MCSE track changes are getting tougher. But are the changes happening too quickly?

You Said It

MCSE track changes are getting tougher. But are the changes happening too quickly?

Sometimes readers surprise me. When I wrote in my November column that the tough new Windows 2000 track for MCSEs represented a great opportunity more than anything else—and perhaps simply what MCSEs have been asking for all along—I expected some angry mail about Microsoft’s decisions. Instead, readers replied in droves that they think Microsoft is doing the right thing in raising the standard for the MCSE. For example, one reader in the process of obtaining his MCSE wrote, “I agree, the exams should be harder. [And] there should be a minimum requirement for experience, not a recommendation.”

“It’s about time that Microsoft decided to make the MCSE certification truly valuable,” commented another MCSE. “Microsoft is doing exactly what it needs to do to protect NT [and] to protect their strongest and most successful marketers—MCSEs. Way to go Microsoft. Make the certifications really worth something!”

Almost all of those statements, however, were followed by heated comments regarding the retirement date Microsoft has set for the NT 4.0 exams (the end of 2000, giving current MCSEs until the end of 2001 to recertify on Windows 2000).

The fact that Windows 2000 isn’t available yet and won’t be for another three to six months from the time of this writing raised plenty of concern about obtaining the proper experience on the new product. “First of all, W2K hasn’t even been released yet,” wrote an IT professional in Redmond who supports a small IT shop and asked to remain unnamed. “How am I to gain experience on a product that isn’t on the shelf? A forced migration to a product that isn’t even out yet sounds like more slick marketing.”

Plenty of companies will be running both NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 for some time to come, readers pointed out: “By decertifying the 4.0 track in such a rushed manner, Microsoft has ensured that future employers have no meaningful tool to measure if potential technicians have the necessary skills to administer 4.0/Win2K environments. Consider this: If the 4.0 track is decertified, no one will be teaching it. If no one teaches it, new IT personnel will have no resources to acquire the skills other than ‘playing’ with the software… I’m all for raising standards, but let’s do it in a well-planned, calculated manner.”

Or this from another MCSE: “I took six tests in a two-month span, and passed them all—not because of cramming or classes, but because of years of experience in real-world environments with the products. How am I going to get that experience on Win2K? Even if I implemented it as soon as it was commercially available, we would be talking months. And who would be stupid enough to implement a brand- new, untested, and certainly unstable technology immediately upon its release?”

At any rate, now that the ship date for Win2K has apparently slipped into 2000, Microsoft may be forced to reconsider those dates.

In the meantime, your best bet is to keep Microsoft informed of your opinion, since the certification folks have shown that they can be responsive to customer feedback. We’ll run some additional reader comments on the topic in the January issue.

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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