I have written about this anecdotally in the past, but due to the volume of mail I get about this subject, I wanted to provide WinInfo Daily UPDATE readers with an update about Microsoft's certification program and how Whistler, the next version of Windows 2000, will affect it. Many of you will recall that Microsoft recently extended the deadline for the Windows NT 4.0 certification exams to the end of February, after first announcing that the NT 4.0 exams would not be offered any more after December 31, 2000. The company did this to give potential Microsoft Certified System Engineers (MCSE) candidates a better chance to get their NT 4.0-based certifications complete, as many testing centers were fully booked through the end of last year. But Microsoft is indeed retiring the NT 4.0 exams because of the rapid adoption of Windows 2000, causing many MCSEs and potential MCSEs to wonder what will happen when Whistler is released. Will the Windows 2000 certification become obsolete as well?

Fortunately, the news is good. When the Whistler MCSE exams appear later this year, they will be fully interchangeable with the Windows 2000 exams. To the Microsoft training department, Whistler and Windows 2000 are in the same product family, and thus the exams are identical, as far as their credentials are concerned. If you begin training for Windows 2000, and wish to substitute Whistler exams for some of your qualifications, you may do so. So even though Microsoft is likely to retire the Windows 2000 certification at some point, MCSEs who focus on Windows 2000 will not see their certifications expire because of the release of Whistler. And they won't need to be retested when Whistler is released.

Microsoft is expected to release the desktop versions of Whistler in third quarter 2001, with Server versions coming by the end of the year.