In case you’ve been vacationing on Palm Island in the Grenadines, a small controversy arose while you were away. A few weeks ago, I reported on a new, alternative Windows NT 4.0 certification being promoted by Lanop Corp. founder, John Goodfriend. The NT-CIP (NT Certified Independent Professional) may or may not launch in January, depending on who you talk to.

I’ve made my opinion clear. I don’t believe the NT-CIP offers much value. But what do other TechRepublic members have to say? A selection of their responses appears below.
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IT professionals must move forward
“I agree with you and Microsoft on this issue,” said TechRepublic member Dennis. “The NT4.0 cert was good [in] its time, but so was the Stanley Steamer. We as IT professionals must always move forward. Like life, this is a natural progression and should be embraced. Besides, most of us are drawn into this industry because we actually love change and the challenges it brings.”

Disappointed in Microsoft
William, a new tech on the block, wrote, “I have been very disappointed that Microsoft has decided to retire the NT 4.0 track exams. The retirement of the NT 4.0 exams is going to cost me quite a bit of money and time wasted taking courses to prepare me for Windows NT 4.0. I don’t understand why [Microsoft] can’t just have ‘MCSE NT’ and ‘MCSE 2000’ certifications. Those who want or need to be Windows 2000 certified could pursue it, and those who don’t could decide not to. But instead, they’ve decided to force everyone’s hand, and I believe that will open up the door for other possible certifications and operating systems.”

Where does the NT-CIP fall in William’s plans?

“As far as NT-CIP goes, I look at it this way: Remember the ABA and the AFL? These two professional sports leagues were considered second-tier at best and bush league by most when compared to the NBA and the NFL. The ABA and the AFL, however, created enough competition and drew away enough stars to force the NBA and the NFL to consider and eventually merge with them. It is easy for us to ‘player-hate’ this new certification, but it could be the David that slays Goliath. Besides, the real reason Microsoft is pushing the retirement of Windows NT 4.0 certification exams is to generate new business. If enough well-respected MCSEs jump ship to NT-CIP, you could see the creditability of NT-CIP go up, and that might cause a change of heart by the big guys in Redmond.”

There’s no choice but NT-CIP
“If all goes as currently laid out, come Jan. 1, 2001, for new certs and Jan. 1, 2002, for existing ones, if your company runs NT 4.0, you won’t have a choice,” said Bill, a technology coordinator for a school district. “If you want certification in what you’re using, you’ll have to go to Lanop. And if companies require NT-certified employees, they’ll have to accept NT-CIP. (Yes, I’m making an assumption that it will maintain a degree of quality.)

“Personally, I’ve already ordered my certificate [from Lanop]. It can’t hurt. Despite the fact that I’ll be installing Win2K servers in the very near future, I don’t know if I will pursue an $8,000 Win2K cert, at least until I find out what hoops await for Whistler, possibly only another year away. And even if Microsoft doesn’t clamp down on it, I’m not sure I like the look of ‘Certifications: former MCSE’ on my resume.”

Another example of Microsoft’s arrogance
“I do not know whether the NT-CIP is a good thing or a bad thing,” wrote Jim, a CNE and MCSE. “I do know that Microsoft’s push on us is another example of their arrogance. It relates to the current court troubles. The message is we need them; they do not need us.”

MCSEs will opt for NT-CIP, but it’s not a replacement
“I think what’s going to happen is that existing MCSEs are going to opt for the ‘get the NT-CIP for free’ program that Lanop is offering for existing MCSEs,” said Ryan, a technical manager. “Then, the MCSE is naturally going to upgrade to Win2K. I don’t think any existing MCSE truly believes that the NT-CIP is going to replace their existing MCSE. If they do, they’re either in the wrong field or the ink on their paper certification hasn’t dried yet.”

Ryan also said that the NT-CIP will eventually allow Win2K MCSEs to say to potential employers, “Hey! Look at me! Not only do I know Win2K and am certified by Microsoft, but I’ve got an independent certification for having knowledge of NT 4.0!”

Some aren’t so sure NT-CIP will exist
Another TechRepublic member, who asked to remain anonymous, said the NT-CIP is simply a ruse developed by Lanop.

“This isn’t about certification. This is about Lanop’s stated policy of guaranteeing that a student will pass his exams, regardless of whether the certification changes. Lanop has a few hundred students on its MCSE-NT 4.0 tracks who would have to be grandfathered into the Win2K track without paying Lanop any more money. At the same time, Lanop would have to spend several thousand dollars on writing brand-new curricula. This way, they avoid the cost of developing new curricula and get more mileage out of what they have written already. They also are spared the cost of upgrading their older computer equipment.”

What’s the fuss? Win2K’s better
“As far as I’m concerned, Windows 2000 is head and shoulders above the NT 4.0 product,” wrote TechRepublic member Henry. “All areas of concern in a secure business computing environment have been addressed in the release. In other words, those who care about the integrity of their networks in a Microsoft environment will welcome the changes that the product brings.” He added, “Too many people want a job where you can get as much money for as little effort as possible. Business wants to get its job done with as few of these types as possible. I will get paid what I’m worth by helping businesses do that. I’m 44 years old, have been an MCSE, an MCT, and MCSE+I all in the space of three (!) years. I have moved from having no income to being paid in the upper 15 percent of my field in the region where I work. I am proud of this, but I also know that it’s a continuous process of learning. I love it.”

Short but sweet
The e-mail box is always full of short but sweet messages that clearly communicate readers’ feelings in as few words as possible. For example: “I can’t believe your closed-mindedness to this issue. Just go jump in bed with Microsoft.”

However, I believe Rob summed it up best when he wrote, “NT Certified Independent who?”
If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.