In my column a few weeks ago, I recommended that you avoid Lanop’s NT-CIP certification. Many of you vehemently disagreed. Some of you even questioned how much Microsoft paid me to write the article.

Yesterday, I published an article that delved a little deeper into the issues surrounding Lanop’s program. It revealed false claims Lanop made when it stated that VUE and Prometric would offer NT-CIP exams on Jan. 1, 2001.

Those claims were included in published interviews by other media outlets and on Lanop’s Web site. I asked Lanop founder, John Goodfriend, about the perplexed reactions I received from both testing centers’ spokespeople when I mentioned their partnership with Lanop. As it turns out, neither testing facility has plans to offer NT-CIP exams. In fact, both testing facilities told me they hadn’t discussed such a project with Lanop. After I spoke with Goodfriend about this, he promptly removed the VUE claim from the Lanop site, but the Prometric statement remains, despite the fact that Prometric has said it has no plans to participate.

Further, it appears that Goodfriend may face civil and criminal penalties as a result of an investigation by the state of New York into alleged illegal operating practices at Lanop.

I hate to say I told you so…
The NT-CIP certification represented a low-budget scam, in my eye, from the beginning. So, I looked further into the issue.

An official at the New York State Department of Education said that all facilities that accept tuition and provide educational training in the Empire State must be licensed by the Department of Education. Lanop is not, I learned, and an investigation is underway. Civil and felony criminal charges are both possibilities, and the issue isn’t new. It’s been ongoing for a while now.

Credibility is important
Perhaps the most important component of a certification is the credibility of the organization awarding it. Would you want a certification promoted by an organization that’s posted blatant falsehoods on its Web site and is the subject of a civil, and potentially criminal, investigation? I don’t think so.

The second most important component of a certification is vendor support, and that’s not just my opinion.

Scott Allison, VUE’s global director of marketing, agreed that vendor support for the certification is critical, saying it would be hard for a certification to succeed without some kind of endorsement by the vendor.

“I would not predict much success for it because there has to be a driver for the certification,” Allison said.

The third most important component of a certification is the ability to actually take its tests. So far, I’ve failed, despite considerable research, to find a single testing facility in North America that will offer the NT-CIP exams.

What’s the real story here?
Less than 10 weeks before Lanop says the certification will launch, no one is prepared to offer the exams. Further, Lanop is facing significant legal issues. This is not a good way to launch a respected certification.

Jeannette Bair, executive director of Prometric’s Microsoft business unit, revealed some additional news. She said that when Prometric had individuals call to inquire about the NT-CIP certification, they found out the NT-CIP wasn’t being created as a tool to demonstrate Windows NT 4.0 skills, but as a ruse.

“Basically, they [said they] were hoping that Microsoft would extend their window on the NT 4.0 being retired, and they would back off if so.”

How does it end?
I think Lanop will back off. But my bet is it won’t be because Microsoft delays the retirement of the Windows NT 4.0 track. Redmond won’t do that. It’ll be because no one will administer the NT-CIP exams, and even if a testing facility signs up (which is unlikely), Lanop will have difficulty introducing credibility to the cert when it’s fighting its own credibility battles in New York.
If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.