This much is known for sure: In a bid to put the spotlight on Windows 2000, Microsoft is halting the NT MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) training program, effective from Dec. 31. The company will no longer recognize NT MCSE certification by the close of 2001.
So Lanop stepped in to take up the slack with a new NT program, known as NT Certified Independent Professional (NT-CIP).
Until a few days ago, things looked good for NT-CIP, says Rita Mosley, president of Lanop. She says Lanop was on the verge of signing contracts with two major testing facilities, VUE and Prometric, which had expressed interest in offering the new certification.
Then both potential partners got cold feet. "We were in conversations with both Prometric and VUE," says Mosley. "We were dealing with account representatives and were pretty much down to signing the contracts."
She says Prometric got antsy first. "After indicating initially they'd be willing to go for it, they decided it wasn't a good idea," says Mosley. "Then we concentrated on VUE. They said they'd be happy to do it. We got down to ... literally them sending a contract and us signing it ... and it was all-of-a-sudden silent."
Now, for the conspiracy theory: Microsoft critics suspect the software giant applied pressure behind the scenes to choke off the NT-CIP effort. Microsoft could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for VUE declined to comment about the situation.
Lanop's Mosley stops just short of blaming Microsoft for the situation. A recent Lanop press release states: "We have no reason to think that Microsoft was directly involved in VUE and Prometric halting the setup process, but it seems that sensitivity to Microsoft's wishes may well have been a factor."
Mosley says Lanop is not giving up on NT-CIP. If an established testing center cannot be found to offer the certification, Lanop will do so itself, she vows.
Many MCSEs, meanwhile, are upset about Microsoft's decision to drop its NT certification program. Some MCSEs say their hard-earned certification will become worthless.
"Changing and restricting the MCSE Windows 2000 program is counterproductive because you are alienating a dedicated community of professionals," says Keith Weiskamp, CEO of The Corolis Group, a major certification book publisher. "Many MCSEs who feel that they have invested their careers with Microsoft now also feel that their investments are being seriously and negatively impacted."