Microsoft's certification reversal cuts both ways with MCSEs

Microsoft seemed to be listening to its customers when it decided not to retire MCSE certifications. So why are so many MCSEs up in arms about the reversal? According to some TechRepublic members, turnabout is not fair play when it comes to certs.

First you would, and then you wouldn’t. Then you wanted to, but you didn’t have the cash. Then your company said they’d pay, but you didn’t have the time. Either you did or you didn’t, and now it turns out you didn’t need to after all.

Microsoft’s reversal on its previous decision to retire NT 4.0 MCSE certifications has left IT pros in an interesting situation. Those who went ahead with the suggested certs are now feeling betrayed, those who ignored Microsoft’s guidelines are feeling smart, and those who just hate Microsoft are feeling vindicated.

TechRepublic members have been debating this turn of events since it happened about a month ago. The discussion, begun by NetAdmin Republic community editor Jason Hiner, drew more than 400 replies.

Before you go over to the discussion to weigh in with your two cents, take a look at a few of the opposing opinions we've gathered below.

The early bird gets the shaft
The IT pros who made the effort and spent the money to upgrade their certifications seemed to be the most bitter about Microsoft’s reversal. In order to encourage early adoption of the new certification, Microsoft gave those who passed the tests prior to Oct. 31, 2001, special gold "Early Achiever" certification cards.

Jddw wrote, "Instead of 'Early Achiever,' my gold-plated card should read 'Stupid Achiever: Victim no. #### of another Microsoft scam.' After all the effort I put into obtaining my MCSE 2000, I see my investment so devalued that it is now useless. I was no more than a victim of a scam."

Along with feeling that their efforts were unnecessary, some early adopters had to put up with flack from coworkers who joined the majority of MCSEs who refused to upgrade their certifications right away.

"I am someone who has upgraded to the 2K certification. It will be my last MS certification. I guess I feel cheated because I put a lot of time, effort, and stress into passing the 240 exam over the summer. Now I feel that it was unnecessary, because my organization is not ready to upgrade the OS. I upgraded out of the pressure of being decertified," wrote Ever1965. "All this does is aid those in my company who give me grief about certifications. They think I am crazy to put myself through the constant change. I am beginning to agree. If I am wrong in the way I feel, all right. I just really do not put much stock in what MS says anymore."

Others who upgraded their certification thought that doing so would give them a competitive advantage by culling out thousands of "paper" MCSEs who would not be able to pass the more strident standards in the new certification.

Ert1 wrote, "I'm not happy. I was looking forward to the MCSE meaning something again by the end of the year, when 400,000 paper MCSEs were dropped from the rolls. I have my Win2K MCSE, so I'm not worried, but I feel MS made a mistake changing course like that. NT 4 is going to be around, but I'm surprised MS wants to promote its use by supporting the certification."

Big, bad Microsoft
As with all things associated with Microsoft, there are the MS detractors, who see this latest incident as nothing more than the computing giant trying to string along IT pros who aren’t yet wise to its devious ways.

Riskybznis22 wrote that Microsoft's original intention of retiring the MCSE for NT 4.0 was an insult to those who had earned the certification. It doesn't matter what Microsoft does, according to Riskybznis22, because the company will find a way to fleece their MCSEs and customers another way.

"So M$ changed their minds once again and decided to grace us NT MCSEs with their kindness, eh? I, for one, just don't care anymore what M$ says or what they tell me I have to do. I was planning to go right on being an MCSE as of Jan. 1, 2002, so to hell with them and their nonsense," wrote Jlipscomb.

Member David Higgenbotham agreed, saying that after more than 15 years supporting Microsoft products, ”I prefer to spend my time being a little more innovative, trying to incorporate emerging technologies to position my company for the future rather than wasting my time trying to fix something that should not be broken in the first place…. I'm not going to chase my tail every 24 months when M$ wags a new broken OS in my face and expects me, and all the rest of us, to troubleshoot the problems out of it for the next bug fix. If I’ve got to fix it to use it, then it should be free!"

To Microsoft's rescue
Not everyone was joining the Microsoft-bashing fest. Many participants in the discussion reminded their peers that the company has provided them with the products that have encouraged employers to hire them in the first place.

Others, like Justjonnygirl, value the certification tests as a way to stay current with their skill sets. "If all you work with is NT, then it's wonderful that your certs will still be valid. Be happy (like most of us) that Microsoft has taken the feedback from folks in the industry and reevaluated the need to retire NT 4 certs. The technology is awesome, and I, frankly, appreciate what Microsoft has done for computing globally," Justjonnygirl wrote.

Several supporters said that they had decided not to go after any more Microsoft certs, but now that Microsoft has issued this reversal, they will reconsider their Microsoft certification options.

"So glad to hear Microsoft hasn't shut their ears and closed their minds to the ideas, if not demands, of their support system and customers," wrote Bogus Genius. "I, for one, am 'upgrading' (and that is what it is, like it or not) from NT4 to W2K. But now I can reorder my priorities without suffering the wrath of MS."

Mike Griffin wrote, "After the initial announcement, I had decided not to pursue any new Microsoft certifications, but rather go with Sun, Cisco, etc,. where the technology may expire but the certification does not. I believe others may have come to the same decision. Now I will again consider new Microsoft certifications."

That sentiment was echoed by others, like Jim Biles, who wrote, "I'll reconsider my decision to never recertify. Since skills that are still valid in the workplace won't be arbitrarily trashed, the effort will have a different value. It will also give me time to actually use 2000 on a production network and earn the cert based on real experience."

Do you have something you'd like to say?
If you want to add to the discussion about Microsoft's decision not to retire certifications based on the release of new technologies, jump right in! Read through the discussion and add your thoughts to a particular thread or add something new.

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