Bowdoin's new e-mail system is packed with features. Microsoft Outlook/Entourage includes a scheduling system, a pre-loaded college directory, and a calendar of campus events. There's only one problem: Many students either don't want to use them, or they don't know how.

Ted Power '07 said that the new e-mail system did not seem to be designed for students. He cited the calendar and meeting maker systems as features that would be useful for a small business, but not for college students.

Power was also disappointed that the new e-mail system did not include a search option. While acknowledging that Outlook/Entourage gave students more storage space, he said that without the search option, the switch from Webmail was "not worth it."

Joho Strom '09, who works at the Information Technology Student Helpdesk, said that the new system does not work equally well on all Internet browsers. He noted that the e-mail search option is only available on Internet Explorer, and not accessible at all on Apple computers.

Strom also said that the new system does not allow students to manually forward their e-mail from Outlook/Entourage to another e-mail provider; IT must make the switch for them.

"It's unfortunate that the College chose to endorse a product that is not platform- or browser-independent," he said.

Certain features of the program do not work in the popular Mozilla Firefox browser.

Mitch Davis, chief information officer, said that he was aware of students' concerns. He acknowledged that the e-mail's Web client does not function as well on Apple computers, but said that a new update later this year would resolve the problem.

Davis added that the new system was "an imperfect foundation," and admitted that the switch to Outlook/Entourage was "a relatively painless but unsuccessful upgrade in the sense that it didn't deliver solutions to both platforms."

Davis pointed out that despite the problems with various Internet browsers and Apple computers, the transition from the old Webmail to Outlook/Entourage was remarkably smooth.

He added that IT successfully transferred 16 million e-mail files to the new system, and that students seemed to need minimal support to use Outlook/Entourage. According to Davis, the new e-mail system cost about $20,000, including labor.

Nick Selden '09 said that there were many features of the new system that he did not know how to use and was disappointed that he could not delete multiple emails at once.

Steven Kolberg '09 agreed.

"There is no select-all for deleting messages," he said.

Ben Lake '07 said that he found the new system "more complicated than the old one, and it seems to be fraught with more problems."

Kariyushi Rao '07 said that the system has too many unnecessary features.

"The calendar options are superfluous," she said.

Copley Huston '10 said that she does not use the calendar at all.

Students did report that the transition to the new system was well-executed.

"Generally, it seemed like a pretty smooth transition for me," said Eric Volpe '08.

Strom also acknowledged that IT had done "a good job at making the transition smooth for those who use the e-mail system."

Davis said that within the next month, Bowdoin would introduce an alternate e-mail system, a Bowdoin-branded version of Gmail. Davis said that a Bowdoin-Gmail account would allow students to have even more storage space, as well as a lifelong Bowdoin email address. According to Davis, about 435 students already forward their mail out of Outlook/Entourage, many of those to Gmail.

Power has been involved with the Bowdoin-Gmail process. He said that the system will be easy to set up, and students will be able to have their Bowdoin e-mail forwarded automatically to their Bowdoin-Gmail account if they desire.

Davis said that he is "trying to find the best way to deliver e-mail to students so that they have options," and that the Bowdoin-Gmail idea was a student suggestion.