Penn Picks Microsoft Over Google For Email
Seventy-eight days after the self-imposed deadline, Penn has chosen Microsoft over Google to replace the aging SAS (School of Arts & Sciences) mail system. The new "Penn Live" offers 2 GB of storage and integration with other Windows Live services. The Wharton School has also adopted the new service, although I'm not sure what's different between "Penn Live" and the already-existing Exchange system.
Many comments left on the Daily Pennsylvanian's site are criticizing the decision to go with Microsoft over Google, but I think anything is better than the system currently in place. As a Wharton student, we've been (relatively) blessed to have Exchange as our backend (I don't know what the College (what we call SAS) is using, but it looks like HoTMaIL circa 1997). Here's some history: coming in as a freshman in 2003, I was afforded with 50 MB of email/storage space. GMail launched with 1 GB in the spring of 2004 and sometime between then and now our quota was raised to 250 MB. For all my time here at Penn, I can't remember a single time that our email servers had gone down. What I do remember is reading in the paper every few weeks about yet another SAS email outage.
I don't have enough experience Windows Live products (which may or may not say enough about the product), but it's got to be better than what the College kids have been using. That said, much of the complaint has been about the choice over the time it took to make that choice. I'm as big a Google/Apple apologist as anyone, but I see the decision to go with Microsoft as a non-issue per se. Again, I'm not sure if Penn Live or the old system provide IMAP access, but I know Wharton provides it. I also know for a fact Google does only POP, so inbox syncing is at the very least equal to the Google solution. Most complaints contend that many Penn students already have Gmail accounts, so why change over? I see this group as a very small minority, as I know people who use their school emails as their main addresses and people who keep school addresses for school matters only.
I trust that Microsoft can do as good or an even better job than Google at providing email and collaboration services to the University (they definitely have more experience with large organizations). My only hope for this is that Windows Live can be truly platform agnostic. I don't have any stats on actual Mac adoption on campus, but from anecdotal and personal evidence I know that it is rising. I just hope Mac and Linux users aren't treated with a second-class experience as is the case with Ruckus.