And the Question Was?

Last week, I discussed Lanop's new NT Certified Independent Professional (NT-CIP) certification, which will provide a Windows NT 4.0 certification path after Microsoft's has expired, and I asked for your comments about whether such a certification might be worthwhile. That request generated a lot of feedback at the Windows 2000 Magazine Web site, but only one reader specifically addressed the certification's worthiness. That reader denounced the certification, saying that it would be embarrassing to be associated with it in any way, but neglected to provide any specific reasons for such an extreme view. The rest of the feedback revisited a topic that I thought we had beat to death—the NT 4.0 exam retirements and the requirement that all current MCSEs pass Windows 2000 exams by the end of the year to remain certified.

Understandably, many people still have strong feelings about this topic and want to vent. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what our feelings are. The NT 4.0 exams are expiring; they won't be available after February 28. Any certification that depends on the NT 4.0 exams will expire at the end of the year. All of us—myself included—have to accept these facts. Another fact is that there are only 11 months and 2 weeks left to take the free four-in-one Exam 70-240: Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for MCPs Certified on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, which, if you pass, you can substitute for the Win2K core exams (70-210, 70-215, 70-216, and 70-217). Those four core exams will still be available after the end of this year (as far as we know now), but Exam 70-240 won't be.

But let's return to the original question: What do you think about an alternative certification? Why might you consider an alternative certification an embarrassment? What might cause you to take notice and at least consider, however briefly, pursing that certification? And a related question: How can an exam guarantee that someone who passes it really knows the subject matter, and hasn't simply memorized questions and answers? Post your thoughts as Reader Comments.

The world keeps turning, and new exams appear all the time, even as others expire. Don't forget to check out Microsoft's own Training and Certification Web site from time to time—it's the only place you can get the actual lists of topics that each exam covers, and it's the only official place to find the release dates for new exams. Although the new exam list is hardly current (all four core Win2K exams are listed as new, even though most of them became available last June), it does contain accurate release dates for exams that really are new. Today, for example, I discovered that Exam 70-228: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition will be available on January 25, and that Microsoft released the long-awaited Exam 70-222: Migrating from Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 to Microsoft Windows 2000 on January 16, just a few days ago. You can also find out about all the exams that are in development. So, even if you decide to put off studying for those Win2K exams, there's still plenty to keep you busy.

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