Inspired or hallucinatory as my own recent predictions have been, a recently published interview with Dan Truax, director of Microsoft certification business and product strategy has set the record straight on Windows .NET Server 2003 certification -- at least for now. Upon reading Truax's "predictions," I now believe the first Windows .NET Server exams will probably not be released before June 2003. Truax said:
- MCSA exams for Windows.NET Server will release in between June and August 2002; betas will go out in spring, between March and May.
- MCSE exams for Windows .NET Server will release next fall, some time between September and November. Presumably, betas will precede that release in the June to August time frame.
I built my own set of predictions around the release date for Windows .NET Server and the assumption that exams would come shortly after that release. Consequently, I anticipated MCSA exams by at least three months and MCSE exams by six months. Live and learn, I guess. But I don't mind being wrong when Microsoft is forthcoming with the information that once and future MCPs need.
In addition to Truax's speculation on possible exam dates was his statement that Microsoft will be abandoning its "mix-and-match" strategy for Windows 2000 and Windows .NET Server 2003 -- that is, the freedom for MCSAs and MCSEs to take either flavor of exam to meet specific program requirements.
Going forward, he says MCSAs and MCSEs will certify on Windows 2000 or .NET Server in clearly distinct tracks with clearly distinct credentials. Truax claims that this development results from conversations with current MCSAs and MCSEs, the majority of whom want clear differentiation between credentials for Windows 2000 versus .NET Server. That's both commonsensical and practical when you stop to think about it.
Even better, Microsoft indicates it will provide upgrade exams for MCSAs and MCSEs on Microsoft Windows 2000 to upgrade to equivalent .NET Server credentials. One upgrade exam is likely for MCSAs. MCSEs will have to take either one or two upgrade exams, to be determined some time soon, I hope. These exams will be regular-length exams (and will probably not be free), unlike the extra-long, extra-challenging 70-240 core exam upgrade made available to MCSEs on NT 4.0 at no charge. Test centers, certification candidates, and employers will probably all find this change in approach valuable and refreshing.
Of course, there will still be many more details to muster and master before the full outlines of the new .NET Server credentials are fully understood. Please stay tuned, and I'll share what I can learn on the names, numbers, and line-up of these upcoming credentials, as more information becomes available.
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the series editor of the Que Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and security certifications.