No doubt many of you are reeling from the news that you must jump into the world of Windows 2000 (Win2K) if you want to maintain your MCSE certification—news that Microsoft handed down in its new Win2K certification track (http://www.microsoft.com/mcp/certstep/mcse.htm#w2k). Because many of you may be new to the world of Microsoft certification, a brief history lesson might help to explain why we were caught flatfooted by this recent announcement.

Let me start by saying that the new Win2K track contains no real surprises for MCSEs satisfying certification requirements with Windows NT 3.5x exams. Over a year ago, Microsoft warned us that that NT 3.5x MCSEs would lose their certification if they didn't "pass a replacement exam within one year of the retirement date. Replacement exams include MCSE core exams from either the Windows NT 4.0 track or the Windows NT 5.0 track (Windows NT 5.0 exams are in development)"(http://www.pctech2000.com/ retired.htm).

A month ago, I had a canned answer for students wondering when they would have to recertify if their MCSE certifications were based on NT 4.0 exams. When asked, I would say, "If Microsoft follows its existing pattern, you won't have to recertify until about a year after the company releases exams for the network OS that will replace Windows 2000." How wrong I was. History, for Microsoft, doesn't repeat itself.

I pride myself in my ability to understand complex matters, including the development of college programs that lead to degrees. As a college professor, this understanding is especially important. I have studied the new Win2K track, and I can tell you that it's not easy to digest or understand. In essence, Microsoft is providing two primary tracks. The first track is for those who have already passed the exams 70-73: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0, 70-67: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, and 90-68: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 in the Enterprise. The other track is for candidates who haven't passed these exams.

The good news (if you can call it that) for those who have taken the three NT 4.0 exams is that Microsoft is offering you the privilege of taking one exam that covers the information contained in the four core exams for Win2K MCSE certification. You must exercise this privilege sometime between the date Microsoft releases this all-in-one exam and December 31, 2001. Microsoft makes no mention of the cost of this all-in-one exam, but if its cost is the same as for the other individual exams, there's obvious benefit in going this route. If it costs more, you might want to take the four exams separately so you can concentrate on specific areas.

Another core requirement is that you take an additional exam from a choice of three (this requirement and the electives requirements apply to both certification tracks). The three choices are exam 70-219: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure, 70-220: Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network, and 70-221: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure.

As with the NT 4.0 track, those seeking Win2K MCSE certification must take two elective exams. The current list of Win2K elective exams includes the three exams I mentioned earlier (70-219, 70-220, and 70-221) plus Upgrading from Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 to Microsoft Windows 2000 (70-222). Additionally, the list of elective exams includes "any MCSE electives current (not scheduled for retirement) when the Windows 2000 exams listed above are released in their live versions."

The exams that apparently won’t qualify as electives because of retirement include:

  • 70-73: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0
  • 70-67: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
  • 90-68: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 in the Enterprise
  • 70-58: Networking Essentials
  • 70-21: Microsoft SQL Server 4.2 Database Implementation
  • 70-22: Microsoft SQL Server 4.2 Database Administration for Microsoft Windows NT
  • 70-42: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • 70-43: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • 70-53: Internetworking Microsoft TCP/IP on Microsoft Windows NT (3.5-3.51)
  • 70-77: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Information Server 3.0 and Microsoft Index Server 1.1

Exams that might not qualify because they're not included as "electives" in the Window NT 4.0 MCSE track include:

  • 70-64: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows 95
  • 70-98: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows 98

Those that apparently still qualify but are suspect in my opinion because they're "MCSE electives current (not scheduled for retirement) when the Windows 2000 exams listed above are released in their live versions" include:

  • Internetworking Microsoft TCP/IP on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 (70-59)
  • 70-59: Implementing a Database Design on Microsoft SQL Server 6
  • 70-26: System Administration of Microsoft SQL Server 6.5
  • 70-18: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.2
  • 70-13: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft SNA Server 3.0
  • 70-78: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 1.0
  • 70-76: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5

With all this in mind, there are a couple of critical dates you must remember. For NT 3.5x MCSEs, your death is scheduled for June 30, 2001. For NT 4.0 MCSEs, it looks you have a stay of execution until December 31, 2001.