I read your article regarding braindump sites with interest. I recently completed my own MCSE certification following 14 months of self-study and preparation. I used both Self-Test software and Transcender tests in my preparation. I did NOT visit braindump sites. My observation is, however, that both Self-Test and Transcender contain SEVERAL questions in exactly the format I saw on the real test.

I have to conclude then, by casual observation, that Microsoft's opposition to the dump sites is not that they have the exact questions, but that Microsoft is not getting a kickback from the dump sites the way they do from the test sales companies. I would be curious to hear your comments on this.

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Actually, according to documents filed with the court, Microsoft's real beef is that the ENTIRE question banks that were for sale through the convicted person's company matched Microsoft current questions verbatim. Occasionally, you will see questions from other test prep vendors that are close to the real thing (but I bet if you compared them, you would find at least slight differences).

Microsoft doesn't actually earn any money from sales of Self-Test or Transcender products, so if they did increase their level of "copying" I can imagine they would find themselves in court pretty soon thereafter. I really do think it's more a matter of outright theft and/or violation of NDA (the original questions were videotaped in testing centers overseas, then transcribed and reproduced as precisely as those videos would allow) rather than the degree of similarity.


This was first published in March 2003

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