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.NET Server certification math

A recent announcement indicates that most can plan to take the .NET exams in late 2003.

When will Windows .NET Server certification exams be released? Microsoft put some shape to the speculation in a CertCities interview during CompTIA's recent Strategies 2002 conference in Chicago.

In the interview, a Microsoft Strategic Certifications Programs official told CertCities that Windows .NET Server follow-on exams for the MCSE and MCSA would probably not be released until some time in the spring of 2003. The list of exams involved will definitely include the following:

  • Exam 70-275: Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft .NET Server (successor to current Windows MCSE/MCSA core exam, 70-215)
  • Exam 70-276: Implementing and Administering a Microsoft .NET Server Network Infrastructure (successor to current Windows MCSE core/MCSA elective exam 70-216)
  • Exam 70-277: Implementing and Administering a Microsoft .NET Server Directory Services Infrastructure (successor to current Windows MCSE core exam 70-217)
  • Exam 70-278: Managing a Microsoft Windows .NET Server Network environment (successor to current Windows MCSA core exam, MCSE elective exam 70-218)

My guess is that we'll also see updates to the core design MCSE exams around this time as well, though perhaps not as soon as the above. These include design exams on Directory Services Infrastructure (70-219, which may map to 70-279), Security (70-220, which may map to 70-280) and Network Infrastructure (70-221, which may map to 70-281). Given the importance of new .NET components and services, it's not unreasonable to expect new exams on those topics as well.

But the most interesting point to emerge in the CertCities story was about the importance of "real-world experience" to .NET Server. Microsoft said it was not going to release the .NET Server exams within the typical 45 days as was the case with Windows XP Professional. (The XP exam actually released two days before the official final release date for the companion product.) Instead, the delay will be two months or more.

Given recent estimates of Windows.NET Server release late into the fourth quarter of 2002, this puts related exam releases into the first quarter of 2003. My best guess is that February 2003 is as early we're likely to see the .NET server exams. And it's entirely possible they will not appear until March or April, depending on the exact release date for Windows .NET Server itself.

If .NET Server is not released by December 16, we probably won't see it until after the holidays, though we should have a good idea what the future holds by Christmas. Historically, the date for the code version released to OEMs 30 days before an official ship date is an accurate benchmark. As soon as that date firms up, all other pieces will fall into place.

The bottom line: Those of you who don't need to be on the leading edge of such exams can safely plan to wait until the second half of 2003 before you start down the upgrade trail. That way, you'll have access to aftermarket study guides, exam crams and practice tests to help you harvest your next crop of MCPs.

Ed Tittel is a principal at a small content development company based in Austin, Texas, and the creator of the Exam Cram series. He has worked on over 60 books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and various security certifications.

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