Clearing critical confusion about the MCSE on Windows NT 4.0

Ed Tittel answers the question: Can you still finish your MCSE on Windows NT 4.0?

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One of the most frequent questions about what is now known as the MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 credential comes from individuals who were partway through with its requirements on March 1, 2001. That's the date when the core exams and other key tests for that credential were retired -- or "discontinued" using Microsoft's newly-adopted language. To my way of thinking, discontinued indicates an exam that may no longer be available...

but remains valid for one or more certifications and retired means an exam is neither valid for some certification nor available.

But vocabulary aside, the question at hand for MCSE candidates may be most simply stated as: "Can I still finish my MCSE on Windows NT 4.0?" Interestingly, this question is addressed explicitly on the Microsoft Web site in a useful FAQ entitled "Frequently Asked Questions About the Change in Certification Policy." Here's exactly what this document says on the subject:

Q.I passed the MCSE on Windows NT 4.0 core exams before February 28, 2001. However, I haven't passed my elective exams yet. May I still earn the MCSE on Windows NT 4.0 certification?

A. If you passed all MCSE on Windows NT 4.0 required exams while they were still available, you may still continue to earn your MCSE on Windows NT 4.0 using exams that are currently being offered.

The good news about this pronouncement is that if you took all the core exams necessary to meet MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 on or before February 28, 2001, you can still finish up by taking valid electives to meet current requirements for this certification. (You can find the latest version of this information here.) Notice further that there is no explicit time-out period or cut-off date on this opportunity, either. The catch is that you will only be able to take electives whose exam numbers still show up as active hyperlinks on that page. But there are over 20 exams available that meet these criteria and most of them also apply if or when you decide to upgrade to an MCSE on Microsoft Windows 2000.

If you qualify, you need to take two more exams to finish up. Take them quickly, and you'll get an initial MCSE sooner than you might have thought possible.

One more thing: If you also lack the desktop core exam, the Windows 98 exam (70-098) is still available to let you complete your MCSE as well. Please note that the Microsoft wording on the FAQ question states that all core exams be completed before 2/28/2001; it doesn't address those individuals who passed 70-058 Networking Essentials, and 70-067 and 70-068 (Server and Server in the Enterprise, respectively) but didn't get a desktop exam under their belts in time. I called the MCP hotline and learned from the representative with whom I spoke that those who lack the desktop requirement, but have taken the other three core exams, can indeed finish the MCSE on Windows NT 4.0 by taking 70-098 (plus any additional elective exams that may also be required).

Good luck to those who are close but not yet finished with the MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. I'm pleased to be able to resolve this matter once and for all!

Ed Tittel is a principal at a small content development company based in Austin, Texas, and the creator of the Exam Cram series, and has worked on over 30 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell and Sun related topics.


This was first published in November 2001

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