Towson to move student email accounts from Google Suite to Microsoft 365

By: Lily Densmore, Contributing Writer

In an effort to increase online security, Towson University will move all student email accounts from the Google Suite to Microsoft 365 by the end of May 2023.

Currently, students can access Microsoft Suite, which includes Word, Excel, OneDrive and PowerPoint, for free using their Towson accounts. Other applications, including OneNote, To Do and Outlook, will become available at the end of the spring semester after the migration is complete for all students, the project outline states. 

“Old Gmail messages can be accessed within Outlook,” the website reads. “Google docs, sheets, and slides will convert over to the Microsoft application equivalents.”

Matt Wynd, director of academic technology and customer service for the Office of Technology Services, said the project will lead to better security for both the students and faculty. 

“We will have more of an ability through the Microsoft system to protect our students as well as our faculty,” Wynd said. 

Since the university already has an existing license, the switch to Microsoft will not cost students any additional money, Change Management Specialist for OTS Emilio Osso said.

Freshman Jonathan Makrodimitris, who studies information technology, said he thinks Microsoft is a better option in terms of security. 

“Google is such a web-based platform which makes it seem very easy to hack, especially because there is no 2-factor authentication,” Makrodimitris said. “Microsoft on the other hand requires a 2-factor authentication every time you try to sign into your account from an unknown device or network and does not have to be web-based.”

To give students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Microsoft suite, there will be three early opt-in dates, the webpage states. 

Students can move to Microsoft beginning Feb. 10 by signing up on the project website before Feb. 5. The second early migration will be March 3, with a sign-up deadline of Feb. 26. The third early migration will be April 7 if students signed up before April 2. 

All other accounts will be automatically moved between May 26-28. Once students’ accounts are switched to Microsoft, whether in an early migration group or by May 28, they cannot go back into their Google account. 

Over 1 million people use Google services and products as of December 2022, according to First Site Guide. Google Sites has the largest customer base with 250.5 million users. 

“I think a lot of people use Google in general for Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc,” Junior Emma Smith said. “I believe Google is definitely best… I think it may create better organization and a better understanding of the technology for people who have already been using it.”

Statista found that over 879,000 American companies were using Microsoft 365 as of June 2022. 

Sophomore Daniel Christ said he uses both Microsoft and Google Suite for his internship and personal account, respectively.  

“I am not that mad about the email switch,” said Christ, a business administration major. “But Outlook Calendar is by far a lesser product to Google Calendar, and being a busy college student, I had my Towson Google Calendar filled and utilized.” 


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