Princeton University’s Office of Information Technology recently polled 150 students who tested Google Apps’ Gmail and Microsoft Office 365 and results showed only two preferred the latter.
According to The Daily Princetonian, the undergraduate student government is collaborating with OIT to move the student body from its current email server Webmail to either Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365.
Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that features several Web application user-interfaces similar to traditional office suites—like Microsoft Office 365. The services vary per edition but generally include Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Sites, Groups, Video, and Marketplace. Its popularity among students and educational institutions is rapidly increasing due to enhanced sharing features, accessibility, and cost.
Google Apps for Education is just one edition that offers 25 GB of storage space per user for free through K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with up to 30,000 users. Forty-million active users currently use Google Apps, and according to US News & World Report, 61 of the Top 100 schools have switched to the educational service.
USG IT Committee Chair Josh Chen said the University’s polled students prefer Gmail due to its “many benefits and no drawbacks.” Meanwhile, U-Councilor Lily Alberts said the poll’s results likely attribute to the student’s prior familiarity with Gmail during pilot testing. The group of 150 students piloted the two options, and those students came from a pool that replied to an earlier campus-wide email.
Chen recommended Google Apps as the default service and Office 365 as a secondary option based on the poll’s consensus. USG, OIT, the Senate, and Chen must conclude, however, whether they will recommend Google Apps. The USG must also decide between Google App’s core applications, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk. It could also provide supplemental applications, such as Blogger, YouTube, and Google+.
The Office of the Provost will approve the final recommendation. Floating scenarios include the University extending Google Apps to all students, Office 365 to all students, making one service the default while presenting the choice to use the alternative, or going with a third unspecified option.
If all goes well, the Class of 2016 will first employ either Google App’s Gmail or Office 365 as its primary server. Other classes will also have the option to switch, but faculty and graduate students would still operate WebMail.
- Many schools abandon Microsoft Office for Google Apps to save money; Google Docs added 100 new features in 2011 (9to5google.com)
- Stanford University moving to Google Apps for entire staff and student-body (9to5google.com)
- Colorado selects Google Apps for Government to save $2M annually (9to5google.com)