UF’s Webmail will soon be a thing of the past thanks to a cloud-based service by Microsoft Office 365.
Although there is no set date, UF Information Technology hopes to begin early sign up for students by mid-July.
The new service will include email, 25 GB of mailbox storage, an integrated calendar and access to UF’s global email address list of students and faculty.
Reducing the university’s carbon footprint and electricity bill as well as providing more storage and portability for students and faculty are among the many reasons UF is making the switch to the cloud, said Tracy Gale, UFIT communications manager.
“The way that email is set up here — there are dozens of email services — so the time to manage that and the software needed — it is labor intensive,” she said.
By the start of the Fall semester, Microsoft SharePoint will become available, she said. It’s a program that allows many people to work on and edit a project without being in the same room.
Because the entire service is Internet-based, there will be no need to move projects from one device to another.
“The new system not only simplifies the labor and staff time needed, it also is kind of like a one-stop shop that allows for better services and more services for students,” she said.
Microsoft Lync, an instant message service, will also be available later in the Fall. Students and faculty will be able to talk and video chat with peers or professors.
Microsoft SkyDrive Cloud storage and browser-based versions of Microsoft Office are other features that will be available afterward.
“I think this new email service will be much better,” said Alex Gomez, a 20-year-old UF economics and Spanish junior. “It sounds cool, and I definitely plan on signing up as soon as it’s available.”
The goal is to move about 2,000 students per week to the new email service, Gale said.
Students will have the option to sign up for the service until Summer 2014, which is when Webmail will be retired, and everyone will be moved to the new service. Email addresses will be the same, and everything in Webmail will be transferred to the new system.
“Our Webmail is not the best,” said Will Hsiung, an 18-year-old UF neurobiological sciences sophomore. “It crashes very quickly, and it’s very hard to access, so this upgrade will probably make it easier to communicate and to collaborate.”