Will Windows XP SP2 change Windows Server 2003 exams?

Microsoft this week just completed a second beta test of the 70-291 Windows 2003 Core Networking Infrastructure exam, despite having released the original exam last August. Apparently, enough new material is being introduced as a consequence of the pending release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 that this exam is going through another revision.

It's an unusual step. Existing exams rarely go through a second beta like this -- unless there are significant numbers of new questions introduced. When that happens, Microsoft generally performs a statistical analysis on the responses before approving a final slate of questions. Typically, the company introduces 6-10 new questions per exam per month, so this beta indicates that a fair amount of topical changes are in the works.

Only those who already hold MCP or other Microsoft certifications get invited to take the company's beta exams. And since this beta period ended July 27, those who haven't participated can be sure that they won't get to see the new version of the exam until it goes into public release. If history is any guide, that should occur some time between mid-September and mid-October.

Bottom line: Those who don't plan to jump on Windows XP SP2 in a big way in the next 6-8 weeks might want to schedule 70-291 as soon as possible so they can take the current version of this exam before the new material is introduced for all takers to see (and answer). Candidates who plan to sit the exam after mid-October should plan

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on spending some time with Windows XP SP2, learning all about its many new features -- especially in the area of security.

This beta also suggests a couple of other possible scenarios related to XP SP2:

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