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NT 4.0 Retirement Reversal Popular with MCSEs

Once an MCSE on Windows NT 4.0, always an MCSE on Windows NT 4.0.

So says Microsoft now, doing an 11th-hour about-face on one of the most unpopular decisions in the company’s history.

Robert Stewart, Microsoft’s general manager for training and certification, told MCP Magazine that decertification on Jan. 1 of next year for MCSEs who haven’t recertified on Windows 2000 is a thing of the past. Your credential “absolutely will not expire ever,” Stewart said. “Your NT 4.0 (certification) will appear in your transcripts forever.”

Many in the MCSE community were furious when Microsoft first announced the decertification, and Redmond eventually heard their cries. “We made the decision after talking to a lot of customers and partners and decided that decertifying the credential is probably not the best idea,” Stewart said.

“People who are MCSEs on NT 4.0 today, those skills and that job function doesn’t go away on Jan. 1,” Stewart added.

Anne Marie McSweeney, Microsoft’s director of certification skills and assessment, said the decision wasn’t made overnight. “We’ve been mulling it over for quite a long time. It was an evolution of thought.”

McSweeney echoed Stewart’s comments that MCSE input played a major role in the choice to retain the older title. “Absolutely. Those people are very critical to the success of Microsoft. They help customers realize the benefit of Microsoft products. We’re committed to our audience. We said we shouldn’t be calling the shots; let the market decide it.”

Those who hold the MCSE+I, MCP+I and MCP+Site Building credentials will retain those as well.

It also means that those who have been working feverishly to upgrade their certification before the end of the year can breathe a little easier. However, the 70-240 Accelerated Exam, eligible to NT 4.0 MCSEs and others who have completed the NT 4.0 core, is still only available until Dec. 31, holding to the original schedule.

McSweeney emphasized that she hopes the new system won’t deter people from still going for their MCSE under Win2K. As of Oct. 10, there were 47,000 Win2K MCSEs, and more than 150,000 individuals who’ve passed at least one Win2K exam. Win2K MCSEs, she pointed out, referring to figures from MCP Magazine’s annual salary survey, published in August, “clearly indicate that people who hold that credential make significantly more than NT 4.0 MCSEs, so the market is making a distinction” between the older and newer titles, she said.

“Great news. We run an NT 4.0 network and have no plans to upgrade for at least the next two years,” said Robert King, a certified professional in Scotland in a comment posted to MCPmag.com. “Thank you, Microsoft. Common sense prevails.”

As pleased as many NT 4.0 MCSEs are about not losing their status, others are angered at the last-minute changeup by Microsoft.

“Retirement of the NT 4.0 paper MCSEs was the only thing that was going to make the effort I put into my 2000 MCSE worth it,” said Chris from Texas in another online post. “Now I stand here with letters on my resume that mean even less than they did yesterday. I assure you that when I’m hiring people, I will overlook NT 4.0 MCSEs in favor of Win2K MCSEs because it shows effort, desire, and the ability to learn quickly.”

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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