Summarizing Microsoft's Official Word on XP and Server.NET
The best source of official information about the impact of new releases on Microsoft certifications appears on the Microsoft Web site. It's in the document "Frequently Asked Questions About MCSE," in the section "Frequently Asked Questions About Windows XP Professional and Server.NET Exams." This sounds pretty promising and indeed offers lots of useful information, including the following items:
Microsoft intends to integrate Windows XP Professional and Server.NET exams into the MCSE (and other Microsoft) certifications(s).
The Windows XP Professional exam will be released in Q4 2002, with Server.NET exams to follow in 2002. Further details on exams, including objectives, should be made available in August 2001.
Microsoft anticipates no need for major infrastructure changes if organizations decide to deploy Windows XP Professional alongside Windows 2000 Professional or to replace Windows 2000 products with their next-generation equivalents.
Any current Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, or Server.NET exam will qualify its taker as an MCP (except for the free exam 70-240 that's available only to those who've taken and passed 70-067, 70-068, and 70-073, the so-called Accelerated Windows 2000 exam).
Current MCPs, MCSEs, MCDBAs, and candidates currently pursuing Windows certification will not be required to pass Windows XP Professional or Whistler Server exams to retain their certifications. In fact, Microsoft stresses that Windows 2000 exams will remain concurrently available with those for Windows XP Professional and Server.NET.
Candidates can mix and match both Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional or Server.NET exams when pursuing Microsoft certifications, and it will not affect the lifetime of their certification overall (the Web page says that candidates "will remain certified for the same duration.")
Microsoft is already starting to mention the code name for the release after next, Blackcomb, in referring to factors that will dictate the retirement of current Windows 2000 and planned Windows XP Professional and Server.NET exams.
Microsoft advises certified professionals seeking to upgrade their credentials against skipping Windows 2000 exams in favor of waiting for Windows XP Professional and Server.NET exams, primarily because old credentials will expire on December 31, 2001, and the Server.NET exams won't even be available until some time next year. In fact, in two related Q&As on the FAQ, Microsoft advises individuals to obtain experience on Windows 2000 because it will be relevant to the new releases and to the networks and services that they will be expected to install, configure, and maintain.
There's a bit more in the Microsoft original than we have space to digest for you here, but we've summarized all the main points for easy access. We would have liked to see more pointed commentary about other Microsoft certifications as well, so this is the point at which our reporting changes from coverage of explicit Microsoft statements to speculation about what the future might bring for other Microsoft certifications.