Microsoft’s Strategy for Certification Integrity Microsoft has announced that Exam 070-240: Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for MCPs Certified on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 will go live by July, a newsworthy announcement because

  • You can take the exam just once.
  • It's free.
  • You can substitute the exam for four certification exams.
  • You must complete the exam by December 31, 2001.

The announcement specifies that you must be a qualified candidate, which Microsoft defines as anyone who has passed three Windows NT 4.0 exams:

  • Exam 070-067: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
  • Exam 070-068: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 in the Enterprise
  • Exam 070-073: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0

Unfortunately, Microsoft plans to retire the three NT 4.0 exams on December 31, 2000, which poses a tough question for potential candidates. If you have limited exposure to NT and you want to start MCSE certification training by May 1, 2000, do you follow the NT 4.0 certification path or the Windows 2000 (Win2K) certification path? If you pursue NT 4.0 certification, you need to complete the three NT 4.0 exams and Exam 070-058: Networking Essentials before the end of the year. If you start in May, you could certainly complete these four exams, but what would you gain? One obvious benefit is that you can take exam 070-240. Another not-so-obvious benefit is that your route to MCSE certification will be easier, something that's becoming more and more obvious as I focus my efforts on Win2K certification. My efforts to date have included taking Course 1579: Accelerated Training for Updating Support Skills and Designing a Directory Services Infrastructure for Microsoft Windows 2000 and reviewing the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) for courses 2052, 2053, and 2054.

Don’t believe anyone who says that Win2K isn’t more complex and difficult to master than NT. Simply trying to understand the variety of domain roles that servers can play in a Win2K environment (e.g., schema master, domain naming master, RID master, PDC emulator, infrastructure master, global catalog) is arduous.

The problem with following the NT 4.0 certification path is that you will have to update your certification by December 31, 2001, or lose it. However, this path provides an intermediate step and another year before you have to get Win2K MCSE certified, which are compelling reasons to consider the NT 4.0 certification. And of course, NT 4.0 is likely to remain a viable network operating system (NOS) for years to come. But as spring and summer approach and pass, the NT 4.0 certification path becomes less realistic.

The bottom line is that if you're considering pursuing MCSE certification over the next few months, you'll have some interesting decisions to make. Unfortunately, those who wait to start their MCSE certification studies will have fewer options, and the result is that we'll see a group of Win2K-certified MCSEs that lack both the experience and knowledge to operate in an NT environment.

Win2K MOC Courseware Available for MCT Review
Microsoft has added to the many benefits that MCTs enjoy. MCTs can now review selected prerelease beta versions of the MOC. Microsoft released beta versions of courseware for the following Win2K courses:

  • Course 2152: Supporting Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server
  • Course 2153: Supporting a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  • Course 2154: Implementing and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services

You can access the courses by clicking Courseware Files at the secure MCT Web site. The courses are in the Windows 2000 folder.

Microsoft’s rationale for granting MCTs this new opportunity appears to be two-fold. First, it gives the courseware authors early feedback from qualified people, resulting in fewer technical and typographical errors in the MOC. Second, it gives trainers a head start in their efforts to learn a new product before teaching it. Let's hope that Microsoft continues to offer this new benefit—it will result in a more enjoyable experience for students.