About that new MCSE track...
Your Credentials, Please...
About that new MCSE track...
Have you gone over Microsoft’s specs for the Windows
2000 MCSE certification? Auntie has, and she’s not a happy
little camper. To be honest, I was so upset, my beloved
Fabio insisted I go in for an extra-lengthy round of stone
massage therapy. He thought it would be calming; but I
say that pinning me down and roughing up my muscles is
nothing compared to the steamrolling we’re all about to
get from Microsoft.
It’s not so much the new round of exams. Win2K is such
a major rewrite that we all assumed there was some tough
studying ahead. And Redmond is including an upgrade path
for those of us who are NT 4.0 MCSEs, which makes the
task ahead a little less painful.
No, this girl’s blood pressure’s topping the charts because
the NT 4.0 MCSE track will be retired at the end of next
year. You’ll have a year after that to get recertified.
That’s right; upgrade your cert before Uncle Bill sends
the MCP SWAT Team around to tear those MCSE patches off
your IT combat fatigues. What’s wrong with this picture?
Well, first of all, the nature of migrating to Win2K
(did I mention that Microsoft really doesn’t like Windows
2000 referred to as Win2K?) is such that many enterprises
will still have significant NT system populations at the
end of 2001. Second, this policy is inconsistent with
Microsoft’s past practices; the NT 3.51 track has been
valid for more than three years after the release of NT
4.0. Don’t tell Auntie there aren’t still a goodly number
of 3.51 boxes chugging away out there. Think of it from
the perspective of an IT Manager or CIO, the folks who
pay all those license fees: In two years, Microsoft says,
NT will no longer be worth maintaining a live certification
Get real. Just planning a Win2K migration is a
months-long process. Consolidating your NT domain structure
takes time, too. Testing your homegrown applications is
another complex piece of the puzzle—and how many of you
will be doing that for keeps before you have the release
version of Win2K? And, just how many of you won’t start
until Service Pack 1 is out?
This brings us back to a point this ex-supermodel feels
compelled to make now and then: The entire MCP program
reeks of being nothing more than a marketing expense to
Microsoft. If Steve and the Serfs thought they could sell
more product without a certification program, they’d do
so without batting an eyelash. I suspect the program began
as a means for Microsoft to establish legitimacy for NT
à la Novell’s CNE/CNA programs; to reassure corporate
IT decision-makers that Microsoft was setting high standards
for competency—at a time when Microsoft was driving full-bore
to gain marketshare for Windows NT.
They still practice this technique—or haven’t you noticed
The Great SQL Server Inundation of 1999? Furthermore,
Gates has said he’s “betting the company on Windows 2000,”
pet code for “If you stand in our way, we’ll crush you.”
Those millions of NT systems are shortly to be considered
candidates for upgrades, and if it takes pulling the rug
out from under tens of thousands of IT professionals,
not to mention their employers, to sell those licenses,
hey, we’re just doing business, right? Sorry if you have
to rush through planning and implementing that complex
enterprise architecture with all those different namespaces,
but—well, on second thought, we couldn’t care less. It’s
our OS and our rules, and you know you’re going to do
what we want. So do we. We’ll even help you rush
through the job. You wouldn’t want to lose that bundled
rate for Office, now would you? Yes, Product Support will
still handle NT 4.0 issues, but we won’t be doing any
Service Packs past SP6, so if you run across any new NT
bugs, you might as well upgrade to Windows 2000, which
is what we told you to do, but you wouldn’t listen,
would you? Besides, we’re closing out the NT 4.0 certification
track at the end of 2001. We want all our MCSEs working
on Windows 2000, and we don’t care whether you have a
stable NT enterprise. The reason to upgrade is because
we say so, and your business needs aren’t as important
As for Auntie, she never had any intention of waiting
long to recertify. Call me daffy and over-achieving, but
I usually start studying about three months after new
exams go live. By then there are usually a few good reference
works and study guides out on the market, and publications
like this one have useful exam reviews. This bombshell
don’t do beta exams, folks. My certifications are production
credentials, and I don’t deploy betas, either code or
exams, in my production environment.
It’s not the timeframe that’s got my Southern California-blonde
dander up, it’s the arrogance with which the Redmond gang
dictates the marketplace, rather than reflects it.
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.