Hands on with Outlook Live: universities choose Microsoft over Google

Hands on with Outlook Live: universities choose Microsoft over Google

Summary: Universities are increasingly moving away from in-house email and communications systems, and moving towards externally hosted systems. While that may have sounded like utter garbage and geek speak, it means universities can't afford or cope with their own email systems, so they're letting Microsoft and Google do it for them for free.

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Universities are increasingly moving away from in-house email and communications systems, and moving towards externally hosted systems. While that may have sounded like utter garbage and geek speak, it means universities can't afford or cope with their own email systems, so they're letting Microsoft and Google do it for them for free.

For free? Yep. Absolutely free. What to Google and Microsoft get out of it? Very little; if anything it actually causes them to lose money, but it really pisses the other one off by getting an upper hand over the other one.

I've been hounding my contacts at Waggener Edstrom for weeks now in an attempt to gain access to the software, to experience first hand how it works and what students are to benefit from it. My contacts prevailed and yielded a test account.

Google have yet to get back to me with information or details... or a reply for that matter.

Gallery To see an exclusive, hands-on screenshot gallery of Outlook Live through "student-eye view", take a look over here.

You can also see my previous screenshot gallery which was demonstrated by a Microsoft employee, which has a more biased approach in my opinion.

It's important to note, for reasons of bias, Google's rival service, Google Apps Edu, which provides much of the same features including email, calendar, and an online office suite for holding, sharing and storing documents. Personally, I wouldn't mind which one I end up using following the consideration that my own institution, the University of Kent, will be outsourcing 19,000 students' email to either Microsoft or Google.

However, after speaking to the university staff and college IT departments around the world over the last week, because the two services are almost identical in what they offer, the final decision has been the administrative side behind-the-scenes, that of which the students don't see. The installation, configuration and technological bureaucracy seems less with Google than that of Microsoft's email service, with Google's service being "less of a headache short-term", to quote one administrator.

However, recent press announcements from Microsoft say universities worldwide are more likely to select Live@edu instead. Some of these universities include Washington State University, University of Sydney, Australia and Alexandria University, Egypt, with some anticipating saving more than $100,000 for their students across their campuses.

But screw what Microsoft and Google say - their opinions and press releases aren't important. They're not the ones using it at the end of the day.

[poll id="25"]

Topics: Google, Collaboration, Microsoft

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17 comments
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  • nothing is free

    i dont think anything is given out for free. in this case, the gains are recouped later on. once you hook a large institution and student body to a certain technology -- they are greater chances to stick with that technology for a long time.
    darkog
  • already 83% in favor of MS

    65 votes and already it's 83% in favor of MS. I didn't expect that.
    ptcruisergt
  • My university already switched to Outlook Live

    We are in the process of switching this summer, and while I cannot compare it to Google's offering (I haven't used it) I love Outlook Live. I am a grade student, and the online storage space (both the 10GB inbox and 25GB skydrive) are wonderful. On top of that I can share folders on that skydrive with other grad students at our school (we have already done considerable collaboration), or create networks for projects to share information in a secure setting (not chating on Facebook....).

    I am sure it isn't perfect, but I switched from using Outlook (downloading my emails from our old university proprietary system) to solely using Outlook Live, and I wouldn't go back.
    aalhc5@...
    • We switched last year to Live@edu

      Its okay. The online storage is pretty weak. There's a 50mb file size limitation and some file extension restrictions which means I don't bother using it. Remote IMAP access is nice. The Live@edu account doubles as a WindowsLive account for Dreamspark and messenger apps etc.

      I prefer using IMAP in Thunderbird or Live Mail and using OutlookLive when I'm elsewhere.
      snafu_77
  • Google reads your email

    ... and then monetizes over it. Even tho you tell GMail to delete your PRIVATE message, Google wouldn't do it b/c they keep your private message as a part of your social pattern that they can take advantage of in future. "Do no evil" is a joke.
    LBiege
  • Welp we're headed to Google.

    The university where I'm employed is headed to Google though the plan has been put on hold. I know of a large nearby school district that is also headed to Google. I haven't run into any headed towards MS though I've heard talk about the service.
    storm14k
  • Where do your stats come from!?

    There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US.
    After speaking to some IT departments, and a press announcements
    from Microsoft, you arrive at some unsupported conclusions.
    You should have done additional research before your headline.
    The difference between a blogger and a journalist!

    We are switching to Google Apps for Education, and like it.
    Here, the Sites wiki tool is the most popular service besides email, and I
    don't believe MS offers anything comparable. Their Site Designer is not a
    wiki.
    keel
    • Microsoft and Google

      Google declined to state whether anyone was "in the lead" but Microsoft PR gave some private statistics, asked not to publish, which from their end show more universities are signing up to Live@edu rather than Google Apps - even though the numbers are very close.
      zwhittaker
      • Your headline is biased

        You base your headline on Microsoft PR! Ever heard of corporate-
        sponsored surveys that are designed to make a company look good?
        And even their PR even shows the numbers are very close. And from that
        info you write your headline?

        All I can say is wow...
        Can't say I quite believe your disclosure statement.
        keel
        • Fair enough

          Then again, if you take a look at some of my previously written Microsoft posts, I don't always give them such an easy ride...
          zwhittaker
  • RE: Hands on with Outlook Live: universities choose Microsoft over Google

    I had just assumed the headline was a reference to the Microsoft press announcement you mentioned in the article - not a claim that you had data showing Microsoft had signed more schools than Google. I don't think either Microsoft or Google has actually said how many schools are using their products (as most companies don't disclose that kind of thing). So no one can really call a winner.

    I think your headline was fair. I don't see why keel is making such a big deal about it. Maybe he just needs to get laid and calm the F down.
    Jennyfromtheblock
    • wow

      I don't see why keel is making such a big deal about it. Maybe he just needs to get laid and calm the F down.

      with comments like that maybe you need to get f'ing laid and calm down
      richvball44
      • Plus 1 !

        :)
        zwhittaker
  • The good thing aout all of this is that because of Google, educational

    institutions do NOT have to pay for email. What could be better.

    I imagine that he is right and that MS does have a lead though. MS had a huge advantage because they already had a huge presence in most universities, and Google has not been in the email business for very long in comparison.
    DonnieBoy
  • What do you mean they get nothing out of it?

    It's the same reason Adobe doesn't *really* crack down on
    the illegal use of Photoshop. People get used to a piece
    of software and when they make their way to the business
    world, they influence corporate purchases.

    If I'm a company looking to outsource my email hosting
    and know that 80% of new employees were trained or at
    least became familiar with Outlook in college, you better
    bet Outlook looks a bit shinier already.
    ericesque
  • RE: Hands on with Outlook Live: universities choose Microsoft over Google

    You reviewed an MS service with MS IE on MS Windows.
    Isn't that a bit restrictive for students. What about
    Firefox on Linux or Safari on a Mac or something a little
    broader than MS, MS, MS? If my Uni forced MS on its
    students there would be protests!
    zdnetisabitrubbish
  • Hotmail vs Gmail?! Are you kidding me?

    You gotta be kidding me when you said, "...the two services are almost identical in what they offer..." Why do people just eat up whatever these company fed them?! Personally, I haven't ever tried Live because, like this article said, it's based on Hotmail. The main difference between Google and Microsoft is that Hotmail offers SPAM, a lot of SPAM; Google mail, a lot less. That's a major difference in productivity and security.
    billcheng