Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has been selected to provide the University of Texas-Pan American’s student body of 17,000 with free e-mail accounts, Reuters reports.
Gary Wiggins, the university’s vice president for information technology, told Reuters that the new e-mail system was welcomed by the students because of the old system’s limited storage and lack of features, as well as the fact that the new addresses could still end in utpa.edu.
“The legacy system we were moving from was so bad that the new features were very well accepted,” he told Reuters.
The software giant, which began the Windows Live @ edu project nearly one year ago, has already inked deals with 72 major institutions across the globe to provide e-mail systems, and it’s in the process of securing nearly 200 more colleges and universities, according to Reuters.
The company is attempting to use school campuses to promote its Windows Live platform, an ad-based site that will be home to all of Microsoft’s Web services, including e-mail and search.
Walter Harp, a Microsoft senior product manager in charge of the Windows Live @ edu initiative, told Reuters, “Our communication assets [e-mail, MSN Messenger] are one great way to add new people onto our network and establish lifetime loyalty.”
The way Microsoft sees it, the more students it can recruit to use its services, the better, because some of those people will become used to, or even dependent on, their products, especially if those students are allowed to continue using their accounts after graduation.
“There’s continuity even if they move to a new community,” said Blake Irving, a Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of Windows Live technical operations, according to Reuters. “This will follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Microsoft has said it won’t serve up ads within the e-mail system until students graduate, Reuters reports.
To date, the company has dedicated less than $1 million to the project, and the majority of infrastructure and development efforts are complete, according to Reuters.
“One of the reasons why the program works so well for us is that we are riding the coattails of things that are already being built,” Harp said, according to Reuters. “Incremental cost is essentially zero.”
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