Interview

Specialists have more reason to chase Microsoft Vista certifications

SearchWinIT.com staff

SearchWinIT.com: Is there motivation today for Windows administrators to become certified in Vista?
Yes, there is some motivation, but it primarily comes from three somewhat specialized or narrow groups:

  1. Those who develop for and thus must work with Vista, who basically lead the way to new software and hardware that many of us will someday use with Vista.
  2. Those who train or support Vista users, who usually start down the road earlier than most so they can be ready to handle questions and solve problems by the time the vast bulk of the market starts migrating.
  3. Early adopters who, either by choice or out of insatiable curiosity, decide to jump into Vista as soon as it becomes available.

Otherwise, there really is no immediate motivation at present. I've read many pundits who claim that people really won't consider the upgrade until it's time to buy new hardware because Vista makes so many more demands on desktop machines than does XP. Which Vista certification exams are currently available?
They're just starting to show up on the Microsoft training and certification/learning pages. So far, you've got:

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  • 70-620: TS: Configuring Windows Vista Client
  • 70-621: Upgrading MCDST to Windows Vista and Office 12 -- Enterprise
  • 70-622: Pro: Microsoft Desktop Support -- Enterprise
  • 70-624: TS: Deploying and Maintaining Vista Client and Office System 2007 Desktops

People can stay up to date on this by checking Web pages on certification exams by number or certifications by title from the Exam Guides page on Microsoft's Web site. Microsoft recently made some revisions to three Vista certification exams. How does this affect those preparing for Vista certification?
Not much, because none of those exams has been out long enough for much supporting infrastructure to have developed just yet. [All of them came out in December 2006 or January 2007.] People should study whatever materials and information they can find, and they should be OK. Post-release adjustments usually are more for [Microsoft] quality control rather than content control anyway. How does the Windows Vista certification track affect those going for MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certs?
That track won't really be in full flower until late 2007 or early 2008 after Longhorn Server makes its debut and the attendant exams are released. Until then, MCSA/MCSE on 2003/XP are really the only choices, but after that it will be time for current MCSA/MCSE holders to start thinking about moving up to TS [technical specialist] and IT Professional level certs.

By 2009, the old guard will be waning, and the new crop will be taking over the world. I'd advise someone who is working on a certification now to keep going and plan on upgrading about 12 to 18 months after Longhorn goes commercial. That will keep you close enough to the leading edge and make you as employable as certified Microsoft professionals get nowadays Why did Microsoft decide to expire the MCSE certifications? Is MCSE useless to have at this point?
Microsoft does not expire certifications per se. They just become passé when the versions to which they're tied fall out of use. [There is a good discussion regarding what happens to current certifications on Microsoft's Certification FAQ page.]

Thus, the MCSE is by no means useless and will retain usefulness as long as employers continue to use Windows 2000 and XP and Server 2003 -- which will probably be quite a bit through 2010 through 2011. Basically, those with MCSE shouldn't worry. They should be OK. Which certifications are in the highest demand? Do you expect to see any changes in this over the course of the year?
The best way to get answers to this is to check the highly desirable certs that CertCities publishes every December/January and to check their annual salary surveys, along with those at Certification magazine. Microsoft certs are neither at the top of this heap nor are they too close to the bottom. This stuff changes every year as economic conditions and industry boom or bust cycles bring some things up and take other ones down. So yes, I expect this to keep changing as it always has in the years ahead, just as it's done in previous years.

Ed Tittel is a long-time follower of the IT certification market, who usually keeps at least one eye on what Microsoft is doing. Among other things, Ed created (and edited) the Exam Cram cert prep book series from 1997 through 2005; he's also a contributing editor for Certification Magazine.


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