MasonLive E-Mail System Goes Live, Adds Storage and Features

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UPDATED 1:46 p.m.

Students dissatisfied with their George Mason University e-mail because of its small quota and limited features have something to look forward to this August.

Already in use by incoming freshman, MasonLive, a brand new e-mail system, is set to launch for all Mason students when they return for the fall semester.
MasonLive, which is powered by Microsoft Outlook Live, provides students with a list of features that the current Mason Enterprise Messaging Online (MEMO) e-mail system lacks. The most significant of these features, to most students, may be the increased storage capacity. Each e-mail account in the new system comes with a quota of 10 gigabytes of storage, compared to the previous 50 megabytes of storage with the MEMO e-mail.
Students also have access to an additional 25 GB of storage through an online storage system called SkyDrive, bringing the grand total of available storage with the new service to about 717 times its predecessor.
Other features that come with the Microsoft service include mobile “anytime access,” access to Windows Live Messenger and access to the online file-sharing Office Live Workspace, a service similar in concept to Google Docs that fully integrates with Microsoft Office. Mason will only manage the e-mail portion of the system.
The transition to the new system has been in progress for over a year now.
 “We received a lot of feedback from the student body regarding the current [MEMO] system and the most common things that people [were dissatisfied with were the] lack of new features, the current web interface and [the] small quota,” said Manager of Enterprise Messaging Tracy Holt. With the previous 50 megabytes of storage, many students had to routinely delete e-mails that contained photos or large files, or otherwise risk going over quota and preventing new e-mail from reaching their inbox.
It was from there that Holt spearheaded a group into finding a more suitable e-mail system for Mason. After formal proposals from big name brands like Microsoft and Google, Holt says Mason signed with Microsoft due to the variety of options that they could provide to the student body. In particular, Mason signed with Microsoft for their innovative technology for the visually impaired that Google lacked, according to Holt.
Come August, all non-freshmen will be able to sign up for MasonLive through an opt-in process, according to Holt. Once a student opts-in for MasonLive, all new mail will be sent to his or her MasonLive account rather than their MEMO e-mail account; however, students will still be able to access their MEMO accounts through at least the end of the fall semester. Holt expects all students to be on the MasonLive system by the end of the fall semester.
“We are allowing an opt-in period at the end of the summer and start of fall for those who want to try [MasonLive] right away,” said Holt. “We realize that many [students] may be busy with school starting up and would prefer to focus on school work the first few weeks of the semester . . . The opt-in period will end late in the fall semester and those who have not yet opted in will have MasonLive accounts created for them and new mail directed to that account. The advertising campaign will give students plenty of notice as to what the dates are.”
However, according to David Robinson, the director of client relations at the Information Technology Unit, Mason faculty and staff will not be moving to the MasonLive system, but will stay with the current MEMO system instead.
"There are no plans for faculty and staff to move onto MasonLive because of the fact that they handle and manage sensitive Mason materials," said Robinson.
However, according to Holt, this does not suggest that the current system is unsafe for students.
“There is no vulnerability with MasonLive accounts,” said Holt. “There are, however, regulations [within] the Commonwealth [of Virginia] regarding employee data being housed outside of the agency systems. Mason legal was consulted and it was their opinion that employee data needed to stay at Mason for now.”
Furthermore, Holt says that at the time Microsoft and Mason signed their contract, only students and alumni were to get free accounts, and faculty and staff had to pay for the service.
Once a student’s MasonLive account is activated, his or her e-mail will be their NetID followed by Students will be able to log into their e-mail account through, where tutorials and frequently asked questions explain how the new system works and offer step-by-step instructions on how to activate an account.
As for students moving onto the system, Robinson says that he has seen great enthusiasm.
“We actually did a focus group with students and they really loved it," said Robinson. “They were excited. We haven’t encountered any reluctance.”
As to why students are so excited, Robinson says, “There is a lot more storage space. It connects to social networking, something that [students] are really use to. It is possible to share documents online with MasonLive. There is live chat, and there are a lot of different features. It connects anywhere.”



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