About that new MCSE track...

Your Credentials, Please...

About that new MCSE track...

Have you gone over Microsoft’s specs for the Windows 2000 MCSE certification? Auntie has, and she’s not a happy little camper. To be honest, I was so upset, my beloved Fabio insisted I go in for an extra-lengthy round of stone massage therapy. He thought it would be calming; but I say that pinning me down and roughing up my muscles is nothing compared to the steamrolling we’re all about to get from Microsoft.

It’s not so much the new round of exams. Win2K is such a major rewrite that we all assumed there was some tough studying ahead. And Redmond is including an upgrade path for those of us who are NT 4.0 MCSEs, which makes the task ahead a little less painful.

No, this girl’s blood pressure’s topping the charts because the NT 4.0 MCSE track will be retired at the end of next year. You’ll have a year after that to get recertified. That’s right; upgrade your cert before Uncle Bill sends the MCP SWAT Team around to tear those MCSE patches off your IT combat fatigues. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, first of all, the nature of migrating to Win2K (did I mention that Microsoft really doesn’t like Windows 2000 referred to as Win2K?) is such that many enterprises will still have significant NT system populations at the end of 2001. Second, this policy is inconsistent with Microsoft’s past practices; the NT 3.51 track has been valid for more than three years after the release of NT 4.0. Don’t tell Auntie there aren’t still a goodly number of 3.51 boxes chugging away out there. Think of it from the perspective of an IT Manager or CIO, the folks who pay all those license fees: In two years, Microsoft says, NT will no longer be worth maintaining a live certification for.

Get real. Just planning a Win2K migration is a months-long process. Consolidating your NT domain structure takes time, too. Testing your homegrown applications is another complex piece of the puzzle—and how many of you will be doing that for keeps before you have the release version of Win2K? And, just how many of you won’t start until Service Pack 1 is out?

This brings us back to a point this ex-supermodel feels compelled to make now and then: The entire MCP program reeks of being nothing more than a marketing expense to Microsoft. If Steve and the Serfs thought they could sell more product without a certification program, they’d do so without batting an eyelash. I suspect the program began as a means for Microsoft to establish legitimacy for NT à la Novell’s CNE/CNA programs; to reassure corporate IT decision-makers that Microsoft was setting high standards for competency—at a time when Microsoft was driving full-bore to gain marketshare for Windows NT.

They still practice this technique—or haven’t you noticed The Great SQL Server Inundation of 1999? Furthermore, Gates has said he’s “betting the company on Windows 2000,” pet code for “If you stand in our way, we’ll crush you.” Those millions of NT systems are shortly to be considered candidates for upgrades, and if it takes pulling the rug out from under tens of thousands of IT professionals, not to mention their employers, to sell those licenses, hey, we’re just doing business, right? Sorry if you have to rush through planning and implementing that complex enterprise architecture with all those different namespaces, but—well, on second thought, we couldn’t care less. It’s our OS and our rules, and you know you’re going to do what we want. So do we. We’ll even help you rush through the job. You wouldn’t want to lose that bundled rate for Office, now would you? Yes, Product Support will still handle NT 4.0 issues, but we won’t be doing any Service Packs past SP6, so if you run across any new NT bugs, you might as well upgrade to Windows 2000, which is what we told you to do, but you wouldn’t listen, would you? Besides, we’re closing out the NT 4.0 certification track at the end of 2001. We want all our MCSEs working on Windows 2000, and we don’t care whether you have a stable NT enterprise. The reason to upgrade is because we say so, and your business needs aren’t as important as ours.

As for Auntie, she never had any intention of waiting long to recertify. Call me daffy and over-achieving, but I usually start studying about three months after new exams go live. By then there are usually a few good reference works and study guides out on the market, and publications like this one have useful exam reviews. This bombshell don’t do beta exams, folks. My certifications are production credentials, and I don’t deploy betas, either code or exams, in my production environment.

It’s not the timeframe that’s got my Southern California-blonde dander up, it’s the arrogance with which the Redmond gang dictates the marketplace, rather than reflects it.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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