“Email 30 years ago was something universities had when no one else did, but that’s not the case anymore,” said Robert Cook, U of T’s Chief Information Officer at a meeting last Friday. “We found out the generic services [of the UTORMail email] weren’t up to speed.”
At the meeting, which took place on February 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers, changes to the email system were discussed.
Changes will include a larger quota (currently 100MB, changed to 10GB), a larger attachment size (currently 2MB, changed to 25MB), more storage space (currently 50MB, changed to 25GB), and a modern user interface similar to that of current consumer offerings such as Hotmail and Gmail.
New additions to the email service will include email search capabilities, instant messaging (similar to Skype), online scheduling functions, online productivity tools (including Microsoft Word, Power Point, OneNote, and Excel), more uptime, and a collaborative workspace (SkyDrive) which will allow students to share files and work on projects together. The online applications will allow students to do online document editing in the cloud without downloading and re-uploading files.
The new email system for the university will continue to use UTORid access, similar to the current login page. If chosen, Microsoft will work only as the host, and will not have students’ passwords. The email system will contain no advertisements, will have better security, and will come at a lower cost. The change to the email will not affect student fees.
“The most critical thing is that no money will come out of student fees. We’re confident it’ll cost us less than we’re currently paying,” said Cook.
The system will also have multiple browser capabilities, meaning that most features will be available on smartphones as well as Macs and PCs.
The current email addresses, @utoronto.ca, will change to @mail.utoronto.ca. The plan is to transfer all emails over to the new accounts so nothing gets lost. Tips and tutorials, as well as training videos and training sessions, will be available to students once the new system is much into motion. Currently, contracts are still being discussed.
A pilot of the new system is being pushed for the summer so students can take the time to learn the new system. For graduating students, plans are being discussed to create an option when ordering their cap and gown, where graduates would choose to delete their email or forward their emails to an alumni account.
Universities who have previously switched over from their email systems to outsourced systems have received good feedback from students because students are used to the popular consumer interface.
For more information about the changes to the university’s email system, students are asked to visit email.utoronto.ca, which will be updated as more progress is done towards making the change. Students can leave their feedback, questions, or concerns on the feedback page. They can do this anonymously or enter their name and email address to receive a reply. All questions will be added to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.