Office 365 transition offers new features

Rachel Konieczny, Rocket Contributor
April 17, 2014

Slippery Rock University is undergoing a big change in e-mail operating systems with the transition to Microsoft Office 365 that began on April 1. 

Dr. John Ziegler, Associate Provost of Information and Administrative Technology Services (IATS) and Henry Magusiak, Director of Enterprise Applications within IATS, are both involved in the switch and excited for the new features to be available to students by the end of the month. It is their hope that students will see many advantages with the system, specifically with mobile devices and the system’s storage capacity. 

“Office 365 is becoming a standard communication structure for many institutions and businesses worldwide,” Ziegler explained. “While we already used Microsoft Exchange on campus, this is now hosted in the cloud. This is the next step in the progression of Microsoft products.” 

Zeilger said Microsoft Office 365 is expected to give the student 25 GB of storage across the platform, increased accessibility from mobile devices, frequent updates to enhance user experience, built-in anti-spam message filtering, increased security. 

Features also include the ability to access from any device using a browser edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using the Office Online feature, outstanding reliability, and the ability to share and store files through OneDrive technology, among other benefits. 

“Ideally, summer would be a great time to make this switch, but people typically don’t use their email as much in the summer, and students are in various stages of using these services,” Ziegler commented. “During the semester, we are able to take care of requests in a timely manner. Currently, we experience less than 10 calls per day. It is a better user experience for the student if the switch is made during the school year.” 

According to Magusiak, 4,000 mailboxes have already been set-up, with the transition being fairly smooth, and no major issues surfacing. 

Daniel Petrelli, a freshman marketing and environment and society double major, expressed his views on the switch. 

“I don’t mind if it is something new. Once I’m used to it, it’ll come naturally,” Petrelli said.

As Slippery Rock University has used Microsoft products in the past, the infrastructure was in place to move to the Office 365 system as well as licensing from the Pa. State System of Higer Education. 

Zeigler explained a major difference between the current Microsoft Exchange system and the new Office 365 is the ability for programs to be hosted in the cloud,  a collective network of information. Other differences include the increase in storage capacity, compatibility with mobile devices, and use of office applications. 

Ziegler and Magusiak are hopeful about the switch for students and faculty. 

“The storage and sharing features are key to the program, as well as the potential for the office applications,” Ziegler said. “As we hopefully work towards moving the faculty and staff into the same service, we will all benefit from those features.”

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