With Microsoft breaking up, here are a few guesses where the certification group will end up.

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With Microsoft breaking up, here are a few guesses where the certification group will end up.

I was wondering if you’ve considered the impact of [the government’s proposed split of Microsoft into two companies] on the MCP program. If the OS group is split into a separate company from Applications [as the government proposes], where does that leave the vast majority of the MCSE electives?
—Des Embrey, Department of Defense, Australia

Although it may be years before the court case is settled, a breakup into two companies is certainly a possibility. So I’m going to make some off-the-cuff predictions just to get you thinking.

In a big restructuring last December, Microsoft was divided into four key product areas: a platforms group (Windows NT, 2000, and CE), a developer group (Visual Studio and SQL Server), a business productivity group (Office and BackOffice), and a consumer group. Certification has been part of the Enterprise Customer Unit, which handles service and support across Microsoft’s strategic product areas.

It’s hard to say where the certification group might land in the event of a breakup, but I predict it would be with the platforms (or in Justice Department-speak, “OS”) group. Integration of the certification group into platforms would be good news for several reasons. The certification team develops exams around Microsoft’s OSs and other products in order to create highly qualified technical support personnel and product evangelists around the world. As long as I’ve been observing the cert group, it has worked at developing better relationships with the product groups. Integrating with the people who focus on platform development may remove some walls.

I also think the platforms group is where much of Microsoft’s energy and attention will go in the next several years, regardless of the court case. The applications market is saturated in general and no longer a big growth area. But Windows 2000 is at the center of all of Microsoft’s crucial initiatives—driving product into more mission-critical levels of the enterprise and across the Internet, evolving many new and specialized server products, and surfacing in other markets like consumer devices. Platforms is the place to be.

If you specialize in Exchange and want a premium title, you take a handful of core exams on the operating system, then one elective on Exchange. The same is true for DBAs. You can now take three SQL electives, but you still need a heady dose of OS knowledge, when your true specialty is administering or developing databases.

So here’s another prediction. In the event of a breakup, I think we’d see a split of the certification program too. Most of you will be Microsoft Certified Platform Engineers and some of you Application Engineers. You’ll work within separate certification programs and focus on your areas of expertise more closely.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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