Move to Outlook requires Mac users

Brian Ledtke

After Grand Valley State University began the conversion of the university’s employee email system from Groupwise to Outlook in June, potential difficulties have surfaced for Mac users, who now must update all of their Microsoft Office programs in order to use the new system.

The update could cost independent users about $150.

“We’ve used GroupWise for the past 11 years and it’s served us well; however it’s an older product that’s no longer being enhanced by the vendor and its future is uncertain,” said Bill Fisher, associate director of technical services for GVSU’s Computing and Technology Support.

Fisher said the switch has been a long time coming.

“About a year and a half ago, we established a committee to review replacements for GroupWise, and after lots of review, we decided Microsoft Exchange using Outlook for the client was the best option,” he said. “It’s very feature-rich and the cost is reasonable, since it’s included in our Microsoft campus agreement.”

On the GVSU website, IT has compiled information about the switch for users to utilize, including conversion issues, shared folders, calendars, inbox, tasks and notes created in Groupwise. Share-by-proxy rights with others as well as frequent contacts, however, will have to be recreated in Outlook once the switch is finalized.

Despite those minor obstacles, Fisher said he is confident in Outlook.

“It’s always hard to change email and calendar-ing platforms, because we all spend so much time using them and they all do things a little different,” Fisher said. “Most people really seem to like Outlook once they get used to it, but it does take some time to learn how it works, since it is different from GroupWise.”

Fisher added that there some differences between the Mac and Windows clients, but those differences are minor.

The website also includes a section about frequently asked questions, how to prepare for the conversion, training guides and a list of new Outlook features that GroupWise lacked.

Though there still is the issue of Mac users having to upgrade, Fisher said the change is mainly for faculty and staff and on any GVSU-owned computers, Office 2011 is a free upgrade.

“We recommend that Mac users upgrade to Office 2011 as part of the switch to the new mail system, but they don’t have to,” he said. “Outlook has a nice Web client that they can use and it is compatible with Entourage and other email clients. We feel that in the end, they will have a much better experience if they take the time to switch to the version of Outlook that’s included in Office 2011, so we really encourage it, but we don’t require it.”

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