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Return of NT to the MCSE exam pool

Return of NT to the MCSE exam pool
By Ed Tittel

On Feb. 2, Microsoft posted objectives on its web site for Exam 70-244: Supporting and Maintaining a Windows NT Server 4.0 Network. This ended months of rumor and speculation based on Microsoft's own disclosure late in 2000 that such an exam was under development, and finally put a name to that promised exam. Here's a quick peek into its contents and some information about the planned beta schedule and final delivery of this new exam.

  • The exam is still under development, even though initial objectives are now available.
  • The exam will go into beta from March 21-27, 2001 -- as with all other current Microsoft exam, beta participation is by invitation only. If previous history is an indicator, the current beta dates -- which can always slip -- would put the final, commercial release of this exam in the early May to June, 2001, time frame.
  • This exam really does focus on Windows NT 4.0. In fact, here's a direct quote from the Audience Profile for the exam: "Candidates for this exam operate in medium to very large computing environments that use Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 as a primary network operating system." Windows 2000 shows up here only as a potential client system!

The objectives for the exam provide a little more substance that you can glean from the Audience Profile. Here's what they cover:

  • Maintaining, troubleshooting, and optimizing servers:
    Working with service packs and hotfixes, troubleshooting hardware and upgrades, backup and restore operations, operating system repair and recovery, and troubleshooting and optimizing server performance.
  • Configuring and troubleshooting users and groups:
    Configuring and troubleshooting trust relationships, account policies, groups; user accounts, profiles, and logon scripts; creating, managing, and troubleshooting system and user specific computer policies.
  • Analyzing, Configuring and Monitoring Security:
    Using the Security Configuration Editor to apply appropriate server security templates and customize such templates; implementing, using, and analyzing audit capabilities; implementing security enhancements, including SMB signing, and enforcing strongest possible NTLM security; monitoring and managing system and network security.
  • Configuring, Managing, and Troubleshooting Access to Resources:
    Working with network connectivity, including name resolution services, default IP gateways, Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA), DHCP, and Ipconfig; working with IIS, including multi-homing, performance management, and the Windows Load Balancing Service (WLBS) for Web sites; monitoring, managing, and maintaining name resolution services, including NetBIOS, DNS, and the Browser service; configuring and managing RAS and RRAS, including configuration backup and restore, Internet Authentication Services (IAS), and VPN access; using Event Viewer, PerfMon, and Network Monitor to monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize network performance.

This is an exam that's both good and useful. It covers things that full-time NT administrators already wrestle with on a daily basis. It does a good job of covering all the hot topics they must master. My biggest problem with the older NT 4.0 exams was that they never took cognizance of Service Packs or system upgrades and enhancements. This exam brings the NT knowledge base tested up from August, 1996, to the present day -- right where it belongs. If you know NT well, and need an "easy elective" for your MCSE upgrade, you will love this exam as much as I do because Microsoft will finally test you on stuff that you know inside out and backwards.

For more details, visit Microsoft's online exam description and objectives by clicking here.

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