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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC to replace Webmail with HeelMail

New Microsoft chosen over Gmail

A major change is in store for the University’s e-mail system, one that administrators hope will make e-mail easier for students and staff — and save UNC money.

Beginning in April, the University will begin transitioning from its Webmail service to HeelMail, which Microsoft’s Live@edu platform will provide free of charge.

“In the long run, this will be saving money,” said Max Beckman-Harned, co-chairman of the technology and web services committee of student government. “Our current e-mail is so simple because we don’t have the staff or money of Microsoft to develop and add complicated features.”

The change will be mandatory for students starting in August, with e-mail addresses being changed to the student’s Onyen followed by “@live.unc.edu.”

Microsoft, which is offering the service for free for promotional purposes, also supports the e-mail services at Ohio State University, UNC-Charlotte, Vanderbilt University and University of Washington, among several others.

Michael Barker, assistant vice chancellor for infrastructure and operations, said the new system offers a more modern display while providing students increased mail space and unique calendar usage.

“The new system has significantly improved web-interface and larger mail quota while getting individual and group calendar usage,” Barker said. “HeelMail will be able to operate with local UNC Exchange service and will be more like what students will be using when they enter the work force.”

Barker added that student government and the student technical advisory board, along with Information Technology Services, finally decided on the new e-mail system after a debate that included the proposal of Gmail.

“We considered Google very seriously, but Microsoft’s offer came out ahead because of its more compelling set of features,” he said.

“For our set of requirements and what features we’re looking for, and considering the other systems we have delivered on campus, this one fit the best,” Barker added.

The new e-mail system would replace Webmail web applications, mailbox delivery and message storage capabilities, Barker said.

But he said the change will not be problem-free.

“While the new e-mail system will reduce costs, the expense we will have is ongoing maintenance and operational burden,” Barker said.

While students will be using the Microsoft-sponsored HeelMail, faculty and staff have already begun to use Exchange, which is still managed by ITS, Barker said.

Ian Lee, student body secretary, said HeelMail will not be the same for both students and faculty.

“Faculty mail is more regulated and has a higher threshold for operations,” he said.

Barker said he anticipates some transitional issues, as is the case with all changes to University systems.

“Change is always a challenge and we’re changing the way we deliver,” he said. “People will have to learn the new interface, but it’s just mail after all.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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