‘What is the purpose?’: Why students emails will transition to Microsoft Outlook

The switch will provide a more secure network and a smoother transition to the workforce, UA says.

Ellie Taube, Contributing Writer

UA’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) is transitioning all UA student emails from Google to Microsoft Outlook on May 7 thru May 9. 

According to OIT’s announcement, all email addresses and passwords will remain the same and the process will be conducted entirely by the University. 

The office advises students to familiarize themselves with Outlook prior to the move by utilizing the tutorials available on their site. 

Once the migration is complete, the new email is accessible through outlook.office.com and the Outlook app, which is available on phones and desktops. 

While many students are still unaware of the impending switch, others express a preference for Google and an overall sense of confusion.

“I don’t really know why [we’re switching], so it feels very unnecessary,” said Liana Taylor, a junior majoring in biology. 

In addition to feeling uncertain about why the email change is happening, some students would just rather not start using Outlook instead. 

JC Perry, a freshman biology major, said he prefers Gmail purely because of the comfort it gives. 

Some, like Taylor, even fear that the switch will erase all the current documents they keep under their Google account. 

However, according to OIT, students will still be able to access their Google drive and other relevant applications. If a student wants to transition their materials to Outlook, they can do so through the G-suite or Google Takeout, but this is not required. 

Aside from how students access their email, not that much is ultimately changing, except for increased access to certain benefits of the Outlook application. However, this makes the decision to change email applications even more confusing for some students.

“Why are we changing it if nothing is really changing?” said Addison Parker, a freshman majoring in creative media. “What is the purpose?” 

The OIT said in their announcement that they made the move for stronger cyber security because “with Crimson email in the Microsoft cloud, OIT’s security team will have better ability to block malicious activity, preventing a greater number of phishing emails from reaching student inboxes.”

According to their announcement, the biggest perk is “full functionality with Microsoft Teams.” Within Microsoft Teams students can hold meetings like Zoom, with the added bonuses of making groups and creating chats outside of virtual meetings.

Another main motivation for making the switch is to introduce the platform to students before entering the workforce. Email is the main form of communication in most companies, and the Outlook application makes the use of email easy and more efficient.

One data collection website suggests 195,801 companies in the United States utilize Microsoft Outlook, including SpaceX. In comparison, the same website found 4,369 companies using Gmail.

According to Meagan Bennett, the director of customer relations for the OIT, their office suggested making this migration based on student’s experiences using Office 365 in their professional internships.

“Mississippi State had a good experience with the transition,” Bennett said. “[We] only wanted to do it if students were interested.”

Other universities to make this transition include Duke University, Emory University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Iowa and the University of Washington. 

After speaking with their board of students, the OIT brought the idea to SGA. 

Bennett said following the transition, there will be a more “cohesive directory” as well, since the University currently uses multiple email environment’s including Office 365 for faculty and Gmail for students.

While Bennett said she recognizes the feeling of familiarity students have with Gmail, she firmly believes that “being able to use 365 tools made sense for the University, from a technological and student perspective.”

“We feel students will have an advantage entering the professional world because they will become more used to [Office 365],” she said.