Editor's Desk

Chill, People

Is Microsoft making the right decisions with its cert program in regards to .NET? Well, consider how other companies change their exams to address a significant technology shift.

Obviously, the Microsoft Certified Professional community cares about the fact that mix-and-match is gone and discrete tracks for Windows 2000 and .NET are here. If it had been a movie, your responses to the news on our Web site would have ranked an R rating for explicit language.

The pronouncement was the first out of the new regime running the training and certification group in Redmond. Lutz Ziob, who now manages the division, comes from CompTIA, where he ran the certification programs. He certainly had an easier time there. After all, the A+ certification is still the same basic credential it was when first introduced in 1993.

At Microsoft Ziob faces the bigger challenge of maintaining the value of the Microsoft credential at the same time he urges Microsoft's partners—in this case, people who hold a Microsoft title—to move into the new technologies. After all, that's what partners do—support a company's efforts and in return drive their own successes.

Was this first set of announcements a blunder?

Microsoft has to address the technologies it's developing; it makes more money getting new stuff out the door than supporting the old stuff. That said, if you're an MCSE on NT 4.0 or Win2K, guess what? You don't lose. You're still an MCSE. If you're wondering what to do on your resume, leave it at "MCSE," don't reference the particular platform you're expert at. If you're still in the process of becoming an MCSE on Win2K, guess what? You don't lose either. That OS has a long and healthy future on servers for years to come. But no matter how Microsoft structures it, that doesn't make you an instant expert on .NET too.

Yes, if you work for a solution provider that has to maintain a particular number of certified professionals at a certain ranking, your boss will put pressure on you; but if you had any wits about your work, you knew about that requirement going in. One of the wonderful things about this country is that nobody holds a gun to anybody's head to force a particular learning track. If you don't like cutting edge or you're burned on exams, find yourself a job where it doesn't matter.

I don't have much space here to address the complaints registered about this news; but I will speak up about one aspect of your arguments: Those of you who believe Cisco Systems has it all figured out with its CCIE program, which never gets versioned, consider this: You must either retake the written exam or take a recertification exam every two years. If you fail to do so, you're placed on inactive status. Eventually, you're kicked from the program and have to start from scratch. This isn't unique to Cisco. ISC(2) has similar requirements: maintenance fees every year and continuing education credits or retaking of the exam every three years.

Perhaps Microsoft is headed that direction, and this is simply the first step. I think it's a good idea. I'll post your responses in a future issue. Yell at me at [email protected].

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.


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