Two camps have quickly emerged following Microsoft’s announced retirement of the Windows NT 4 Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) track. Notably, one significantly outnumbers the other.

The first claims it’s Microsoft’s cert, and they can do whatever they wish to do with it, plus the changes will only make the accreditation more valuable. The other contingent claims Microsoft’s just pursuing increased profits.

Annie, get your gun!
Many TechRepublic members say they don’t care that Redmond will no longer recognize their hard-earned MCSE. These IT professionals say, “Once an MCSE, always an MCSE.” Others shout, “Annie, get your gun!” when they hear others will continue claiming the cert without keeping it current. Strong arguments can be made for both sides, excluding those encouraging the use of firearms, of course!

Many of the IT professionals choosing to invest their time and money in the new cert will resent others continuing to claim MCSE status, when in fact they no longer meet the requirements. Infosec reflected the sentiments of some when he wrote, “I’ll be the first one to sign up for making it illegal to say you’ve earned a certification when you really haven’t!!! Sounds like we need a grassroots coalition to get this started!”
What did editorial director Bob Artner have to say? Check out his comments, which many of you agreed with, here.
With that in mind, I wrote that misrepresentation of one’s credentials should be made illegal. One TechRepublic member responded that it already is; it’s called fraud. Others recommended creating a new track. Have the first be MCSE-NT and the second MCSE-Win2K. This makes sense to me, as the skills MCSEs have developed haven’t changed that much.

How do you really feel?
But there are other concerns, too. Here are some of your edited opinions that best represent the mail I received regarding the MCSE NT 4 retirement:

Ubadv may have said it best when writing, “reality has big teeth.” He continued, stating, “When new laws come out that weren’t on the bar when a lawyer took his exam, it doesn’t disqualify him from being a lawyer, same goes for a doctor and illnesses.”

But the majority of TechRepublic members said it’s business as usual. They’ll continue claiming MCSE status.

Most respondents didn’t see the continued recognition of a defunct MCSE as a crime. Charles, a network administrator, wrote, “I agree. To make a crime of false representation of your credentials would be overkill, to say the least. Blacklisting would be much more effective, I think.”

Douglas says Microsoft can’t even retire the certification. “Microsoft cannot rescind an earned qualification. Difficult questions of misrepresentation and restraint of trade would have to be answered. In countries such as Australia this is specifically illegal, contravening federal laws outlawing secondary boycotts.”

Casey, however, isn’t sure you can regulate the certification in the U.S. “I don’t think that you can federally regulate a certification that is extended, administered, or what have you at the whim of Microsoft’s marketing machine. Further, it is patently unfair to those who have worked with the NT product and supported Microsoft for years to suddenly find that they are no longer ‘certified,’ regardless of their experience, qualification, or ability.”

Others say Redmond’s retirement is simply ludicrous. WVHorn pointed out that the NT technology is still being used. “To say {to} those who passed and earned MCSE status, {it} is absolutely ludicrous to {now} say one is ‘No longer certified.’ After all, MS’ W2K splash advertises W2K as being built on NT technology. Either it is or it isn’t. Sure, non-W2K MCSEs are certified on older technology, technology that will be around in production beyond 2001.”

WVHorn continued, mirroring the statements made by Ubadv, “Once a doctor is certified as a medical practitioner and an attorney passes his (or her) bar exams, that’s it. Unless their status is removed by a panel of their peers and regulators for malpractice, it is up to the practitioner as to pursuing certification into other areas of specialization. So it should be for the MCSE too.”

What companies think of the controversy may be the most important factor of all in this debate. Does it matter if Microsoft retires a certification if companies still seek the accreditation for their employees?

Here’s what MGrissom had to say: “Just because Microsoft decides not to recognize it does not mean some other company will not. Most companies will still be running NT 4 until 2003 or so…”

Until there’s an answer
Until the issue is settled, what are IT departments to do? Jane offers this recommendation, “Having interviewed people for teaching positions which required special certification, I asked for a set of transcriptions to be sent from the school directly to me. I also asked for a certified true copy of the degree, diploma, and/or certificate. If the student was unwilling to pay the fee to have these done, my radar went up.”

Erik Eckel MCP+I, MCSE is editor-in-chief, IT communities. He’s currently awaiting delivery of a new mountain bike he intends to use to relieve his MCSE retirement frustrations.

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 .