Students respond to the University’s newest faster e-mail programs

WebMail 3.0 and the new GopherMail offer up-to-date features and a simpler design.

Jeannine Aquino

WebMail Pro, the University’s aging e-mail service, might soon be heading into retirement if the Office of Information Technology has its way.

GopherMail debuted Monday, boasting a faster loading time and an array of new features. The new program joins WebMail 3.0, which was added in January as part of the Office of Information Technology’s efforts to phase out the older and less efficient Pro program.

Mark McCahill, assistant director at the Office of Information Technology, said the way people have used Pro has changed over the past four or five years.

Many don’t use Pro as their secondary e-mail anymore, he said. As a user’s primary e-mail, people potentially could store hundreds of messages in their inboxes.

“WebMail Pro was not designed for that kind of use,” McCahill said.

Brian Hayden, e-mail systems administrator and project leader for the GopherMail project, added that while Pro has been a good program, used since the late 1990s, it has not been able to keep up with today’s heavy e-mail use.

“It was a matter of getting it more up-to-date so the system could handle the more modern load better,” Hayden said. “3.0 and GopherMail are both addressing that.”

McCahill said WebMail 3.0 and GopherMail load faster and put significantly less of a load on the University’s mail servers. Both services also offer a spell-check feature and use a simpler design.

Where GopherMail differs, according to the Office of Information Technology Web site, is that it allows users to view and forward HTML messages as well as save drafts of messages for future revision. Other features include allowing users to forward attachments without first saving it onto the user’s computer and searching the University’s directory to add address-book entries.

The reason the Office of Information Technology offers two new programs, McCahill said, is to give University users options.

“It’s hard to come up with one set of features that absolutely everyone loves,” he said. “We’re hoping the new ones are so enticing that people will try them and like them.”

WebMail Pro’s retirement, McCahill said, will depend on how quickly students migrate to either of the two new options.

First-year marketing student Anthony Zerka already has switched to GopherMail. He said he’s used it since last week after an Office of Information Technology e-mail allowed him to try the program before its widespread release.

“I like it a lot. I think it’s much more organized. It’s easier to use,” he said. “I hated (WebMail) 3.0. I don’t think anybody used it.”

McCahill, however, said about one-third of University users switched to WebMail 3.0 within the first week of its release. This number has remained consistent since then.

First-year nursing student Kirsten Molde is one user who uses WebMail 3.0 exclusively. She said she uses it because Pro stopped working for her in February.

Yet while students such

as Zerka and Molde have adjusted to the other programs, marketing sophomore Allison Bakken continues to use WebMail Pro.

“It’s nice that they have options, but they’re phasing out the one I use,” Bakken said.

She said she would have liked it if the Office of Information Technology had sent a survey asking which program students prefer before making the decision to retire WebMail Pro.

Despite the Office of Information Technology’s efforts to sway students to either of the two newer programs, some students like first-year engineering student John Kosowski do not plan to use any of the three University options.

“I forward my mail to Gmail,” Kosowski said. “Gmail is a lot better than anything the University has.”