A question of benefits.
Benefiting Us All
A question of benefits.
- By Linda Briggs
When we posted a survey on our Web site in August 1998
to ask you what sorts of benefits you'd like to receive
as a Microsoft Certified Professional, over 1,000 people
responded during the few weeks the survey was up. Clearly,
it's an issue of some interest to MCPs.
As promised in my September 1998 column, we're reporting
back to you with the results of our admittedly completely
unscientific survey. (Click
here to read the comments.) We're also sending the
results on to Microsoft. In the survey, we asked voters
to choose their top five preferred benefits from a list
of 15 choices. Our list included items that are benefits
now for some titles (TechNet or MSDN, for example, is
still a benefit of becoming an MCSE or an MCSD, but not
an MCP); or that used to be a benefit of certification
(such as 10 free tech support calls). We also threw in
a few items that readers have suggested, such as a discount
on Microsoft Press materials.
Your top five choices, in order, were as follows: 1)
a free subscription to TechNet; 2) a free subscription
to MCP Magazine (thanks for that vote; this was
on our Web site, after all); 3) access to beta software;
4) an upgraded MCP certificate receive upon completing
a certification; and 5) a discount on Microsoft conferences.
Other top contenders: a discount on Microsoft Press materials
and a better private Web site for MCPs.
Surprisingly low on the list (10th out of the 15 choices)
was the free tech support call package, which was eliminated
as a benefit of certification based on a survey Microsoft
itself conducted last year.
Many readers complained about the private MCP Web site
that Microsoft introduced last year as a benefit (www.mcirosoft.com/mcp).
"The private Web site for MCPs is a joke," said
MCSE Nick Warner bluntly. "I return to it from time
to time hoping that something useful will be added."
Vernon Southmayd, an MCSE, pointed out that "the
lack of tech support incidents could have been made up
by actual material in the MCP/MCSE Web site and a continued
subscription to TechNet. Unfortunately, there is little
to no value in the current MCP site."
Plenty of respondents pointed out that MCPs are front-line
sales people for Microsoft products, after all. As such,
they need access to tools like TechNet, MCSD, and priority
support. "I was disappointed to find out after passing
my first MCP exam that the free TechNet [subscription]
was no longer being offered," commented MCP Shirley
Dow. "Instead I have to settle for a three-month
old 'trial version' that times out after 30 days. Bring
Amazingly, we also received many comments about the quality
of the certificate that MCPs receive ("cheesy,"
to quote one reader). We agree with you on this one. There's
got to be an inexpensive, quick way for Microsoft to resolve
this common complaint.
A number of readers called us to task for including the
certificate on the list at all. "The pin, membership
card, Web site, logos and certificate should be default
benefits. You aren't really suggesting that a 50-cent
certificate is a benefit that can be compared to a $1,500+
[priority support call] package, are you?" commented
J.R. Fillmore, an MCP+Internet. "I really don't think
of the certificate and logos as benefits so much as identification
and authentication that you are certified," commented
Chris Prysock, an MCP.
Helen O'Boyle, an MCSE+I and self-described "one-woman
shop," made this point about benefits: "One
of the difficulties in selecting appropriate benefits
is that not all individuals holding a given title are
in the same circumstances. For example, someone who works
for a Solution Provider has little need for the beta-evaluation
subscription [Solution Providers already receive that
An interesting comment from a few readers asked for additional
marketing efforts. "The greatest benefit that Microsoft
could bestow is to relentlessly promote the certification
program to its customers. "In addition to pushing
the Microsoft partner program, they should put the same
amount of money into placing ads in the big trade papers
and journals." said John Willard, MCSE.
Others commented on the irony of denying MCPs a free
subscription to a tool that is extremely helpful in preparing
for the MCSE. "I was looking forward to receiving
TechNet after I passed the Workstation exam. I heard it
was a valuable resource and a good study tool to help
me toward MCSE status. Now I see that I won't get it until
I'm an MCSE," wrote a disappointed Paul Creager,
currently an MCP. "As an MCP certified in Windows
NT Server, Enterprise, and Workstation, I have as much
need to access the TechNet CD as an MCSE," MCP Beverly
Henson pointed out. "It would be a very helpful tool
Based on your votes, Microsoft could move quickly to
enhance current benefits simply by spending a bit more
on the certificate and by enhancing the MCP-only Web site
considerably. More of your comments are shown at the end
of this column.
Those of you who took the time to complete the survey
summed up this issue better than I can. "Microsoft
should realize what a great selling tool I have become
for them," commented MCSE Brian Bootsman in voting
for more benefits. And, finally, here's my favorite comment,
from an MCP named Frank Dimina. "The greatest benefit
Microsoft can give to MCPs is to protect the value of
More on Benefits...
Just my two cents...
Given the amount of technical proficiency that MCPs
provide for Microsoft clients, the benefits from Microsoft
upon certification are dismal at best.
Rob Parrott, MCSE
Microsoft took too many benefits out of their program.
They need to listen to the MCPs who fix their products
on a daily basis.
Gary Stoutenburg, MCSE
Benefits should be added, not taken away.
Stephen Neidinger, MCP
Access to MCP logos is actually free advertising for
Microsoft, and shouldnt be considered a "benefit."
David Trestor, MCP
Id hardly consider a certificate, access to a logo,
or access to a Web site that has no content a benefit.
Name Withheld by Request
Anything that helps us make Microsoft look good is a
useful benefit: [My] certificate is still in its envelope.
Garrett Fitzgerald, MCP
Let's remember that the "dumbed down" MCP program
is no longer a certification program for computer professionals,
but one for end users. Therefore, Microsoft is entirely
correct in scaling down benefits to match what the program
now is: a marketing gimmick.
Gene Simpson, MCSE + I
All Microsoft professionals should deserve more than
just the five benefits [listed in your survey]. Im
an MCSE, and I suggest a lot of Microsoft solutions to
my client (a Fortune 50 company) and, thus, I bring Microsoft
hundreds of thousands in profit.
M. Lee, MCSE
The current benefits package is a joke.
Lauren Daly, MCSE
Hey! Dont mess with the bennies
Microsoft is doing a great job of keeping people like
me informed about the latest developments.
Paddy Verberne, MCP
I have no problems with the current benefits. Theyre
adequate and should stay with just the addition of the
single TechNet CD.
Dave Pedler, MCP
All of these benefits are trivial compared to the career
enhancement certification provides. No one says "Hey,
I'd like Technet, I'll go get MCSE so I can get it for
Craig Frey, MCSE
Microsoft's benefits package rates #1 in certification
benefits packages. Compared to other companies (like Novell)
claiming the same perks, theres no comparison!
Doug Sudar, MCP
It isnt necessary that Microsoft provide more than
it already does. The certification itself benefits the
individuals the most.
Otto Goencz, MCP
I enjoy the respect of others knowing that you have proved
your knowledge in this area.
Douglas Leavitt, MCP
What I don't understand is the way people really expect
to get something for nothing. We are undertaking certification
to advance ourselves and, in the process, advance Microsoft
Bill Hammen, MCP
The best benefit is being recognized as a Microsoft Professional
and the value I can bring to the table. My employer has
acknowledged this through compensation.
Peter Christy, MCSE
In my work and with friends Im treated with respect
more than before, and Im considered eligible for
more responsibility in my job. All this and lots more
I feel only have after becoming an MCSE and MCP+Internet.
Shiekh Bashir Abdul Rahiman, MCSE, MCP+I
About that Microsoft MCP Web site
One of the current benefits for MCPs includes access
to private Web Site resources, but the resources themselves
are quite limited. If this is going to stay as a benefit,
I would love to see the site expanded.
Gleb Evfarestov, MCP
For a corporation as big and as into the Internet as
Microsoft, the MCP secure Web site is a pretty weak offering.
Bruce Kirkpatrick, MCSE
Im an MCP with one exam left for MCSE. The private
Web site is a good resource, but is yet to be utilized
by Microsoft. There is no content there.
Howard Moon, MCP
Id like to see Microsoft promote a job search engine/listing
in the MCP secured Web site. Employers might appreciate
the focused audience, and theyd have confidence
that anybody responding to those ads has the credentials
William Thompson, MCSE
I feel that people who have qualified for a premium certification
should be given free invitations to Microsoft technical
conferences. After all, we've earned it. We have proven
our technical competence.
Madhu Menon, MCSE
I think only MCPs, MCSEs, MCSDs, and MCSPs should be
able to attend TechEd. Also, there should be a toll-free
line for employers to verify if a potential employee is
Jason Staker, MCP
Id like to see more MCSE/MCP conferences in areas
not so expensive and time-consuming to get to.
James Crimens, MCP+I
Access to betas
The access to the beta program should be available as
long as we keep the title, not just for one year (as it
is now). Its especially important for MCSDs, since
we develop applications on the latest Microsoft technology.
Yining Zhang, MCSD
Easier access to the beta evaluation program for MCPs.
Les Blunden, MCP
The TechMentor conference said it all: We are the ones
who "push" Microsoft products and we should
have free or discounted support and betas from Microsoft.
Wes Snyder, MCP
Whats with the certificate?
Can't they improve on that cheesy certificate?
Martin Jackson, MCSE
Who cares how many times Bill has to sign his name? If
I work that hard to pass those exams, he should at least
break out the bottle of ink, pull a feather from his hat
and sign it.
Rovan Hill, MCSE
The certificate for premium titleholders is not very
impressive. Considering the extra work involved, it should
Joel Lundi, MCSE
Discounts on Software, Books, Resources
MCPs should receive a free copy of the product they're
certified in (for example, an MCP who passed an NT Server
4.0 exam should be given NT Server 4.0). MCSEs should
get copies of all Microsoft operating systems software,
even if its a not-for-resale version. I know this
is close to the MSDN Library benefits, but it makes sense.
Philip Lembo, MCSE
Id like to see similar discounts on software, such
as is extended to Microsoft Solution Providers. The discounts
to MCPs on Microsoft Press training materials need to
be better than what is offered on the open market by others,
such as Bookpool or Amazon.
Mario Noe, MCSE
Not a free MSN e-mail addressI can get a free Hot-mail
account! How about free MSN access so I can RAS in from
around the country?
Ron Burkett, MCSE
Show me the discount! Training materials and software
can be quite an expense.
Warren Holzem, MCP
Its nice that Microsoft has certain perks for certified
people, but I'd like to see some of the fluff (such as
lapel pins) eliminated and have that money go to more
important items, such as reducing costs on resources that
we rely on.
Dave Gammage, MCP
Even if we dont get loads of benefits as a result
of certification, we should have the opportunity to obtain
some of the itemsmembership cards, extra certificates,
etc.by purchasing them from Microsoft.
David Pellot, MCSE
There should be incentives to pass more exams once one
has achieved one title, say, 50 percent of the fee for
one attempt only
Rao Dandangi, MCSE
Dont forget us
Microsoft should help MCP Magazine to distribute
their magazine around the world, especially Asia.
Danilo Dy, MCP
While people in "developed countries" get their
welcome kits on time, we unfortunate people in countries
such as India have to put up with long waiting periods
before our Welcome kits arrive.
Madhu Menon, MCSE
There are fewer benefits for MCPs outside the U.S. I
hope Microsoft will consider offering the same benefits
for all MCP worldwide.
Robert Hu, MCSE
Keep us better informed
I wasnt aware of all of the benefits. Did I miss
getting a package? How do you get these things?
Sharon Cravotta, MCP
It would help if Microsoft simply provided clearer definition
of certification information. I recently moved and have
yet to get any of my benefits continued here. In addition,
when the MCSE+Internet certificate was announced, we had
questions about specifics.
Kerry Sutton, MCSE+I
Make the exams tougher
The exams should be harder and the benefits greater.
I look forward to the new exam structure and hope this
prevents all but the most qualified from earning the certification.
Michael Vrabel, MCP+I
It would be nice to see Microsoft implement a Master
MCSE and Master MCSD program, where candidates have to
prove themselves, much like the Cisco Certified Internetworking
Name withheld by request
It would be nice if Microsoft offered a few shares of
stock to MCSE or MCP or at least stock at a discounted
Jeff Steadman, MCP
Id like to be able to invest in Microsoft stock
through direct purchases. Allowing us to dollar cost average
stock purchases in the company would be a great benefit
and make us "owners."
Dick Lane, MCP
Tech support calls
When youre in the field, itd be nice to know
that Microsoft backs you. They should think about giving
10 free calls a year. It would help out their MCSEs and
make the support program better.
James Oryszczyn, MCSE
How can Microsoft stand behind their MCSEs and not give
some sort of technical phone support? Microsoft's reputation
is on the line as well.
Ben Brumley, MCSE
Id like private and direct access to Microsoft
staff who can resolve MCPs problems. I havent
received any beta CDs for months, and my e-mails to their
support address go unanswered
. MCSDs should be offered
development and support tools (e.g. MSDN Universal) at
a grossly discounted rate. After all, we indirectly promote
and sell Microsofts products.
Mark Worrall, MCSD
The 10 free priority tech support calls was the most
valuable benefit of all.
Scott Burch, MCSE
The 10 free priority technical support calls were invaluable
to me as a new MCSE.
Tom Smith, MCSE
Its important that Microsoft consider us their
eyes and ears in the field. We should be made to feel
like a team member. Dont take Tech support away
from your MCPs and MCSEs (this includes TechNet and calls).
Ed Stachyra, MCP + I
Microsoft has taken away some key materials needed for
new engineers to survive in the fast-paced world of computers.
When I started my program, I called Microsoft to get a
list of benefits, and now the best benefitthe 10
free tech support callsis gone.
Jonathan Quint, MCSE
Realistically, MCSEs are Microsoft's main sales people
on the front lines. MCSEs should never have to pay anything
for TechNet as long as [our] certifications are kept current.
Brad Halsey, MCSE
While I understand that costs need to be controlled,
I was disappointed when Microsoft discontinued the one
year free TechNet subscription for MCPs. Much of the material
we have to study in order to achieve MCSE status can be
found in TechNet.
James A. Lopresto, MCSE
Maybe Microsoft could offer an additional second year
free TechNet subscription if MCSE holders pass two additional
electives in the next year.
Ryan Tan, MCSE + I
Without sucking up, I think the MCP Magazine is
one of the better perks. There is no better place to get
up-to-date information on moving ahead with certification.
TechNet would be a great help in that area also.
J.D. Wire, MCP
What we *really* want is
How about a nice shirt with MCP logo that we can wear
to our customer sites? We certified people definitely
want to show off our MCP status.
Kevin Lee, MCSE + I
Microsoft gives so much now, it's hard to ask for more.
But, the pin would be nice.
Charles Gogolin, MCSE
Some type of wearable would be nice.
Patrick Donlan, MCP
A membership card should be a given. How else can you
easily demonstrate that youre an MCP? Its
too impractical to carry around your certificates.
Royal Stacey, MCP
I suggest acknowledgment [from Microsoft] of receipt
of certifications within 10 business days of receiving
Marsha Maines, MCP
The greatest benefit is the advertising that Microsoft
puts behind the certifications.
James Chason, MCP
[As MCSEs, we should have the] ability to provide serious
input to the development process.
Bert Bruner, MCSE
Microsoft claims that this program doesn't make money,
but surely the intangible benefits in having all these
MCP/MCSEs trained and certified in using Microsoft products
must be substantial. So, why not invest more into the
Greg Neilson, MCSE+I
While most of the benefits listed are important, I think
the greatest "benefit" could be if Microsoft
would take steps to keep the certifications valuable and
Patrick Honny, MCSE
Microsoft needs to do a better job of informing employers
about the benefits of having certified staff.
Chad Smalley, MCSE
Microsoft needs to work more directly with their MCSEs
and MCSDs. Were out there on the front lines everyday
with their biggest customers.
Roger Russell, MCSE
The greatest benefit should be real value of the certifications
in the industry. The certifications are disappointing
in general. As of yet, theyre of minor importance
when finding work. I know the companies (MCP Magazine
and Microsoft) are making good money marketing the certifications;
I only wish a portion of the operating budget was towards
putting real value and meaning into the certifications
to keep them from becoming an embarrassment.
Gerry Hulme, MCSE
One-year subscription to MCP Magazines Resource
Gleb Evfarestov, MCP
A database of MCPs listed by country, region, area, etc,
which can be used as a contact and/ or referral list when
prospective clients require solutions.
Kishore Singh, MCSE + I
Dinner with Bill.
Michael Lane Thomas, MCSE+I