Microsoft is aware of the overlap in duties among MCSAs and MCSEs, and the company's new certification curriculum has been designed to avoid redundancy and equip students with a training mix that's better suited to the realities of everyday tasks. But timing is everything and, while the new credentials are attractive, many users are hesitant to invest their time and money in a certification or upgrade they may not really need for a while. In this two-part article, our resident certification expert, Ed Tittel, dispels some rumors, offers crackerjack advice and clears up some of the uncertainties surrounding Windows Server 2003 certification.
SearchWin2000.com member: I received my MCSE in May 2002. I was wondering what I would need to pursue in respect to the new Windows Server 2003 exams.
Ed Tittel: To upgrade your MCSE for Windows Server 2003, you'll need to take
- 70-292 MCSA/MCSE upgrade -- covers the same topics as exams 70-290 and 70-291.
- 70-296 MCSE upgrade -- covers same topics as exams 70-293 and 70-294.
These exams will be ready in August 2003, according to information released by Microsoft at the TechMentor conference in early April. My advice would be to wait long enough after exam release for various books, Exam Crams, practice exams and so forth to be released, to give yourself the benefit of as much supporting information as possible.
If you need further information on the exams, visit Microsoft's 'View new and upcoming exams' page and scroll down until you get to the 'Upcoming exams' heading. From there, you can jump straight to information for all the exams I've mentioned here.
SearchWin2000.com member: If I want to take the two-exam upgrade, do I have to complete the MCSE 2000 certification before the Windows Server 2003 exams are released?
Ed Tittel: Yes, you must meet MCSE 2000 requirements for the upgrade exams to elevate your status to MCSE on Windows Server 2003. Otherwise, you'll have no certification to upgrade and will probably end up simply tackling the seven-exam sequence for the MCSE on Windows Server 2003 instead.
SearchWin2000.com member: Should I continue to pursue the Windows 2000 MCSE, or would it be better to work toward the MCSE for Windows Server 2003? I know that I could still use the Win2k Pro client toward this, but I am worried that the Win2k MCSE track will be obsolete soon or will expire. Should I be concerned about this right now, or will the 2000 track be around for a while?
Ed Tittel: You know, I just wrote a whole tip on this very subject called Certify now on Windows 2000 or wait for Windows 2003? The short answer to your question is: If you want to get certified before the end of 2003, go Windows 2000. If you can wait until mid-2004, you can go either way. Let the platform in use on your job or at the companies where you'd like to work guide your choice. Windows 2000 stuff won't be 'obsolete' for at least another 30 months, if history is any guide. Also, Microsoft has defined some decent upgrade options this time around, and you'd only need to take two conventional exams to upgrade your MCSE from Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003. If I were in your shoes, I'd go Windows 2000 now and take the upgrade exams later in 2004.
SearchWin2000.com member: I am familiar with Windows 2000 and have started the study process for an MCSE on Windows 2000. I have not started the exam process yet. Should I just drop the 2000 track and jump on the 2003 track? Do you think Microsoft will continue to support Windows 2000 for quite some time, or will they do what they did with NT 4 and stop support soon to push the Windows 2003 platform?
Ed Tittel: The MCSA exams won't be ready until August 2003; the MCSE exams won't be ready until September/October 2003. Thus, the earliest holders of MCSA and MCSE credentials for 2003 won't get their certs until late in 2003.
As I've watched the last four series of Microsoft certifications come (and some of them go), I've observed that it normally takes two years from the time a new certification becomes available before most people start targeting that program as their primary choice. As far as Windows 2000 and 2003 are concerned, that makes Windows 2000 a safe bet until late 2004/early 2005.SearchWin2000.com member: Has Microsoft set an expiration date for the 2000 MCSE certification? If not, when do you think it will expire this set of tests?
Ed Tittel: Microsoft's policy is not to expire certifications, but rather to remove them from currency. That explains why NT 4.0 MCSEs are still allowed to call themselves MCSEs, even though the exams were discontinued in February 2001. I imagine that within 12 months of release of the full set of Windows 2003 exams (or around October 2004), Microsoft will require its partners to upgrade their certifications to retain their partner status.
For companies not compelled to track exams so closely, my guess is that the big push into Windows 2003 certification won't really start until 2005, or about the same number of years after the release of Windows 2003 as between the release of Windows 2000 and the summer of 2002 (which is when sales of Windows 2000 products finally surpassed those for NT).
About the author:
Ed Tittel is a principal at LANWrights Inc., a network-oriented writing, training and consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the Exam Cram series of books and has worked on more than 50 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell and CompTIA, as well as on information security and Sun-related topics. He is a member of the NetWorld+Interop faculty, where he specializes in Windows-related courses on security and performance topics. Tittel is also a contributing editor to Certification magazine, a columnist for CramSession.com, a writer for numerous TechTarget Web sites and series editor for Que Certification's Exam Cram and Training Guide books.