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The Microsoft Mail Migration in CERN

  Per Hagen (with the Mail Service Team) IT/DIS

Why we must migrate away from Microsoft Mail:

Microsoft Mail is not certified to work in year 2000 and beyond!

For some time the need to replace Microsoft Mail with a more modern tool has been discussed. The Desktop Forum approved in October 1998 a plan to migrate all the Microsoft Mail users to the central Mail Services. This must take place before the end of September 1999 when the Microsoft Mail Service will be stopped.

There are in addition several issues with the aging MS Mail:

  • No support from Microsoft since 1994.
  • No external access (home, elsewhere).
  • Makes Windows unstable (old 16-bits application).
  • No backup if MS Mail client running during night.
  • Impossible to do incremental backup (requires very large tape capacity).
  • Bugs and limitations with gateway to Internet.
  • Poor Internet mail integration.
  • No auto-forwarding possibility.
  • Central Mail Service

    A central Mail Service has been built up during the last years. This service has as its goal to serve all e-mail users in CERN. The QuickMail and AFS users have already been migrated to this service. The VMS mail users are migrating to it as well.

    The improvements for the MS Mail users are the following:

    Mail Client

    You need a mail client in order to access and store e-mails on the Mail Server. Netscape 4 is the recommended and supported mail client. It is integrated with the NICE application support and pre-configured  for  you ("ready-to-use"). It  is also the standard Web-browser for all platforms in CERN. The Mail Server is accessible from outside CERN. You will therefore have access to all your e-mails from anywhere on the Internet provided you have a properly configured mail  client or Telnet.

    You find it in the NICE Start menu - Applications - Connect to mail server.


    There is a half-day's training course available paid by central funding. This is basically the same scheme as what was offered during the QuickMail migration. You subscribe to this course by using the Web. You can either navigate the Web from the CERN home page or more directly via the Web page For the English version (click on the English flag), follow the links:

    Office Automation and Administrative Techniques
    and in section "Email",Introduction to Netscape Mail

    N.B. The same recipe can be applied to register to the French course "Introduction à Netscape Mail".

    You need to know your EDH user name and password to register online. Otherwise you can also contact your Divisional Training Officer (DTO) .

    When to migrate

    Migration will be done division by division. You will be contacted by e-mail before the migration takes place. You should wait until you receive such an e-mail before you take action unless you have an urgent need for being migrated (such as access to e-mail from outside CERN or leaving the organisation for an extended period)

    What do to before migration

    Delete e-mails you are sure you no longer need. In particular check the folders Inbox and Sent mail. On the other hand, do not delete e-mails which are valuable for you! In particular do not attempt to archive valuable e-mails by saving them as Microsoft Message files (.mmf). When the Microsoft mail service stops, and in any case after year 2000 it will no longer be possible to read these e-mails. The reason is that Microsoft Mail is using an encrypted format which we cannot decode!

    Whom to contact

    Contact your divisional coordinator. These are normally the same persons that give you PC desktop support in your division. If you have any doubt, contact

    What happens during the migration

    When your Microsoft mailbox is deleted your address is also removed from the Microsoft Global Address list the following night (GAL). Until this happens other Microsoft Mail users might continue to send you e-mails. Other people who send e-mails to your Microsoft mailbox after it has been deleted will receive an error message, although somewhat cryptic.  They will then hopefully look up your GEM (Generic E-mail Address) from the CERN's home Web page. Since most e-mails in CERN are converted to the GEM format, our experience is that this is not a major problem. This was indeed the case for the successful migration of 1500 QuickMail users.


    We apologise in advance for the inconvenience the migration causes for you, and thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter. We know that forcing you to change your mail client will cause you a certain amount of disruption and we will try to minimise this.

    For matters related to this article please contact the author.

    Last Updated on December 14th, 1998 at 17:17:20
    Copyright © CERN 1998 -- European Laboratory for Particle Physics