According to sources close to Microsoft, Microsoft will announce today that it has backpedaled on plans to expire NT 4.0-based Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) credentials on December 31. Instead, individuals who have received this certification will be able to keep the designation "MCSEs on Windows NT 4.0" indefinitely, and Microsoft will use the designation on various certificates and other tools. In addition, the company will identify people certified on Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000, and Windows .NET Server as "MCSEs on Microsoft Windows 2000."

Previously, Microsoft planned to retire certifications after 2 years, and had announced that Windows 2000 MCSEs would be automatically certified for XP and vice versa. The company ceased NT 4.0-based exams on February 28, 2001, and planned to expire those certifications on December 31, 2001. Users argued that a certification in certain technology should be good forever, regardless of Microsoft's product-upgrade strategy. By renaming the MCSE designations to be product-specific, Microsoft has, in effect, agreed with this claim.

The announcement, which the company will post to the Microsoft Training and Certification Web site later today, reads in part, "Microsoft is replacing its current decertification policy with a plan to define and concurrently maintain multiple versions of its credentials. This approach will allow the ongoing recognition of credentials for as long as they are relevant in the market, while still providing a means to differentiate individuals who have updated their skills to the latest Microsoft technologies."