Summing Up on MCSA and MCSE
Essentially, where the MCSE also includes a planning and design requirement (in exams 70-219, 70-220, 70-221, and 70-226) along with two electives, the MCSA includes a network management requirement (in exams 70-218 and 70-278) and a single elective. The inclusion of the new network management exams 70-218 and 70-278 also puts its focus squarely on operations and day-to-day administration, rather than on more advanced topics.
Overall, the mix of exams required for the new MCSA certification is a pretty good one. It should appeal to a broader audience than the MCSE on Windows 2000, at least in part because the lower number of exams makes it faster (if not also easier) to attain. I'm guessing that the retention of NT 4.0 certifications will take the pressure off some individuals to upgrade their credentials to the MCSE on Windows 2000, and that many will opt for this lesser credential instead. Likewise, first-time candidates can treat the MCSA either as a resting place prior to completing an MCSE, or they can set their sights on the MCSA without necessarily following through to obtain an MCSE.
It will be interesting to see how the new MCSA certification and the changes to the MCSE program play out in the marketplace. I for one welcome the increased number of options, and the reckoning with customer needs, that these new developments represent.