The Pricing Problem

Your faithful correspondent contemplates exam economics.

It’s summer as you’re reading this, and you’re either sweltering in the heat or being thankful for your air conditioning. But, thanks to the realities of distributing information on dead trees, it’s early March as I write this, and Auntie is reading an icy blast that just crossed her desk. No, Fabio didn’t forget to put in the storm windows this year. The blast came from Auntie’s computer, where she was just reading your comments about the new Windows Server 2003 MCSE and MCSA tracks at http://mcpmag.com/ news/article.asp?EditorialsID=549. Now that Microsoft has finally stopped making vague promises and announced the requirements for the new certifications, some MCPs seem to be in an uproar.

Some of the knicker-twisting appears to be based on “misreadings” of the new requirements. No, Microsoft isn’t going to decertify Windows 2000 MCSEs. No, you don’t have to take seven new exams (just two upgrade exams) if you already have your Win2K MCSE. No, you don’t have to start all over again with the MCSE 2003 track if you’re nearly done with the previous track.

But, yes, the exams have increased to $125 each since the Win2K days. This is an across-the-board hike, not something specific to the new exam. There are certainly those among the MCSE population who are upset about the new pricing.

Frankly, Auntie is also aghast at the $125 exams. She thinks they should have been jacked up to at least $300—perhaps even $500—each.

Before you send this month’s nastygram my way, hear me out. There’s one important aspect to my exam-pricing scheme: I want the extra money rolled back into the exam process, not into a jewel-encrusted kennel for Bill’s dog. Let’s think about what Microsoft might be able to do with certification exams if it would just throw a few more dollars into the process.

For starters, it could hire more item writers and, thus, generate decently large question pools, which would be a much better defense against braindumps than aggressive nondisclosure agreements and pass-fail grading. How many people could memorize all the answers if there were 2,000 questions in the pool instead of 200? How much more would you trust the skills of those who actually passed the exam?

Perhaps, too, some of the money could be plowed back into the examination process. Wouldn’t you like to sit at a monitor manufactured after 1997—maybe one with decent color and brightness? I know that my eyes would appreciate the change. And while we’re at it, let’s upgrade to exam software that runs on a 32-bit operating system. I think nine years after the release of Windows 95 is long enough to wait for that.

Finally, as long as I’m dreaming: Take some of the increased fees and use them to cover the cost of administering and grading actual, hands-on exams. Make MCSE candidates set up an Active Directory forest on a new Windows 2003 Server box. Hand a user-interface specification to a prospective MCSD and watch him or her code it in ASP.NET. Of course, we’ll need to have proctors present and professionals doing the grading.

Such changes could give a welcome shot in the arm to the respectability of the Microsoft certification program. If you’ve been railing about the problems of paper MCSEs and braindumps (and Auntie knows she hears those complaints often enough), isn’t this a chance to put your money where your mouth is? Heck, for a break with the past, let’s call the new credential MCSE+. How much would it be worth to you? For that matter, would you even dare take a shot at it?

Exam pricing is a tricky thing, and Microsoft obviously has an interest in telling the world about hundreds of thousands of certified professionals ready to spring into action to support the Windows platform. At the same time, those of us who are true professionals have an interest in a credential that accurately reflects our skills and worth.

Think about it as you sip your mint juleps and work on your tans. As for me, I have a little trip planned to a special spa in Northern Baja. I prefer sangria to keep me cool.

OK, send those nastygrams to Auntie @mcpmag.com and get the chance to win an MCP Magazine hat. The best comments will be published in a future online column.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Jun 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

The bottom line is $ period. We live in a capitalist society and this is par for the course, so to speak. Consumers always, always get the short end of the stick no matter what!

Sun, Jun 22, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

The higher the price- the greater the incentive to use brain dumps. More money at risk means more willingness to use any means to insure passing. I have to pay for my own exams if I fail- I cannot afford to lose $300 to $500 as you propose. Regardless of how much better you make the tests brain dumps can improve your score- probably just enough to pass. No I haven't used them, but I know a couple of people who have. As others have stated- lack of resources is not keeping Microsoft from improving the tests. Actually, I thought the Win 2000 tests I have taken were quite challenging.

Anyway, there is a limit to what you can achieve with testing. Based on the drivers I encounter on the road even a driving test with a testing officer in the car fails to prevent some very poor drivers from getting "certified" to drive.

This editorial was a real dissapointment. Spending too much time at the beach with Fabio and not enough time thinking about what to write?

Sat, Jun 21, 2003 Alex Brown Anonymous

whats wrong with making the exams £25 per go, and making the questions less cryptic, but more of them, as mentioned earlier.

Yes this might make the "paper" MCSE situation worse, but after having earned the mcse wouldnt you then be more willing to recomend MS products. I certainly wouldnt feel like it was a waisted investment then, since it would only be £175 as opposed to £750 ish, as im looking at having to spend :(, the alternative a RHCE is also about £750, but less employers want this cus their so tied into MS. Im currently MCP

Tue, Jun 17, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Seems like you must have plenty of money...I don't believe raising the price will help testing at all. As far as the braindumps are concerned leave them alone they really don't help when it comes to the rubber meeting the road; if you can't do the job it will catch up to you. Most employers don't hire base on exam passing or titles ony you have to perform.

Tue, Jun 17, 2003 YourBrainDead Virginia

Raising the exam prices will only do one thing - reduce the number of MCSE's thereby increasing the value of a person with a MCSE. But, how do you increase the value of something that is worthless to begin with? Yes, it would make getting an MCSE harder but only because people will have to work longer at their jobs to make more money to pay for the price increase. This writer should be fired. Editors if your reading this: please hire somebody with a brain and an ability to write something useful for the readers of this magazine and web site.

Tue, Jun 17, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Do you also write for the New York Times as well?

This is the last time I ever read anything you write and I am caneling my subscription because there are somethings that should never be published.

Editors take a hint - She doesn't understand and never will.

Fri, Jun 13, 2003 IThinkYouDont California

Article like this is not worth the pixel it is hogging! After charginf %2500 for each course, and the over priced books that they churn out - not to mention the overpriced Operating system that they dish out - bugs and all! This is the last place to lynch us.
If they gave breaks - mabe I wouldn't try extra hard at perusing the dumps - I wouldn't need to - MS-get you head out of your - -rhymes with - what...

Fri, Jun 13, 2003 RUKidding Anonymous

As if Micro$oft needs money to make the exam better! Give me a breal. $125 is already high in this Lay-off laiden economy. Ms. MCP - are you on Microsoft's payroll or just kissing up to old gates

Fri, Jun 13, 2003 SOB Story ATL

If Microsoft wants a better certification program, they can move money from .net or some other worthless program instead of raising the test prices.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Cliff Tucson

First off, I got no problem spending money on good certs, Cisco, CompTIA, but MS? The author of this article is either sucking up to MS so that we can have more ads in the MCP monthly rag, or is he just thinks that having money makes you a better person. I have to take three MS exams a year to maintain my MCT cert. Trust me when I say, If that wasn't the case I would focus on Cisco, Linux, CompTIA just about anything but MS when it comes to certifications. The test are lame and have more to do with marketing then anything else. Now a field cert for the MCSE/MCSA track? How the hell are 500,000 Chinese going to get field certified in china and your right about the tech support for $75.00 a month and a bowl of rice. What else are you going to do with them? What's amazing about the exportation of jobs to China is that there is not one legal copy of any software, MS or otherwise in the entire country of China but hey, let's exploit the masses in China and lay off some more IT techs here in the states. One last question: Why doesn't the IT industry have a union? Why doesn't the Teamsters try to organize IT professionals and field certify the members? Now there's a concept.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Bruce Derflinger So Cal

I think you're totally certifiable. If you keep coming up lunatic ideas like charging $500 for Microsoft test you should straitjacketed and locked up and hopefully soon. That tests right now are overpriced and should be reduced to the Third World half-price levels.

Most of the students I teach are dedicated hard-working and almost broke. They're trying to get training in the basic certifications so they can get into a better job. If they were told all the test were $500 each, most could not afford to start. I'm not sure what you do when you not writing this drivel but obviously can't be working for living in the Tech field. Or if you do, you sure not paying for your own tests.

Even the higher level test and certifications should be reduced in price to encourage workers to expand the areas of knowledge. Which for Microsoft would mean it additional people pushing for more Microsoft products because they now have the knowledge and the certifications.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Ken Kent,WA

Not a good idea. Look at the CISSP exam. It is $450.00 if you register two months in advance or $550.00 if you register two weeks in advance. It is a poorly written test and deals with things way outside of computer security. Look at the PMP (Project Management) test. Another very expensive test. It is not well written either. If the Microsoft tests were more expensive, I do not believe for a moment that any of the positive things outlined in the article would occur. When the tests went from $100 to $125, they were not more well writted, but just more expensive. Great column, but I just disagree with the point of view.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 wjr777 Sacramento

Please give Auntie an enema so she can get this stuff out of her system.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Rasing the price will not solve the problem, if one exist.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I feel in many respects you do get what you pay for, but hiking up prices and giving people no feed back as to where they went wrong, will only encourage brain dumps. I do not see what Microsoft hope to gain by not giving you a breakdown of your score based on area tested e.g. – Deployment 75% Debugging – 68% … At least then even in the result of failure, the money spent on the exam would assist by identifying your weak areas.
If I'm going to plunk down 125 buck of my own money, i want real, usable feedback as to how I performed on the test. If there are sections I did poorly on, I want to know so I can improve my skills.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Jesse St. Louis

Having been unemployed since October 2001 I have a difficulty with the idea of raising prices on exams! When person is paying for them out of his pocket expense matters.

I agree with the comments on proctors, I have my favorite correct ways to implement a network design, but you may have an equally correct but different solution. Which is correct? Which is better? Faster to implement?

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Idiots Anonymous

I dont know why I even read this rag anymore. I stopped my MCSE upgrade after the server test even though it only leaves me 3 left. $125 a pop is way to much for this market which was saturated by false promises. MS has yet to adapt to the new economy and better yet help us out a bit in this time. They should be giving more to us, not biting the hand that has feed them for so long. How many of us pitched NT over Novell, even though you needed 3 servers to do what one novell server did? Maybe the problem isnt MS, its us. They have proved time and again that every chance they get they will stick it to us. How many times do we have to get kicked in the face before we duck?

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Richard Brown Birmingham, Al

I do agree with you that it will atleast slow down the paper certs, but the problem with it is that many of us that are certified with many years expierence aren't getting paid enough to pay that kind of money for a test. Employers aren't willing to pay for well qualified technicians now and if we had to pay more for an exam that would even increase what we would want to be paid.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 tripwire45 Anonymous

I think you have to strike a balance between charging the amount necessary to provide a quality test and gouging the public. You don't need an infinite amount of money...or even an outrageously large sum of money to provide a quality exam. If you price the thing too high, most candidates won't be able to afford to take the tests (in today's economy, few companies are paying for this sort of thing for their employees) and there'll be a backlash in the form of people choosing to not be MS certified.

If there's a price increase involved, hopefully some of the funds will be spent to improve the external consistancy of the exams with the available training material. I've heard endless complaints that the tests will score an answer as wrong...even when it was right. No more tricks, Bill. Cisco, for example, gives a very challenging set of exams without misleading questions.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Krusher PA

Why not make the test free? (Gasp! - did he really say that?) What's the big deal about brain dumps and paper certs anyway? IF you get hired based on a paper cert only, (that company should seriously look at their hiring practices!) when it comes time for you to do the job and you can't - you'll lose your wonderful new job!
So why should I pay more money to take a test to prove to a prospective employer that I know what I'm doing? Hire me on a temp basis for one month - if I don't perform, then I don't get the position permanently.
Certifications can always be faked, but the TRUE test is in the performance of the job!

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Jaime PR

A price increase maybe would make the braindump problem worst. Heck! at 500 bucks you’ll need to be 99.99% sure to pass it . Definitely an increase on question’s pools by at least a factor of 3 combined with better security procedures will do, and that just do not cost that much. Let Microsoft take the check on that one!.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 jrichker Orlando, Fl

Raising the cost of exams to $300-$500 will do nothing except make it inaccessible for some hard working and intelligent people. Minorities would be the victims of this kind of gouging, making the MCSE title a rich man's club. I grew up during the 50's & 60's and watched the civil rights movement fight against some of the same injustices you are proposing by increasing the testing fees beyond the reach of all but the most well financed.

Just in case you think I am some wild eyed minority member, you would be wrong. I am a 57 year old male WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). I do believe in equal opportunity for who are equally well qualified, and this idea is a slap in the face to that ideal.

At the $300-$500 price range, employers would have a greater reluctance to pay for exams and training. In the day when all businesses are trying to reduce expenses, MCSE exams in this price range would be a target for exclusion.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 HarperS Atl

If ever, one, wish to start a ruckus, sir you have. In my OPINION, the raising of testing pricing is going to; 1. Drive others to alternative software certifications and 2. Eliminate those who are doing this on their own on a limited budget. When thinking about ruling all, all must be included.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Tell Microsoft to quit screwing people. Sooner or later, we'll stop coming back. $500 per exam would be the end for me. I simply could not afford it.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Terri Houston

Microsoft makes enough money, they could implement all the nice things brought up in this article without raising the exam prices!

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 VJ Iowa

I feel that there are more people having to struggle these days and if you raise the price as much as you want to then you will only have people who are working without certifications. As soon as I got my certification they were ready to retire it. I say give people a chance to afford the exam. You make enough on your other products. Maybe a $25.00 price increase but over 100% increase. Come on.. we are not millionaires.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Bryan WI

I'm sorry, but your desire to have better exams developed by Microsoft is NOT going to be helped by increasing test fees. You honestly don't believe they bring in enough money already from fees and certs to further develop the tests if they wanted to?? Please !! $300-500 per test ?? This reminds me of a well-meaning, but naive liberal who would like to throw more money at a problem, and then trust the government to solve it. The means is already there, only the policies need to be changed.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Yeah right!!!

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Tim Dalton New Jersey

Let's see... Bill takes all the money now and doesn't upgrade the exams, process, etc., so we should give him MORE!? Not me, buddy! If this is such a good idea, let's see Microsoft put up the cash, right out of the profits and dividends!

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Yes this is a good idea for People like the author who already have their certification. Be fair here since they took it under the old system. Make them start completely over also not just the new people.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I think the ideas in the article are good. I do not see what the cost of the exam, or even throwing money at it. These ideas could be done with any and all Certifications. It is very American to think if you throw more stuff at the garden it will have to grow something great.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Eric Bethesda

I did not realize that the Certification was a business unit. That IS most curious. I thought that the certification process was for the benifit of the MS image and those supporting that infrastructure. MS should do all those things suggested in the article for the good of the certification process. Was the cost of the test not just supposed to be a token? I would love to see hands on testing, perhaps I might pay more for hands on.

Thu, Jun 12, 2003 Dave UK

One thing that the article doesn't seem to take into account is the people that are paying for Microsoft courses and exams themselves. If your company sponsors you to do the courses/exams then it's not really a problem, or if you're given a training budget by your company, then it just means you can't do as many courses each year. Some of us are doing these courses and exams in order to try and gain better employment, raising the exam price to $500 would mean that this would be an impossible amount to pay. I live in the UK and undertook the VB course and exam last year. I was lucky enough to be able to do the 5 day course for £900, the exam was £115, which means that including books and Transcender practice CD's, it cost me £1100 just for 1 exam!!
Microsoft is a company renowned for being more interested in profit than anything else, so I find the idea of the price hike in order to employ more item writers extremely naive.
One more point, if the exams now cost $125, which at the current exchange rate of £1=$1.60, how come the exams in the UK cost £115 last year, and will no doubt cost more this year. $125 works out at just under £80, the £115 I paid last year works out to almost $200.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Are you awake yet? Or still dreaming.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 john kansas city mo.

its all marketing and money for someone else but me... i'm sick of hearing about paper mcse's and no experience too. i have borrowed $10,000 to go to school for the mcse and microsoft is the only one who is benefitting from it because they pocket the cash. nobody is hiring unless you have 5-10 years of experience... and those who have that much experience may or may not have a certification but they are making fat cash and don't need to look for a job. nobody will give a green mcse the time of day and that is bullshit... i am sick of it... and this magazines answer to the problem is "get multiple certifications and make your chances for jobs and more earnings better..." once again the more money you spend on our crap the happier we are and we could care less if you can find a job... just pay more money for more crap so we can have more stuff.... bla, bla, bla..."

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Raising the prices on already worthless certifications is like pissing up a rope. Lets face it, if we already don't have jobs that require the training, then we're not going to get technology jobs. I see the greater exam prices as greater encouragement to leave the tech industry. As well, I see it as a way for Microsoft to milk more money out of companies who haven't upgraded their software. I'm going to wait 10 years to see what company is going to replace Microsoft, as they can't come up with any new innovative ideas any more, and then take that new companies courses and exams.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Fire the MORON. Raise prices? Rich get richer, poor get poorer. Get a clue. MS already has BILLIONS. Raising exam prices makes the poor guy trying to switch jobs even more impossible. Then the babies working at corporations continue to get sported while the little guy gets crushed. Ern C Pea? Should the tests be solid. Yes. I have my MCSE, CNE and CCIE and realize the power in certs. But charging more doesn't discriminate correctly. Education and certification should stay affordable. Wake up man. While you sit in the comfort of a 1st world country able to make that type of money, 80% of the rest of the world works weeks or months for a mere $100 or $200. Sometimes western mentality is so myopic.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 disappointed in M$ louisville ky

As if M$ really needs to raise the costs of testing! I am a 7 month student who is still working on their mcse. Wasn't $14,000 enough to spend on school, buy 7 transcenders and pay for only (1) M$ test per course? All that time and $$, just so I can "get my foot in the door"!
M$ brought on their own testing problems to begin with, (mostly because it cost too damn much now)!! Let them spend some of that 'easy money' and fix the testing process at their own cost and let the little guy still keep enough money to get to work with. I suppose it should be no surprise that someone, who I'm sure got paid by M$, to encourage and write a positive article for raising the costs even further. How about putting the same thought and effort in writing what a bad idea it is too raise the costs of testing (more braindumps etc.) and just fix the testing procedures. I sincerely hope that the writers of Linux products don't ever become so $$ greedy.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Chicago

Pricing is not the issue. Microsoft should have made the exams task related or adaptive and blocked going back to previously answered questions. Raising the price will not reduce the number of MSCE's. If Microsoft truely wants to limit the number of MSCE's perhaps they should do as Cisco does and force exam practicals to be taken as the CCIE program does.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Percy Peru

You are definitely crazy, if you think MS needs money to improve the exams,they make a lot just do the math, what it needs is to be more creative. Its ridiculous.
THIS COLUMN IS USING US AS A MARKETING TOOL!!!!!
PLEASE BE MORE CAREFUL IN CHOSING YOUR WRITERS!!!!

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Markymarc Anonymous

Raising the price for written exams is not the answer. Having a practical exam might something to try and it would be understandable to see that price higher than the written. There are some practice exams that are almost word for word. Until Microsoft puts a halt to those practice exams, I cannot take these exams that seriously anymore.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Mike Amherst, NY

What the heck is this columnist talking about? Raising prices helps the program? So, I suppose if Ford was to charge 99K for a Ford Escort the car would be better?---I don't think so. I believe that the reverse would happen. Because it would cost so much to test or re-test, those taking the test would be more likely to try and would find ways to make sure the test were passed the first time. Microsoft just needs to improve the question pool and DON'T SELL THE QUESTIONS! This includes their "authorized" training partners. Most of those training centers teach the test not the product. The lab is a good idea oly if you were given a set of requirements that had to be met when the systems or the network was completed.--NO JUDGEMENT CALL ALLOWED either it meets the require or it doesn't. This might even be a good way for Microsoft to learn a thing or two. The greatest and the worst thing about technology is that there are many many ways to do the same task. This is why all networks are not cookie cutters of one another. One other thing, if the cost of the exams were only around $25 dollars, this allow IT folks to have more money to spend on upgrading thier home learning labs and equipment.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 vladcris toronto

Single merit for this article: to stirr up comments.
Now why should ms want to make profit from certification exam?! Because they want $ from every single fucking department (or direction call it how you want). Shouln't they invest in this sector (call it learning, invest in future, etc.)?! Shouln't they make the price for exam just a buck for exam?! (Do you know that famous a buck a day for your computer, no?!). Wouldn't this resolve the problem of those living in second and third world area (where $125 could what you make in a month or in a year)?!
For sure they should do this for only $1 each exam, but this is the real world where we have to pay for becoming ms people.
I still think we can make a difference. By telling the truth about this to everybody, by promoting different things like linux, etc. (by the way i'm not linux adict, but i think i'll try it).
best regards for all of you who work hard int this it menace!

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Mike Cincinnati, OH

The author is just an MCP implying that they have only taken one certification exam so I'm not sure how they could be an authority on this topic. However, they do raise good points about preserving and improving the credibility of the certification.

Raising prices won't do it. Hands on labs with human proctors will...

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Bilal GA

Guys, I don't know why are you all so upset. This fee ($125 per exam) had been there with all windows 2000 mcse. If Microsoft decides to keep the price @ same level for windows 2003, what's the big deal?
I had been unemployed and yet was able to raise kids and find enough money to pay for my windows 2000 mcsa and mcse exams, it wasn't everyday thing. Had to work on one course for a month or so and then allocate $4 or $5 a day for the exam.
I agree with the idea that dumps dont hurt the cert. Let's face it, if you have worked hard enough on the subject matter and been through the concepts then nobody can knock you down easily and hence you will pass. MCSA and MCSE had been great blessings to me and my family. I got a lot more reputation to our more then 80 thousand clients and got $10,000 raise on the job and now company wants me to train the clients and employees and i'm doing lots of projects within the company and outside. I know windows 2003 mcse will bring a lot of luck and blessings as well. Just work hard and try to achieve the goal, and goal will be yours...

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

VIVA LINUX!

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Man is this getting lame or what? If I see another pompous glory hound sound off about I got "real world" experience and your just a paper MCSE nah! nah! nah! I think I blow my lunch on my certs! Grow up little children! How many of you think you'll be keeping your jobs when I show your employers full online tech support for $75.00 per month over an OC-92 line to China to 500K "paper MCSE'S"! I'll be rich and you'll be asking me if I want fries? (When are you people going to pull your heads out of you know where and get a brain wave on how the world funtions?) As my good friend Bill would say! mo' money! $$$$.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Sounds like somebody's keeping the Bo$$ happy with articles like this. Only they can't talk with their mouth so full. Oh and how much is M$ planning to spend training half a billion Chinese. (Thanks for the financing suckers!)
love Bill, XO$XO$XO$$$.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 chuck new jersey

let's see 7 times $125 that's $875 total.that's way to much for The MCSE certification. It should be free since it isn't worth anything. I would hire someone who has real world expereance over MCSE any day of the week. People wake up.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Raise the testing prices? Are you insane? I was unemployed for eight months and I had to pay for my own tests with borrowed money. Higher prices are meaningless if your employer pays for it so the only people that would be hurt are the people who have to foot their own bills. Why not raise college tuition to a $100,000 a year so kids will appreciate their college years more? Microsoft has $40 billion in cash reserves right now so they have more than enough money to do whatever they want. They don't need more money from people that work for a living. How about the writer get out of her ivory tower and get a real job for once in her life? Some of us have to work for a living!

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Marcelo Brazil

For a brazilian candidate the PRICES ARE REALLY HIGH. If we add the costs of preparation (courseware, time...) they are prohibitive.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Yes, exactly. A good idea, but like so many other good ideas on making the certification process better, it will most likely go unheard.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

It sucks yes lets give bill more money like he needs more we need the money so why don't they have it cheapper in that case there would be people who can pay and get a job and then bill gets he's money because we are out there doing the job's and buying software and lic. thats were they make money>?

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 david clark Anonymous

Bull***T ! If Microsoft wants to add creditability to the process, they should encourage or even mandate corporate sponsorship. You giota job in the industry? Fine-then you can take the test. Everybody's got to pay thier dues, bubba, and in this business, you never finish paying them.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous IL, USA

At least the Microsoft MCSE create a lot of hopes.
How hard the test were no meaning. School and college product a lot of test mechine.
Questions about the hand on. Most the stuff I did on site were not in the test. and the test and real world a total different. Have you been MS shows, their spoker person can't answer most of our questions.
It is not free just look at the exam.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Utter Bollocks

The worst editorial yet - what a load of rubbish, get a real job.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Raising exam pricing in this slow economy. Not a good idea. I always go to www.getcertified4less.com for my discount on exams. Do not tell that you are making certification out of reach from common man.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Oh dear Anonymous

AUTHOR IS CLUELESS.

IT industry is hurting, jobs are few and far between. But somehow, perhaps by taking a trip to Mr. McDuck's money bin, I am supposed to be able to afford tests that are $300... or more?!?!?

Please fire the author, let 'em search for a job for six months, and then ask if $300-$500 PER test sounds like a good idea.

I have a job, but there are many out there struggling in this economy and this yahoo wants to raise the Microsoft tax.

Quit writing articles and go back to filing TPS reports... it's all you are qualified for.

Nastygram asked for, and delivered.

Wed, Jun 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Must agree with another post. Microsoft has money to improve if they want. They can make it harder if they want. Heck they could make it so almost no one passes. The question comes down to what is their real goal. I'd like to hear some honest opinions on this.

Fri, Jun 6, 2003 lucky one KS US

By the way, I think you know this already but just in case, it's not the braindumps that hurt M$ cert program it's actually the lack of security and integrity of its exams. Testking.com, as an example, sells study guides that are exact copies of the real exams. Nobody can braindump the whole exact word for word. uhhmmm!

Fri, Jun 6, 2003 lucky one KC US

This article really sucks, Auntie is an elitistic. M$ have enough money to improve its cert program and they want to make it affordable to everyone so they can get mo' money.
Think about it, we (the MCSE's and MCSA's) are M$ evangelists, it sales force; and what we get from M$?? A trancsript that you have to print out with your own printer paper. A web site (MCP site) full of marketting propaganda and no wallet card like in the NT days.

Mon, Jun 2, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Man, I can barely afford the $125 now. That just sucks. Hmmm, eat food and not take a test or take a test and starve for a week???

Mon, Jun 2, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

This coloumnist has yet to write a single sentence that was actually worth reading. What a complete and utter waste of time and effort...

Fri, May 30, 2003 MIchael Anonymous

I would appreciate if I got some feedback out of my exam...If I pass, I would want to know where my weaknesses are...If I fail, the reason for that is even more compelling....MS shows they do NOT want to assist you in your learning path!

Thu, May 29, 2003 John Lewis Portland, OR USA

I have a problem with the new pricing, given that we're still burdened with the "pass/fail" grading structure. If I'm going to plunk down 125 buck of my own money, i want real, usable feedback as to how I performed on the test. If there are sections I did poorly on, I want to know so I can improve my skills.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Fairness of proctors is a BIG question? It makes beaurocratic way of doing things for certifications. It's not good for MS, where the new OS versions are being released with 2yrs span.
It's better to increase the questions pool.
But spending too many hours in training than actual work is bad for business growth. Any how, the companies does not make judgements on a mere certification. The companies always look for business value.

Tue, May 27, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Great idea! Microsoft only made how many BILLIONS last year, but they don't have enough money to improve the tests so they should obviously charge us more to take the tests. Ya right. MS can improve the test any time they want, they just don't want too. How about better training software and books, or better yet, cheaper training materials. Braindumps don't make or break the MCSE program.

Tue, May 27, 2003 KB-MCT Anonymous

I am a CCIE also and the exam is tricky, i actually hate it, I did the lab setup and troubleshot their scenarios and then they take it long after you are gone, put it in a rack and grade it which they tell you in advance is opinion based (to an extent). If you disagree with the results they will put it back in the rack an another CCIE will look at it and make a decision, so its not a hard pass/fail whcih I prefer

It is possible for 2 candidates to take the exam and do exactly the same scenarios with the same configurations and one pass and the other fail.

Tue, May 27, 2003 KB-MCT Anonymous

Good or bad it ain't going to happen, microsoft makes alot of money off these exams and if they made it hands on less people would take it and they would make less money and we all know that is the point of the process from their vantage point

Tue, May 27, 2003 Craig Roberts Lindstrom, MN

Yep, those exams are pricey. Yet I sit down to an exam only after I've spent 40 to 80 hours studying for that specific exam, on top of my normal learning activities. With any dollar value assigned to my own time, the exam isn't really very expensive.

Tue, May 27, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Expanding the question list is definitely needed, but I don't want subjective judging by proctors. Fairness would definitely become an issue with proctors.

Tue, May 27, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

You get what you pay for...

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