Microsoft to replace BlitzMail by Fall 2011
By Katie Gonzalez, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, August 5, 2010
Microsoft Online Services will replace BlitzMail as Dartmouth’s service provider for e-mail, vice president for information technology Ellen Waite-Franzen announced Thursday. College officials hope to fully transition to Microsoft Online Services for e-mail, calendar and collaboration tools by the end of the 2011 calendar year, according to Waite-Franzen, and the transition for students will happen by Fall 2011.
College officials ultimately decided to adopt Microsoft Online Services as the new e-mail provider instead of Google due to Microsoft’s “integration and security” capabilities, Waite-Franzen said. The Communications and Collaboration Tools for Faculty and Students Study Group, a study group chaired by computer science professor David Kotz, presented two alternative proposals — one involving Google and one involving Microsoft — to the administration in May.
“We feel that Microsoft offers the most secure and best-integrated services for the campus,” she said. “It’s a robust solution, and comparing it to Google, there’s more features to [Microsoft].”
The administration and Tuck School of Business currently use the program Microsoft Exchange On-Premises, a factor that contributed to officials’ decision to bring students and faculty under the same system, according to Waite-Franzen.
Students, faculty and staff will participate in a preview of Microsoft Online Services this August and will launch a pilot version of the services this fall, according to the release. Although Computing Services and the library will be the first departments to participate in these pilot trials, students and other campus groups are expected to transition to Microsoft Online Services in “early 2011,” the e-mail said.
The Class of 2011 will not adopt Microsoft Online Services and can continue to use their BlitzMail accounts. The Classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014 will transition their e-mail accounts to Microsoft Online Services during the Summer term and Fall term of 2011. Prospective members of the Class of 2015 will be given accounts with Microsoft Online Services after accepting admission to the College in spring of 2011.
Faculty members will similarly need to transfer their mailboxes to Microsoft Online Services “over a period of time in the second half of 2011,” the release said.
Faculty may choose their own e-mail client, and their options will include Microsoft Online Services, Outlook, Apple Mail or Thunderbird, according to the release.
“The option of forwarding e-mail to Gmail or other e-mail providers will remain in place,” the e-mail said.
Computing Services will continue to support Google users by hosting training sessions within academic departments and with groups of students “shortly before they will be moved into this new environment,” Waite-Franzen said. Staff will also be on site to help students and faculty with any problems they might experience with the new system.
Microsoft Online Services’ calendar system is unable to sync with the Google calendar application, according to an e-mail sent to the Dartmouth Community by Provost Carol Folt on Thursday.
Computing Services will also support Microsoft SharePoint, which has similar applications and functions to Google Docs and has more options for sharing documents than Google tools, Waite-Franzen said.
“The other thing that this will allow students to do is collaborate in the [Microsoft] cloud, so they can work on a paper together and get into the SharePoint services,” she said. “It’s similar, but a little more robust [than Google]. It has different features, like versioning, which is difficult to do in Google.”
BlitzMail nicknames will not be continued under Microsoft Online Services, but a similar feature will be developed under Microsoft’s “alias” program, Waite-Franzen said. Students can pick alternatives to their full name to which other students can send messages.
“For many people, [Blitz nicknames have] been a problem,” she said. “It has been a reason why many people get spam mail or things get routed to the wrong mailboxes.”
Waite-Franzen said that she expects some students will be upset with the termination of BlitzMail.
“There’s a group of students who really love blitz, and there’s no denying that,” Waite-Franzen said. “A lot of students use Gmail for personal accounts, and they really love Google. I’m sure there’s students who will think that this is the wrong decision but we think it’s the right decision.”
Dartmouth alumni will still receive e-mail accounts through the College, and will have the option of forwarding e-mails to independent, private accounts.