Microsoft

NT 4 MCSEs-to-be: Choose your electives well

Maximize your NT 4 electives, and you could save yourself two exams on your way to Win2K MCSE status. Here's how.


Have you seen the commercial where a guy’s just bought a brand new T5 computer? He’s cruising home in his GTO, sporting a proud-as-a-papa smile with the new PC parked in the passenger seat. Then, stopped at a light, he spots the billboard being changed to announce the new T6.

Any IT pro working toward an NT 4 MCSE understands perfectly the guy’s subsequent feelings of despair. Nothing stays current in IT for long, including certifications.

While much discussion has targeted the migration to the new Microsoft Windows 2000 MCSE, many are still working to finish the NT 4 track. In fact, some are just getting started.
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What NT 4 electives aren’t scheduled for retirement?
If you’re among the IT professionals needing to complete your NT 4 MCSE, take some time to ensure you maximize the effort. The lion’s share of NT 4 exams are now scheduled for retirement, but opportunities still exist to obtain Win2K credit for NT 4 exams.

In December, Microsoft announced the retirement of the most popular electives: CP/IP and IIS 4.0. However, other tests remain available for fulfilling candidates’ Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 MCSE elective requirements:
  • Exam 70-013: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft SNA Server 3.0 or Exam 70-085: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft SNA Server 4.0
  • Exam 70-018: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.2 or Exam 70-086: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Systems Management Server 2.0
  • Exam 70-019: Designing and Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
  • Exam 70-027: Implementing a Database Design on Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 or Exam 70-029: Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
  • Exam 70-026: System Administration for Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 or
    Exam 70-028: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
  • Exam 70-056: Implementing and Supporting Web Sites Using Microsoft Site Server 3.0
  • Exam 70-076: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5 or Exam 70-081: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5
  • Exam 70-078: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 1.0 or Exam 70-088: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0
  • Exam 70-079: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 by Using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit or Exam 70-080: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 by Using the Microsoft Internet Explorer Administration Kit

As you can see, there are sufficient elective choices still available to complete your selection. But you can weed out a few. Even if you’ve got much experience with an older software version, I’d recommend taking the most recent exam for those software programs still offering multiple exams. For example, I wouldn’t take Exam 70-078 if I were experienced with Proxy Server 1.0. Instead, I’d get up to speed on the differences in Proxy Server 2.0 and take Exam 70-088. You’re probably buying a few extra months, as the earlier exam will be retired first.

If you’re unsure which electives to pursue, I’d recommend chasing Exams 70-081 and 70-029. Administrators with SQL and Exchange skills will be in demand. But then, I thought it best to pursue the TCP/IP and IIS certifications last summer. Just remember that the bull’s-eye we’re all targeting is moving.

Windows 2000 electives
In case you missed Redmond’s fine print, there are also four Win2K exams that will count as NT 4 electives. They are:
  • Exam 70-219: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure
  • Exam 70-220: Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network
  • Exam 70-221: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  • Exam 70-222: Upgrading from Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 to Microsoft Windows 2000

Are the Win2K electives for you? It depends. Ask yourself the following three questions:
  1. Will my company be using Windows NT 4 systems for at least the next year?
  2. Do I have significant (six months minimum) hands-on administrative experience with Windows NT 4?
  3. Will my company wait at least six months (until fall 2000) to begin installing Windows 2000 boxes?

If you answer yes to all three questions above, you should probably concentrate on earning Windows NT 4 electives that also count for Windows 2000 certification.

If you answered no to two or three of the questions, it would likely be best to fill your NT 4 elective slots with Win2K certs. Which ones? I’d recommend Exam 70-222, as migration from NT 4 to Win2K will be a hot topic for years to come. Give Exam 70-219 a look, too, as directory services capabilities are going to be a large part of Windows 2000. The only rub is that you may have to wait several months for the Win2K exams to hit the street.

NT 4 MCSE+Internet?
Forget about it. Once you finish your NT 4 MCSE, I recommend taking a few weeks off from studying. Rest, catch the Super Bowl, grab a movie with the family. Recharge your batteries, then focus your energies on Windows 2000, rather than pushing forward for three more NT 4 exams. In my opinion, it’ll be better to be certified MCSE for Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 than to be a Windows NT MCSE+I and still working toward Windows 2000 certification.
If you'd like to share your opinion, please post a comment below.

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