It’s apparent that many IT professionals are flocking to Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Professional exam. A quick check of the Cramsession Web site reveals that the study guide for the Win2K Pro exam is by far the favorite, with more than 122,000 downloads in June. The Win2K Accelerated exam guide was a distant second at 106,000 downloads. A review of the highest rated IT Certification Corner columns from this year show a similar trend. The four highest rated columns all discuss Windows 2000 Professional.

I’m not terribly surprised. The clock is winding down on Windows NT 4.0 certifications, and Windows 2000 Professional has proven itself to be a quite capable enterprise OS for the desktop. In case you missed some of the IT Certification Column topics that have been the most popular this year, here is a quick review.

The Win2K Pro exam
In preparation for my own Windows 2000 Professional exam, I built a list of topics, commands, and other elements I felt it was necessary to know inside and out before trying my hand at exam 70-210. The list, published in three installments, boasts the highest ratings of any columns I’ve written this year.

Apparently, the effort was worth it. I’ve received e-mail from a number of TechRepublic members saying that they’ve found the list helpful. One writer even attributed his passing to the help he received from the article series, which certainly helped me pass my own Win2K Pro exam.

In case you missed the articles, you can find them here:

Certification vs. continuing education
Almost as highly rated as the Win2K Pro lists were articles on Microsoft certification in general. A few months ago, I began thinking more seriously about comments I’d received from readers in the past. If attorneys, nurses, accountants, and other professionals can readily maintain their skills and expertise in their changing industries via continuing education, why couldn’t the same work for IT certification?

I put my thoughts and ideas into a column that’s proven popular. I’ve received almost 200 e-mails, many lengthy and carefully constructed, from members sounding off on the idea. The column has also spawned a lengthy discussion. You can read the article and join in the discussion here.

Should you want to read some of the e-mail highlights I received, you can check out the follow-up column I wrote on June 22.

Disk cloning
As anyone who’s spent time with Win2K Pro can tell you, disk cloning plays an important part not only in Windows 2000 Professional deployment, but in certification exams, too. It’s an important concept administrators must understand, even if they’re not pursuing certification.

One of the biggest improvements in Windows 2000 is its ability to strip computer-specific information from a machine prior to cloning it for deployment. It’s a feature that’s sure to save many administrators much time. It’s also sure to send more than a few reaching for the Tylenol, as some advanced understanding is required to make the most of disk cloning. Get it wrong, and you’re sure to have maddening experiences. Read up on the Sysprep utility and Win2K’s support for disk cloning here.

The dreaded OSI model
It’s critical that IT professionals understand the OSI model, as well as why it’s important. Memorizing what occurs at which levels of the OSI model is essential not just for troubleshooting network errors, but for your confidence. The more you know about networking, and the more you understand the OSI model, the easier you’ll find networking questions when they pop up on your certification exams.

And they will. Whether you’re sitting for an MCP exam, a CCNA, or even CompTIA’s Network+, you need to know the different OSI layers and the tasks each layer is responsible for fulfilling.

But learning the OSI model doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, you can learn the basics from this article in less than 20 minutes.

Eckel’s take
As the year progresses, tens of thousands of IT professionals face losing MCP/MCSE certification if they don’t migrate to the Windows 2000 track. Windows 2000 Professional is an appropriate place to start, which explains the popularity of this year’s Win2K Pro columns.

Rest assured that as we move into the second half of the year, you’ll find additional tips and resources covering other Microsoft exams, as well as study guides for CompTIA’s Network+ exam. After all, you’ll no longer be able to claim Networking Essentials accreditation from Microsoft. You’ll have to get it somewhere else, and CompTIA is the logical choice.

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