Alanis Morissette is right: It is ironic. It’s good advice that I just didn’t take.

Disregarding the recommendations of a few AdminRepublic readers, I recently attended an accelerated Windows 2000 training course. I’d been warned about the perils of training with beta software. But I figured the code’s been shipped to manufacturing, so the class and courseware must be complete and ready to go—especially since the lion’s share of exams passed by 700,000-plus certified IT pros have already been targeted for extinction.

As this isn’t Beanie Babies we’re talking about, but professional industry certification costing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of our time, I figured Redmond wouldn’t announce the retirement of almost its entire current operating system certification path without having the next track ready. I was wrong.

Imagine my disappointment when I entered my local training center in the year 2000 only to find manuals describing Beta 3. Yes, I’ll let you stop to gasp. Beta 3. Never mind the fact that the “Gold” version ships in what, five weeks and that after Beta 3 came the now months-old Release Candidates 1, 2, and 3.

Two courses in one
I attended Microsoft Course 1579, which combines courses 1560 and 1561. Descriptions of each follow:
Course 1560: Updating Support Skills From Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 to Microsoft Windows 2000

Redmond is targeting this class at the personnel who will be responsible for such tasks as installing and administering Microsoft Windows 2000, installing and configuring Active Directory, managing group policies, upgrading an NT 4 network to Windows 2000, and more.
Course 1561: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure

The purpose of this course is to teach IT pros how to design and configure Microsoft’s new Active Directory, which is quite possibly the most heralded feature of the new operating system.
Course 1579: Accelerated Training for Updating Support Skills and Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure

This class aims to teach administrators and support personnel how to identify features and differentiate technology changes from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000. It also covers the relationship between Active Directory directory services structure and network organization and explains how to populate Active Directory and manage Active Directory objects, deploy software using the Software installation policy, configure and support remote access in Windows 2000, and support Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) in Windows 2000.

Course 1579 also aims to prepare candidates for Microsoft exam 70-240: Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for MCPs Certified on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. The accelerated, intensive exam covers the core competencies of Windows 2000 exams 70-210, 70-215, 70-216, and 70-217. This is the test some 188,000 MCSEs could eye as they migrate their certifications from the NT 4 track to Windows 2000.

Let’s get the lead out
I feel much like Richard Cunningham must have when he purchased the lemon his father warned him not to buy. Some lessons we must learn on our own.

Of course, there are those in the industry needing to know as much about Windows 2000 now as they can. Trainers, MCSPs, and industry pundits, among others, come readily to mind.

While the accelerated training acquaints students with Active Directory, new protocols and features, migrating networks from NT 4 to Windows 2000, and more, it’ll also leave attendees a little angry as to why a several-thousand-dollar class doesn’t send you home with a more accurate reference tool. At least it did me.

The MOCs I received simply contain too many outdated process references and configuration descriptions for my liking. The binders refer to steps, radio buttons, and other elements that are no longer relevant.

Raising my ire even higher is the fact that class demonstrations and labs were completed using Release Candidate 2. C’mon, let’s get the lead out already! Microsoft needs to step up its distribution of accurate, up-to-date Windows 2000 training and certification tools. I don’t think it’s asking too much to be trained on the most recent distribution if one’s sufficiently foolish to fall for beta training. The “Gold” is being shipped to MCSPs and others, so why not make it available to training classes, too?

What should you do?
If you’ve just got to jump in with both feet, know that you’ll be working with outdated software and manuals. You’ll still find much value in the class. After all, the principles of forests, trees, organizational units, the Active Directory, replication, and other new features aren’t going to change. That knowledge will be valuable.

But if you can wait until the full-blown, final-version classes arrive, you’d be best served to attend them. Doing so will ensure you receive a helpful binder that sits proudly on your shelf for years, rather than one that sends you to the bookstore weeks later.

Until then, round up a few test units and load evaluation copies of Windows 2000 Server and Professional. Familiarizing yourself now with the basics will help you learn the details later.
Do you feel Microsoft 2000 training tools should be further along, considering the fact that Redmond’s already announced the retirement of the NT 4 track? Or, are old software and manuals to be expected five weeks before a new OS is released? Tell us what you think. Post your comments below.

Erik Eckel has spent his fair share of time in classrooms, test labs, and server rooms learning the intricacies of network operating systems. He’s gone seven-for-seven on Microsoft exams.