Earlier this month, Microsoft announced updates to its exam retirement policy. In the past, exam retirements often took certified Microsoft professionals by surprise.

No more. At least, that’s the plan.

Redmond has updated its retirement policy in an attempt to help keep its accreditations “relevant, valued, and respected.” How is the software company doing so?

Let us count the ways
First, Microsoft will no longer retire exams at different times throughout the year. Instead, exams will be expired only in the months of June and December. Further, exam retirements will no longer be dependent upon the release of new tests.

Second, although Redmond will continue announcing exam retirements on a quarterly basis, affected IT professionals will have a minimum of one year after an exam retires to fulfill upgrade requirements. Still a bit too tight for your busy schedule? It gets a little better.

Third, exam retirement announcements will precede the actual retirement date by about six months. Thus, certified Microsoft professionals should be able to sleep a little easier knowing they’ll have at least that window of time (a year and a half total) to upgrade a certification.

That said…
The new retirement policy should help some 1 million certified Microsoft pros feel a little better about maintaining their certs. Now they’ll have a firmer understanding of when expiration announcements might come, as well as how long they’ll have to upgrade.

Why’s that such a concern now? Notice has just been served on 11 more exams. They’re scheduled for retirement at the end of this year.

Do you possess one of the newly marked certs? Here’s the list.

Microsoft exam retirements announced in July 2000
Exam Title
Exam 70-213 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft SNA Server 3.0
Exam 70-018 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Systems Management Server 1.2
Exam 70-024 Developing Applications with C++ Using the Microsoft Foundation Class Library
Exam 70-025 Implementing OLE in Microsoft Foundation Class Applications
Exam 70-026 System Administration for Microsoft SQL Server 6.5
Exam 70-027 Implementing a Database Design on Microsoft SQL Server 6.5
Exam 70-069 Application Development with Microsoft Access for Windows 95 and the Microsoft Access Developer’s Toolkit
Exam 70-076 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5
Exam 70-078 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 1.0
Exam 70-079 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 by Using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit
Exam 70-165 Developing Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0
You can find more information on these exam retirements on Microsoft’s site.

Now that the dust has settled
The lion’s share of the Windows NT 4.0 exam retirements was announced late last fall. Much discussion ensued. The NT 4.0 expirations were the talk among IT pros around the water cooler, on Web sites, and in newsgroups. The debate over whether the NT 4.0 track was being retired too soon was also the subject of several articles on TechRepublic’s site, including an earlier Paperchase Digest published in December.

What’s your opinion, now that tempers have cooled and Windows 2000 has been released? Was the retirement timing appropriate, and will Redmond’s new retirement policy help you maintain your certification? Send your comments here!

Erik Eckel MCP+I, MCSE is editor in chief of TechRepublic’s IT Communities. He’s previously held positions as a high-speed IP access product manager and a communications representative for nationwide long-distance, data networking, and Internet services providers.

If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment at the bottom of this page or send the editor an e-mail.