And Now a Miracle Occurs

Microsoft deserves all the credit for thinking of customers.

First, Michael Jordan comes out of retirement. Then so does the NT 4.0 MCSE. Both events were quickly followed by lots of analysis and commentary, yet nobody disputed that Jordan made up his own mind. In the case of Microsoft, a number of individuals outside the company have taken credit. Give me a break.

All of you who spoke, wrote, polled, chatted, and e-mailed against the original decision announced two years ago should take a bow. I thought you were making truly quixotic noises.

But, really, the credit for this one belongs to the people running the training and certification group. They’re the folks, I suspect, who finally persuaded other influential members of Microsoft that it couldn’t shove IT professionals into pushing Windows 2000 into their enterprises simply by taking away their certifications. Sometimes battles like that take a long time. As outsiders we don’t always see the details—the small machinations that signal an internal win here or there. Ever had to tow the corporate line, even when you knew it was absurd?

Most of you are happy about the announcement. We’ve seen hundreds of comments posted to that express how relieved you are (to read them, click here and here). The pressure’s off. The systems engineers at one well-known company felt like they’d won the lottery. A staffer explained to me that their bonuses were predicated on the requirement that they maintain their current level of certification. Add a checkmark next to that goal. Stories like this abound.

Others of you are peeved. Some of you have busted your chops to get that certification—and for what? To have Microsoft grant amnesty to the “lazy” among us. Or you’re an MCT whose trade has suffered enough slings and arrows to put you practically out of business. Your only hope was to hang on long enough to see other trainers fall out of the authorized ranks. Then Microsoft threw the “losers” a lifeline, by extending their particular deadlines. Or maybe you feel like you’re being treated unfairly because your deadline to take the Accelerated Exam hasn’t been extended.

As reader Stephen Brow wrote to me, “These have come to be tough times for all of us in one way or another. I think we need to keep things in perspective. With the economy the way it is right now, Microsoft needs us and we need them.” That friend speaks my mind.

Before I sign off in my last column of the year, I’d like to take this chance to thank Michael Chacon for his six years of contributions to these pages. Since the very earliest days of the magazine, he has provided us with insights on server technologies through his column, “Windows Insider.” Now Michael’s latest work takes him in new directions. And so, starting next month, we’ll be introducing a new columnist—Bill Boswell—to take his place. However, if you have ever benefited from one of Michael’s clear and concise explanations of networking, you can thank him yourself at [email protected].

While you’re sending e-mail, tell me what you think about Microsoft’s latest maneuvers at [email protected].

About the Author

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

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