What This Means to You
If you're updating your MCSE or pursuing that credential for the first time, this information gives you some potential food for thought:
If you need to update your credentials by 12/31/2001, for whatever reason, don't let this distract you. Keep your head down, keep studying, and stick with the basic Windows 2000 curriculum.
If you're wondering whether to go the Windows 2000 route or wait for Windows XP Professional/.NET Server, don't spend too much time wondering unless you are under no particular time pressure to get certified. My guess is that it will be impossible to certify completely under the new regime before the middle of 2002, perhaps as late as the end of the third quarter 2002.
If you're curious about Windows XP Professional or .NET Server, you'll be able to translate that curiosity into the pursuit of one or more exams in those topic areas. Just don't wait around for that opportunity unnecessarily. You can always take an "extra" exam later on, if you're dying to know what the new exams will cover.
On the other hand, if you're partway toward an MCSE or an MCSD, the upcoming intermediate certifications will certainly give you a natural place to pause en route to obtaining those certifications. In many cases, I think individuals and companies alike are going to be willing to settle for MCSA's instead of MCSE's, particularly for system and network administrator positions in which the emphasis is on day-to-day operations and maintenance, rather than on more advanced design or planning work (where the MCSE remains the most relevant credential).
Of course, when it comes to second-guessing Microsoft, there's always plenty of room for error. I'm reasonably sure about all the outlines of what I've presented to you here, but I'm sure we'll all be interested in seeing the nit-picky details fleshed out. Hopefully, all my guesses will have turned into firm Microsoft plans before the year is out. In the meantime, I'd be happy to respond to any comments, questions, or suggestions about this topic that you might have. Simply post a Discussion to this article (there are links at the top and bottom of this page) or reply to an existing Discussion.