Facing mounting demand from faculty and students to modernize its e-mail system, the University has launched a new e-mail client that features a modern design and more options for users.

Alan Levy, a spokesman for Information Technology Central Services, said the new system called “Maize” was developed “based on extensive feedback that we received over the last year or so over the old e-mail interface.”

“We identified things that users were interested in, such as a cleaner, more modern interface, which is what the new webmail provides,” Levy said.

With the new Maize system, ITCS hoped to make the new client include more modern graphics and icons, said Mark Montague, manager of ITCS’s Web and Database Production unit.

The new system provides new features including a “drag and drop” message component, which enables users to click on any e-mail message and drag it into the folders which are listed on the left side of the page. The new folder listing feature also allows for easier accessibility to the user’s folders, which are displayed more prominently on the site.

Levy said that the previous e-mail system, now called “Blue,” will remain available to users.

“The old one is not going away,” Levy said. “Students, faculty and staff have different preferences….We are keeping both e-mail interfaces in recognition that many users like different features.”

Montague said ITCS evaluated all the possible products available, both commercial and open source, when looking for a new system to use at the University.

He said that after assessing the different systems available, ITCS decided to base its new system off a program called the RoundCube Webmail Project. ITCS then customized the system to fit the needs of the University, a process that mainly took place between June and September.

RoundCube is an open source, meaning that it is the coding is publicly available at no cost. Universities, in particular, are interested in using open source because it is less expensive and open to customization, Levy said.

Levy said ITCS has received about 200 e-mails with feedback from University students and staff, most of them positive.

“Users will see over time some continuing enhancements that will make the interface even more functional,” Levy said.

While Maize was met with mixed feelings from the student body, most said it had an edge on the Blue system.

LSA junior Sarah Barjum, who uses the new system as her primary e-mail, said, “There are still some flaws that it has, but it’s better than the old one.”

Some students said they liked the client’s new appearance.

“It does look a lot better,” LSA freshman Travis Washington said. “It’s way more improved.”

Levy said ITCS strongly encourages feedback on the new Maize system. Any suggestions or comments for ITCS regarding the new system can be sent to webmail.umich.edu.

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