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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Oct 15, 2001 (Vol. 6, #79 - Issue #314)
You Get To Keep Your MCSE
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Lesson For Microsoft
    • In Depth MCSE Analysis By Guru Ed Tittel
    • MS Backpedals on NT 4.0 MCSE Decertification
    • Special ISP Offer For W2Knews Subscribers
    • Did You Know? Sunbelt has a FREE MCSE LIST
    • Put Your NT/2000 System On STEROIDS!
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • FREE STUDY GUIDES-MCSE Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for Dummies!
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Lesson For Microsoft

Hi All,

Thanks again for your congratulations. When one gets acknowledged for good work done, it's always an inspiration to continue and yet again earn one more "attaboy". Sunbelt Software is here to service you. Our goal is simple. Make your life a bit easier and help you solve NT/W2K problems. Our staff in France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, the U.K. and U.S. are ready to help and support you.

Other companies would also be wise to continue to remember this. Microsoft is one I have in mind. Their first allegiance is to their customers, but despite the fact that it is filled with very smart people, they sometimes seem to forget that. Two examples come to mind: Licensing 6.0 and MCSE.

From my perspective, it is you and me that have made Microsoft a monopoly. There is actually nothing bad or illegal about a monopoly in principle. As long as you don't misuse the privilege. It is just that we as a market like to have things compatible with each other. We like standards because it makes things more manageable. We gave MS a 'public trust' to manage and expand these standards. Pretty much like elected officials.

In turn, MS needs to be aware that they have the responsibility to care for these standards and service us. We have given them economic stewardship of these standards, and their job is to serve us to the best of their abilities. When they violate that trust, they will lose market share.

THIS is their first responsibility, and their allegiance is to US, not Wall Street. Many public companies seem to forget that after a while, and start dancing to the Street's tune. Let's just remember the simple fact that the market (we) made MS into a monopoly to begin with.

Let's also hope that MS confronts that fact and stops denying it. The old rule applies: perceptions are facts. The market now thinks you are a monopoly so you are one. You are voted in and out of power with people's pocketbooks. No matter how much they are 'locked in', they will leave if you continue to anger them. Behave responsibly and prevent them from voting with their feet.

How? Well, MS could have avoided a whole river of bad blood by doing their homework: market research. Here is another old rule that they forgot in some important cases: "Know Before You Go". They should have done sufficient research, by external, objective experts that are not afraid to give MS an earful of bad news. Industry analysts and dedicated outfits like survey.com come to mind.

The heavy-handed MCSE tactics stank from day one, the market in general did not like it, and the press had a field day with all the controversy. Up front research, well executed, could have prevented the MCSEgg on their face and the black eye of Licensing 6.0. So I have just one word of advice for Microsoft: SURVEY! And then act upon the results, even if they are not what you would like.

And if you want to see how close Microsoft's new policy is to what I suggested in W2Knews #293 last August, after we surveyed the market about the new MCSE policies, just read that Editorial over here:

FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: Sunbelt is not soliciting any survey work for MS, we have done these regular surveys since 1996 for free as a service to the market. They are not charged for, not sponsored and free from interference by an person or organization. Stu Sjouwerman, the Editor of W2Knews does not own any stock in any of the companies discussed including Microsoft, and has not owned any in the past, except his stocks in Sunbelt Software.

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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In Depth MCSE Analysis By Guru Ed Tittel

On October 11, 2001, Microsoft stunned the certification community by announcing that certifications based on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 will not expire or retire on 12/31/2001 as the company had originally planned. Instead, Microsoft is moving to a "version designation" system for MCP transcripts that will identify certifications with the version of the operating system or other relevant software to which that certification is related. At present, Microsoft has two such version designations:

    * ...on Windows NT 4.0, which designates the related certification as based on Windows NT 4.0. This designation applies to the following certifications: MCP, MCSE, MCSE+I, MCP+I, and MCP+Site Building. Thus, this MCSE would formally be called "MCSE on Windows NT 4.0."

    * ...on Microsoft Windows 2000, which designates the related certification as based on Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, or Windows Server .NET. This designation applies to the following certifications: MCP, MCSE, MCSA, and MCDBA (except for the latter, it's called "MCDBA on SQL Server 2000" instead). Here, this MCSE would formally be called "MCSE on Microsoft Windows 2000."

In two related announcements, Microsoft also released the following information:
  1. Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) now have until May 1, 2002, to obtain their MCSE on Microsoft Windows 2000 credentials.
  2. Microsoft has released a formal "Discontinuation of Exams" policy, available online at Microsoft Training and Services. Here, they indicate that any new MS exam will have a life of at least 2 years, and that they will inform the certification community at least 12 months in advance of the discontinuation of any certification exam.
The most obvious consequence of this announcement is that MCSEs who don't recertify by 12/31/2001 no longer have to worry about "losing" their MCSE status. But this announcement has numerous other implications as well, which I'll discuss a little later. But first, I want to introduce the new Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator, or MCSA, certification.

Introducing the MCSA
The MCSA is a nuts-and-bolts, hands-on, operational certification aimed at people who work on Windows systems and networks every day. This certification requires passing four exams, of which 3 are Core exams, and a fourth that is an elective. The three Core exams fall into two categories:

Core Category 1: Client Operating System Exams
To meet this category's requirements, candidates must pass one exam, which may be either the 70-210 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Windows 2000 Professional test, or the equivalent 70-270 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Windows XP Professional test.

Core Category 2: Networking System Exams
To meet this category's requirements, candidates must pass two exams, one on either Server version valid for ...on Microsoft Windows 2000 designated certifications, and another from a pair of new exams on managing Microsoft networks on either Server version. To be more specific, candidates must pass one exam from each of the following two pairs of exams:

Pair 1: Server OS Exams

  • 70-215 Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • 70-275 Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft Windows .NET Server
Pair 2: Network Management Exams
  • 70-218 Managing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Environment (Available January 2002, according to the MCSA Requirements page)
  • 70-279 Managing a Microsoft Windows .NET Server Network Environment (Available later in 2002).
Candidates must pass one exam from the following list, with certain substitutions allowed. First, I cover the list, then the substitutions:
  • 70-028 Administering Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
  • 70-081 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5
  • 70-088 Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0
  • 70-216 Implementing and Administering a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  • 70-224 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server
  • 70-227 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Enterprise Edition
  • 70-228 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition
  • 70-244 Supporting and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Network
Two kinds of substitutions are possible. Those eligible to take 70-240 Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for MCPs Certified on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, may substitute that single exam for any or all of 70-210, 70-215, and 70-216. Anyone who has taken and passed the CompTIA A+ and Network+ exams, or the CompTIA A+ and Server+ exams, may substitute those exams for the MCSA elective exam as well.

I think the MCSA will be well-received in the certification community. Because it requires fewer exams (4 versus 7) than the MCSE it can serve as a resting place for those who want to pause on the way to obtaining an MCSE. But the MCSA should also be a pretty successful credential in its own right, especially for those MCSEs for Windows NT 4.0 who may not want to upgrade their MCSEs but who may also want Windows 2000 credentials on their MCP transcripts.

For the complete, official story on the MCSA, please visit the MCSA page on the Microsoft Web site.

What Does It All Mean?
In closing this issue's column, I'd like to comment briefly on why I think Microsoft is changing its tune on Windows NT 4.0 certs, and what the change really means.

In essence, certification programs are very much driven by numbers. To a large extent, Microsoft's change of position is a "reality check," driven by the relatively slow upgrade progress of MCSEs into their new program. I believe that the company's realization that the number of MCSEs (currently over 398,000 as per the certification counts of 8/1/2001 at www.mcpmag.com) would drop dramatically--perhaps by as much as 80 per cent--when the Windows NT 4.0 MCSEs expired en masse on 12/31/2001 has as much to do with this phenomenon as any amount of listening to customers and partners might. I helped spearhead an "Open Letter to Microsoft" with the folks at www.examcram.com that advocated this position in March, 2000, and we were by no means alone in asking for the very solution that Microsoft has now adopted. But it's the numbers that have made this position inevitable, since Microsoft has no intention of relinquishing its position as the biggest and most successful of all IT certification programs.

MCP Magazine's report that only "about 47,000" MCSEs currently qualify as "MCSEs on Microsoft Windows 2000" means that it's unlikely that more than 60,000 to 70,000 will achieve that designation by the year's end. To see the numbers of MCSEs drop from nearly 400,000 to under 100,000 would deal a serious blow to Microsoft's position at the top of the certification heap.

But that's not all: Microsoft newly-revised "Discontinuation of Exams" policy states that all exams will have an active life of at least 24 months from here on out. It also states that that any exams planned for discontinuation will be announced as such at least 12 months in advance of the planned discontinuation date. Couple this change with the resuscitation of Windows NT 4.0 certification credentials, Microsoft's announced policy of maintaining Windows 2000 and Windows XP/Server .NET credentials in parallel (meaning that the Windows 2000 exams can't be discontinued until the Windows XP/Server .NET exams are likewise discontinued) and I see the following influences also at work:

  1. Customers have not been as quick to upgrade to Windows 2000 as Microsoft had hoped. Windows NT 4.0 remains very much in use today. Microsoft has decided not to ignore this huge installed base.
  2. Certified professionals have been understandably nervous about upgrading to Windows 2000 exams, only to be forced to upgrade again to a newer version of exams for XP/Server .NET.
  3. With upgrades to Windows 2000 only now seriously underway, the next generation probably won't gain serious momentum until late in 2002 or 2003, if not later.
From all this hoopla, I draw the conclusion that Microsoft wants to protect the value of its certification programs, and that it has decided to officially recognize the slow uptake of its newer workstation and server software in the marketplace. Although late in coming, I see this as a welcome sign of intelligent life in Redmond, and a recognition of the status of its software in IT infrastructures.

Do you see something in these events and announcements that I don't? If so, please e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll be glad to take your comments, suggestions, and criticisms into account.

NOTE: This column was originally written for Issue #65 of the Exam Cram Insider, a free bi-weekly newsletter for the certified professional. Please visit the Website at http://www.examcram.com/insider, and sign up for this newsletter today!
(c)2001, Exam Cram Insider and Coriolis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.


MS Backpedals on NT 4.0 MCSE Decertification

Just after the deadline of our Thursday Issue, MS publicly backed off their policy to revoke the MCSE title from anyone that had not done the W2K track by the end of this year. Just in time Microsoft! But not without MCSEgg on your face. It's been all over the press already.

They will now recognize two separate MCSE titles. If you certified for NT 4.0 Server you will retain your title indefinitely and it will be MCSE for NT 4.0. That's a fair way to handle the issue. If you passed the way more difficult W2K exams you'll be able to sport the formal title of MCSE on Microsoft Windows 2000. This will allow you to charge premium fees. The new approach in two separate tracks is valid for Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) as well.

Microsoft stated that in the past it did retire credentials on older versions of its certifications. "With the increased complexity of IT environments, however, it has become difficult for the company to accurately predict the appropriate timing for such retirements," the company said in a statement.

Pardon my French, but that is PR-BS. They went along and tried to strong-arm all existing MCSE's into upgrading with the threat of losing their credentials. This strategy backfired with a vengeance and alienated a very high percentage of loyal MS users. What they tried to solve was the "Paper MCSE" problem but like in many cases the cure was far worse than the disease. The policy change will not affect the retirement of the 70-240 Win2K Accelerated Exam, which will still happen Dec. 31, 2001. The free voucher for this exam also ends Nov. 1, 2001.

Microsoft finally acknowledged this week that up to now, there are just 47,000 W2K MCSEs. That's around 12 percent of the about 400K total MCSEs. And, they introduced the new title: MCSA just like I suggested in August. This is a good intermediate level that I think a lot of people are going to like. Microsoft Certified System Administrator is something what will also communicate well to Human Resources departments. A new Microsoft exam is being created for this certification track, Exam 70-218, Managing a MS Windows 2000 Network Environment.

I'm glad MS came to their senses. Here are a few good links with more data. First is MCPMagazine:

Second is the MS explanation on their Training and Services Site


Special ISP Offer For W2Knews Subscribers

W2Knews brings you a special deal together with IntNet.net (A national ISP). IntNet.net and W2Knews would like to do our part in assisting our country and helping the victims of New York.

In order to help raise funds, the two companies will donate $2.00 A MONTH for each person who signs up with IntNet.net for dial-up ISP Access. IntNet.net will donate the money to one of four charities which you yourself can pick. They are: The American Red Cross, International Association of Firefighters, September 11th Fund, NY Fraternal of Police WTC Fund.

In addition to the above, the first 100 new customers will receive a FREE patriotic T-shirt. Sign up with IntNet.net today and a portion of your monthly bill will go to help those who need it now. You can securely sign-up on-line. Apart from this offer, Sunbelt has donated 10% of September profits to the American Red Cross. Sign up here:

Did You Know? Sunbelt has a FREE MCSE LIST

Sunbelt Software hosts this list to invite the free and open discussion of MCSE Certification Issues. This list is intended to be a forum to discuss how to obtain Microsoft Certification.

What does that include? Anything you can think of (study methods, tools, scripts, hints & tips, exchange of knowledge and experience, suggestions to solve problems) to get certified.


  • Discuss MCSE related problems and/or challenges, how to, what to, why to, type questions.
  • Discuss third-party MCSE study products, websites, aides, flashcards, etc. and your experiences with them.
  • Discuss new directly Microsoft related certification like Cisco (or other coming platforms)
  • Violate any non-disclosure agreements you have signed.
  • Try to exchange Transcender disks as this violates your license agreement with Transcender and could get Sunbelt in legal hot water.
  • Post large articles to the list, web pages were made for that. Send a link with the URL!
  • Generate noise (off-topic stuff), voice your upset, flame, or make inflammatory remarks. Save that for offline or better yet, do not do it at all.
We allow Vendor involvement in the list. Vendors are requested to not blatantly promote products. Sunbelt reserves the right to now and then make the list aware of a new product as an exchange for the bandwidth we provide. If vendors don't address the issue in a technical fashion their subscription will be revoked. Any participant flaming another will get one warning from the LIST ADMINISTRATOR. The next time their email address and/or domain will be banned from the list.

As you see, this gives you a very wide range of topics to discuss in a professional environment. Sunbelt hopes that the list proves useful to you and your organization. This list has saved a lot of people a lot of time and all of you that are contributing are much appreciated!

TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE LIST (Tell your friends!)

Put Your NT/2000 System On STEROIDS!

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AutoPilot® is being developed by people that come from a supercomputer background and are trained to squeeze the last cycle out of systems. AutoPilot® is an excellent example of a highly sophisticated and advanced neural network that is able to look at the hardware, NT/2000 and the applications running. Then AutoPilot® improves performance in real-time. We also have found that users tell us their systems run more stable.

Ever wondered why NT/2000 systems does not scale like Unix/Risc? Well, successful Unix platforms have hard- and software come from one and the same vendor. In other words, the different flavors of Unix are optimized for their specific hardware. In the case of Microsoft and Intel, it's not that easy. NT/2000 and the Intel Chips are not aware of each other. In short, Microsoft and Intel cannot optimize their respective platforms for each other!

It took a third party like AutoPilot® to get these two together. AutoPilot® looks directly into the Pentium chip and into NT/2000, and matches the two up better than any of them can individually. The results can be pretty good. But pictures say more than words. Have a look at the industry benchmark graph on the website. This was run on a 4-way SMP P6 with 256Meg RAM. Red is the baseline, blue is tuned with AutoPilot®. With 44 clients performance is TWICE as fast.

"Continuing improvements in performance and reliability are key areas of interest for customers. Autopilot® delivers a solution that strives to improve horsepower and throughput by alleviating bottlenecks." said Bob O'Brien lead product manager, BackOffice, Microsoft Corp. You can get a 30-day eval here. Installation is a SNAP!


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • A cool little tool to Backup/Restore network configuration, ideal for admins and mobile users. Free from MS:
  • Microsoft gave Windows Product Activation to Deloitte & Touche Auditors to see if they transmit confidential data. Results:
  • SecureTips. A good site with a bunch of useful hints and tips
  • [Public Service Announcement]: Is your child diagnosed with ADD? You might want to see the video's on this site in that case

    FREE STUDY GUIDES-MCSE Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for Dummies!

    This book of the week concerns the Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam 70-240 and is written by an author who has developed an entire web site dedicated to helping people pass their Windows 2000 exams -- www.ActiveCert.com -- and who has personally trained hundreds of Windows NT/2000 professionals. You can both learn about the book and pick up FREE study guides for the core exams by following the link below. MCSE Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam for Dummies takes a "just the facts, ma'am" approach to providing you with the essential information you need to pass the Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam. It will also tickle your funny bone along the way! Highly recommended.