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A 365-degree change for the better

MARCH 9, 2012
by Chloe Kowalski ’12, Contributing Writer

Furman asked for it. Furman is getting it. What is it? Office 365—farewell FirstClass.

Faculty and students have been complaining about FirstClass for years because of its limited storage capacity and incompatibility with most mobile phones.

“We started investigating alternatives to FirstClass in 2010 and decided on the replacement in October 2011,” said Fred Miller, director of Information Technology Services (ITS).

Google Apps for Education and Zimbra were in the running to replace FirstClass, but Office 365 won out in the end. Released in June 2011, Office 365 is a relatively new program, but it is easy to use and compatible for all types of computers.

Office 365 also includes a number of features that are to come, including Office in the Cloud. This will enable users to access Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint at no additional cost. Also, Microsoft has developed a new program called Link, used for video chatting and conferencing.

Wednesday, March 14 is the big day. Seniors are not required to make the switch since FirstClass will be open through December 12. For the rest of Furman faculty and students, the huge change will take place through a series of small, guided steps.

“The reason we chose to move after Spring Break is because everyone is back and free from the crush of midterms,” Miller explained. “With any kind of change like this, it will take students and faculty some time to get used to it, but ITS will be set up to provide any needed help and support.”

Email addresses will remain unchanged, and all data from existing accounts will convert over.

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