Cross talk on MCSEs

When I reported that Microsoft will purge the majority of MCSEs on January 1, 2002, with a new Windows 2000 requirement, it set off a firestorm of comments.

When I reported that Microsoft will purge the majority of MCSEs (Microsoft certified systems engineers) on January 1, 2002, with a new Windows 2000 requirement (
The missing MCSEs), it set off a firestorm of comments.

Some readers doubted that a reduction in MCSEs -- from 400,000 worldwide today to fewer than half of that next year -- would change the ability of companies to find qualified support.

"Just because Microsoft changed the rules, does that mean that those folks who were MCSEs now suddenly don't know what they're doing?" asks reader Mike Malik. "Suppose that 'Big College' changes the MBA program to take into account the newest management trends. Does that mean if I had the old MBA degree I now know nothing?"

Others, however, agreed with me that many businesses look for the MCSE as a credential.

"There are certainly companies that stupidly and blindly rely on Microsoft's definition of trained and qualified skills," writes reader David Schaller. "These same companies should probably lay off anybody they have who loses their certification, regardless of the proven ability of those same people. Then, and only then, would there be an inability to get support, and it's their own fault."

Several readers said the value of a MCSE had been diminished by minimal standards.

"The NT 4.0 exams, often studied for in standard, commercial five-day courses, resulted in techs and network admins who know how to do their common day-to-day admin tasks, but who did 'exam crams' to pass everything else," asserts Andrew Johnson, marketing manager at Trike Technologies, an MCSE training business in New Zealand.

He feels a drastic reduction is a good idea. "Unfortunately, while the glut of NT 4.0 MCSEs remains, some of our top Windows 2000 MCSE graduates are being forced into low-end help desk jobs. Industry does not recognise their skills and talents, as expectations have been set too low by the poor quality of many NT 4.0 MCSEs," he says.

Some MCSEs seconded that, saying they're disillusioned. "Microsoft's tests have historically been tests of English skills instead of technical tests," claims Brent Stewart.

"I've chosen to pursue a CCIE [Cisco certified internetwork expert] instead of renewing my MCSE, so I guess I'll be one of those MCSEs dropping off the rolls." The average applicant takes the CCIE test three times before passing, making it an honour worth having.

Finally, the loss of certified professionals was seen by many as risky for the software giant. "Wouldn't it be interesting to watch Microsoft cut its own nose off?" says Tim Hungerford. "Sure, lose half your partners, see what happens to sales then."

I'm open to more comments as this saga unfolds. Meanwhile, a free copy of Windows Me Secrets goes out to those whose remarks I printed.

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows Me Secrets (Hungry Minds). Send tips to

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