003 Gunderstone Anonymous

I am a firm believer in learning the product, and part of that learning is maintaining what you're working with.

You buy a car and do more than just put gas in it if you want it to run more than 30,000 miles.

The same should be said for how you work.

Many people go to college for a particular career and then do something else. Someone who went to school for accounting, graduated and then somehow wound up working for ten years as an office manager is not an accountant, they are an office manager.

Much the same can be said for some people who obtain their certifications. I don't care if they went to classes for it, tested out, boot camped or brain dumped their way through it, if they are working on the help desk, they are a help desk technician.

Someday, when they get past that position and into others like level II or server or network administrator, then they'll have the time in to "back up" their certification.

To go back to the "college for a particular career" thought, yeah, a person who went to college for accounting and earned their degree is "an accountant" once they get a job in the field, (not before) but they have to get that job first. Also, as accounting practices and tax laws change they will need to learn the changes as well or they will always stay an entry level accountant who just ends up doing day to day bookkeeping.

Not every person who has been in the field 2 years is a paper cert (although there are many it is not all). The same can be said for long timers in the field too. Many long timers know they are "it", have nothing to prove and tend to stay up to date in their knowledge in some way, shape or form. This is not to say that all of them do. I know some long timers who probably USED to have a clue but they are coasting and not keeping up because they are riding the last 5 years and they are out to retirementville. You know what, as long as they are not in the way of people trying to get the work done, let them be, they've done their bit for king and country. As to the others, the long timers who have somehow gotten by on a wing and a prayer and never had a clue, well, they know just enough to be dangerous. Put them in the server room with the paper cert and I wonder who would bring the network down first.

For the rest of us, we need to keep up or get out of the way.

The technology is not going to stop from all of the crying I see in here but you know what, I welcome it.

Perhaps Anonymous and the rest of his cowardly cousins will actually all quit and never cert on a Microsoft anything again and that will help move the certifications back towards center after the long slide towards the bottom of the geek pile.

Mon, Jan 27, 2003 Mike P Anonymous

This is funny, you people work in IT and are complaining about things changing without notice. I am sure everyone here has had more unexpected stuff thrown on them at their job with a unrealistic timeline then this minor cert exam. I say get them both regardless of the path. ahead complain and whine and not get the cert, its one less person I have to worry about going after a job I'm interested in.

Sat, Jan 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

bill ; you are not professional and you did not succed to make IT world busy with your silly changes .
hello IT world : I think it's time to establish organization to protect IT world from this bill

Sat, Jan 25, 2003 Jeremy San Antonio, TX

My employer (a VAR) has a new policy taking effect in July. If you aren't certified in a certain area, you aren't allowed to sell, install, or support a product.

I passed the 70-210 and 70-215 (Windows 2000 Pro & Server, respectively) exams based on knowledge self-obtained through first-hand use. Within a week of each other no less. I plan on finishing the MCSE track for Windows 2000 this way, and will gladly pay another $250 or $375 to upgrade to 2003 MCSE status. The lifespan for an MCSE cert seems to be 3-4 years now. My employer also pays for the fees for passed exams, with an incentive bonus on top of that.

Anyone complaining about having to take a month out of their life to upgrade their status to the next OS version (which will be valid for another three years or so) isn't cut out for the IT industry. And I'm sorry.

But I hear McDonalds doesn't even require a diploma, or any kind of knowledge-upgrade. And they're always hiring!

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 vinay vancouver

I do not understad , why you people upset. We are not upgrading for Microsoft, Novell or Cisco. We are upgrading for ourselfs and our clients. If new OS comes, we have to proof, that we know it, so show through upgradation. How you can differentiate between MCSEin NT4.0 and W2K, if no further certs. So my friends come on and do it ASAP. Good for you .

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 colossus Anonymous

Fact: If your company wants to upgrade, you need to upgrade. If your company isn't interested in upgrading, you don't have to. Look at the bright side: Ms is coming out with OSs so fast, no one's interested in upgrading all that much.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I think Microsoft has confused so many people on the different tracks, that a majority are just going to give up on them, and seek "Other" certifications. They are doing the same thing with their licensing tracks, to their customers, (end users).
Microsoft is fast becoming one of the most hated names in the industry. They are only slitting their own throats.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Cinci_MCSE Cincinnati, Ohio

RE Lawrence,

The only problem that I see in tying the cert to a degree is that I know a number of people who are undegreed but turned the IT into their profession and do VERY well on it. I have a friend who is undegreed but is a programmer for Netscape. In addition, what degrees would apply for the MCSE? My Chemical Engineering degree has nothing to do with computers yet I do quiet nicely on my work and the exams.

RE: Anonymous from 1/24/03

And I think the general complaint is that MS keeps changing things midstream. They waffle so much on the MCSE/MCSA programs, that I am looking at other more "stable" certifications. The devaluing of the MCSE/MCSA is discouraging to me especially since my supervisor (I work for a VAR) has said that MCSEs are getting close to a dime a dozen.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Matt UK

Publishing a new OS with a better quality and more features, as well as having different paths for certification is all about development of skills and experience.

If you are an investor who wants to pay $2000 to get certified and earn money for the rest of your life, you are in the wrong industry. You can consider starting to deliver pizza since you do not have to improve your skills.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

MCP Mag is really stretching when they conclude that a positive response to the upgrade certification path means we all like the new cert. If I wanted Microsoft's spin I'd go straight to their site.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I have heard NO complaints here about being certified on the product that we support. What I AM hearing is that people are tired of the fact that Microsoft can't seem to make up their minds, which in effect, is causing Employers and Employees to spend vast amounts of time, effort and money, in areas that could have been focused elsewhere. The only group that benefits from this is Microsoft.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Lawrence Virginia

I hope to get some ground root support this and I will be submitting this idea to Microsoft and Cisco.
I propose that they make a differance in the certs by requiring that the MCSEs hold a BS in CS, CIS, EE, or other tech pusuit and that the MCSA. It will make the SE more of a professional cert and more respected. It will not eliminate paper certs but at least it will ensure a common base of knowledge for certified proffesionals.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

LOOK! Another poll question rigged for good results! Instead of asking "Win2K MCSAs/MCSEs will need one or two more exams to upgrade to .NET MCSA/MCSE. Is this a good idea? " why not ask a question that will give you true answers. Here's a suggestion, "How many exams should a person who has Windows 2000 certification have to take to earn the equivalent Windows 2003 certification?" On the question you're poll asked, there was no option to indicate that it should be ZERO; so I bet many people 'like me' selected the option with the least number of test mentioned -- figuring if it came out with No as being the highest you'd interperate that as there needing to be even more exams. Your question is not only not scientificly valid, but is also just down of poor quality, as it is ambiguious.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 John Alabama

People who are employed by Microsoft should not be allowed to vote in these polls.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Jimmy St. Louis

Hmmm, Doctors, nurses, teachers, mechanics, etc have to re-certify all the time. I know a mechanic who has to re-certify every time a new model year comes out. So what makes you think the IT industry should be any different. Things change, people are too lazy to keep up. Prove you are up to date. Heck at least you are probably wet behind the ears 20 year old, Im in my 40's and HAVE to prove that Im up to date to get hired over the young people who supposedly have more on the ball but cant pass a simple test.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I am an MCP, and long ago decided that becoming certified will never displace having true higher education. If I am going to spend my money on training/educating myself for better options, I'm going to spend my money on something that isn't so time sensitive and vendor marginalized. My suggestion, is get a degree.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Philip M. Louisville, Ky.

On one hand, I think MS should make distinctions between the versions- but as an MCT, I am seen as a Microsoft evangelist to my students. People ask me what they should take- and I give them the information Microsoft gives me. When they change the requirements after stating what they will be, it has an effect on my credibility and theirs. In my opinion, this encourages braindumps and unethical behavior- those that feel they have been cheated will be much more likely to go against the NDA. That is also the reason that the MCT certification does not have the credibility it once did- because companies are looking outside Microsoft training centers for training- and getting results in terms of certified individuals. Those training centers are geared towards certification- not operating knowledge.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 Andrew Charlotte

This is in response to those complaining about upgrading, and that after taking one set of tests you are an MCSE for life. Getting a cert is NOT like getting a college degree. An MBA in 1960 is still an MBA today, because most of what was there then still applies (or still doesn't depending on your viewpoint :)). Certs in any industry require updating, especially in IT. Frankly, I wish MS had abandoned the NT 4.0 MCSE, or made people distinguish on the cert after your name what version you are. No cert path that has credibility, like the CISSP or CCIE allows you to become one for life! You have to update every 2-3 years at MINIMUM and / or pay membership fees. I hope MS makes the MCSE as hard to get as the CCIE...and for those that say they will go Linux, try taking the RHCE tests...they are MUCH harder. Perhaps raising the bar will get the whiners out of IT and into accounting or ditch-digging where they belong!

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 IT cynic UK

Apologists for new certification requirements cite the fast changing nature of IT. But why does it change so fast ? There are no business reasons for upgrading from NT4 to 2000 never mind upgrading from 2000 to .Net.
There can only be one answer - planned obsolescence and constantly changing cert requirements is of course part of that plan. It's all about Microsoft's profits - whether it benefits IT professionals or their employers is no concern to them providing the money keeps rolling in.

Fri, Jan 24, 2003 IT pro Iceland

Changing course every 6 months can only devalue the MCSE certification, what's needed is a clear policy that you can count on not being changed the next time some marketing jerk comes up with another "brilliant" idea. Whatever that policy is doesn't matter, but the keyword here is CONSISTENCY!!! STOP CHANGING DIRECTIONS EVERY TIME A NEW OS VERSION COMES OUT!!

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Tooma Fresno, CA

I would say that I am pissed like the rest of you...but on the flip-side, it really isn't that much harder to upgrade your MCSE if you are in the industry. I am an MCSE 4.0 and coming to a slow finish on my 2000 certs, but I just looked back at what I have accomplished and realized that it was not really that hard. Think about it. Granted that the switch from NT to 2000 platform WAS different, but what about 2000 to .NET.. Not really that drastic of a change.
Anyway, good luck to you all anyhow.

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 dennis Anonymous

get cisco if you dont have any. Linux stillhas not arrived yet and hopefully novell will DIE

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 cesar E Raffin Long beach CA

I'm still trying hard to upgrade to w2 spending money for nothing....
Shoud I get Novell o Linux instead..?

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 dennis usa

Well I am with Andrew on this one. MS needs to come up with one set path to certification. Start it with your base set of tests. 6 or 7 non-product dependant test over stuff like networking, enterprise theory, storage theory, backup and security theory...etc. Then you take a OS test and get your MCSE. From that day until the end of time or your death ( whichever comes first) You are an MCSE. Then as new OSs come out you take ONE test to remain current. MCSEs should be forbidden by MS from disclosing on a resume which OS they are certified on but be allowed to devulge that info in the interview. That will ensure that HR departments interview more people and hire the best candidate (who may not be certified in the latest OS but has experience and SKILLS and can pick up the new info on the NEW OS at work). Too many resumes get tossed by non-technical HR people ( you know the people that want 5yrs experience with XP when it has not been out that long and desire a candidate that can put a man on the moon or walk on water for 35-40k a yr) who dont see the magical alphabet in front of them or even worse the computer that scans resumes and dumps them if they dont say MCSE .NET or 2000. It is time for MS to give back to the community and protect all of its MCSEs. Every community and organization has some bad apples. Businesses will sort these people out. So I appluad the one test upgrade scheme and hope it is the future! As for me I plan on getting other certs before putting more money into the MS certs and I also plan on being more broad in my computer knowlege and working on building my consulting business. In the meantime, this laid-off IT professional will probably deliver pizza ( so I can at least feed my family)while building said clientel one customer at a time through hard work not by worring about the latest cert to come out of MS. I know that the best IT people (which I may or may not be one of them) have a base skill set that allows them to learn on the fly and on the job. They dont need a cert to validate their skills. I will soon find out if I can cut it.

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Anonymous MN

I'm undecided about the whole thing, but the seperate levels does make more sense, from the standpoint of marketing yourself to employers. Also, it sounds like the upgrade path is much shorter than NT4 to Win2k, as long as the one or two more exams aren't like the 70-240 fiasco. But, then again, the mid-stride course change is a bad idea, for the same reasons that the comment in the article that opposed the Microsoft decision said.

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Ryan UK

Hey, Jamie says it all, if you don't like it, then get out of it and stop moaning ! Nobody is forcing you into staying in the IT industry, or to update your skills etc, it's YOUR choice what you do. 99% of companies are out there to make money, not just to make your lifes easier, wake up will you !

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Andrew Smith-Jones Idaho

Jamie from Newark, get your head out of your ass dude. Mommy and Daddy have obviously been paying your candy ass way through all your MCSE-BS! Wait till you have a couple of kids and a mortgage and we see how you like paying for all that change then! It's guys like you that screw it up for the rest of us. I know you are probably only twenty or something but didn't mommy ever tell you the reason Bill Gates is in business was to make money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get a life!

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Jamie Newark, DE

IT is a constantly changing field. Things move fast, and it's important for the people who hire you to know what you can do. Think you're a REAL expert with Microsoft products? Great--skip the class, pick up a book for $50, then take the test. Problem solved, you're up to date. It sounds to me like people aren't complaining about Microsoft so much as about the way that the IT industry changes. If that's your gripe, I'd suggest that you find a new line of work.

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Jeff Headley Adelaide

As an MCT at a CTEC I think this new, separate path makes sense and makes things simpler. Microsoft has been saying that potential MCSEs taking their first exam (focussed on the client) could take the Windows 2000 Pro or the Windows XP versions. The course materials for each is vastly different, since with each new generation of Windows Microsoft likes to assume a greater level of prior knowledge before your first MCSE course. The XP exam has been assuming prior knowledge of TCP/IP, group policies and other things that don't arise until later in the Windows 2000 MCSE study path. By acknowledging that this is a separate study path - with higher prerequisites for the entry point - they're giving potential MCSAs/MCSEs far clearer and more accurate advice.

Thu, Jan 23, 2003 Victor Maryland

I look at other professions that contribute more on a personal level and I get upset with this bullcrap. I am glad that Microsoft does not make Human Beings, Cars, the Weather, Houses, Food, or any of the other things we take for granted I am an MCSE NT4.O
I put off Certification and waited for the next big OS from MS, I guess I'll skip this one and wait for the Longhorn and then certify, It does not look like the worl is going to stand still if I do not certify.
The IT industry is like another Enron all hype and hot air, fraud and deciet, it is all about making more money for the software manufacturers, It is not about human beings and families.
I am absolutely disillusioned with the Industry and its selfish materialistic greed.

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