The Google Apps runs in more browsers than our current system. It also lets you use all the other Google Apps, which go far beyond email and calendar. There are too many of them to list on this page, but here are some highlights:
- Google Docs lets you create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that also work in Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. You can control who can see them, and who can edit them. Several people can even work the same document at once, like a sort of online whiteboard, only better. If you have a lot of documents, just set up folders; not only does it keep things organized, but you can also set security options on folders so you don’t have to do that on every document. You can even translate your documents into any of over 50 languages.
- Google Sites lets you easily create websites without having to write any HTML code. The pages are hosted on Google’s webservers, and can include many Google features and gadgets.
- Google Talk is a chat program that works with both text and voice, and even includes live video if you want it. You can chat with any Google Apps user, and even people on AIM. Text chats are automatically saved, and you can search them if you need to remember what someone said.
- Google Groups gives you discussion groups and mailing lists.
- And many more… Blog with Blogger. Get news and blog updates with Reader. Draw in 3D with SketchUp. Edit photos online with Picnik. Get online voicemail with Voice and have it transcribed into text.
Now, we’re all aware that transitions like this are never perfect. University Computing Services will be working hard to make the change as smooth as possible, and to quickly solve problems if and when they do appear. UCS employees have already been using Google Apps, and we will set up another group of about fifty people from various departments in the third week of February. By the end of March, we hope to have Google Apps accounts created for everyone.
You can take your time, though, and continue to use the WOU email server even after your Google Apps account is set up. At some point in the future our current mail server will go away, but until then you can choose when to start getting messages at Gmail. Once you’ve opted in to Gmail, your mail will be available both there and on the WOU server so you can take your time with the transition.
In the next month, we will hold at least two lunchtime forums for anyone who has questions. These web pages will be expanded to give you more information, both technical and non-technical. Google itself has handled many of these transitions and has many helpful resources as well. Stay tuned for emails and watch the video news displays for more updates!