Outlook: Can we see some Live@edu integration please?

Desktop clients such as Outlook and Thunderbird are not fully compatible with next-generation email services like Google Apps and Live@edu. Solution? Don't use them.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

With the wide availability of web mail, and the surge in Google Apps for Education and especially Microsoft's Live@edu service, applications such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail for Mac and suchlike are rendered useless to non-email features.

I'll admit first off that I'm a hypocrite when I write this, as I use desktop email in the form of Outlook 2010. I have one main email account with my university which acts as not only student correspondence, my credentials for Moodle but also for CBS and ZDNet email too. I shouldn't, but it's quite a nice email address.


The big thing here is the aforementioned outsourced services. With both Google Apps and Live@edu being provided for free, whichever one universities may choose, it's almost inevitable that the vast majority of institutions around the world will eventually sign up. In-house email services are expensive to maintain and inefficient in the long run, so institutions are being given a golden ticket with this.

But Google Apps and Live@edu are not just email services. Though they have this as their major feature, they offer services such as calendars, instant messaging, group email lists, user presence and a whole plethora of other stuff which is not compatible with Outlook. I say Outlook because Google doesn't have a dedicated desktop email client, and seeing as most universities are going to Microsoft's Live@edu service, Outlook should be most likely to work with these features.

But it's not.

Maybe further on down the line, we could expect to see some form of Outlook add-in, their so-called Connectors, which allows other services to draw in information from other networks such as LinkedIn, Hotmail and soon to be Facebook.

Even though the instant messaging features included in Live@edu allows users to communicate with other students not only through the web interface but also Windows Live Messenger, having one browser open in Live@edu with access to instant messaging and email is more efficient than having two desktop applications running for two separate things.

So for now, even though Google Apps and Live@edu are two brilliant services which offer pretty much the same thing, but with a user interface preference down to the institutions, the desktop email market is not ready to accommodate all the features of these two services.

That is why, in my opinion, web mail access is good enough for now. Do you agree?

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