If you're interested in the shape of email to come, take a look at the latest trend on college campuses, where IT pros are turning to outsourced offerings from Google and Microsoft.
Case in point: Facing an email upgrade crisis, the CTO of Oberlin College recently decided to adopt Google Apps for Education rather than refresh the school's internal system.
As a result, John Bucher estimates he will save over $100,000. But that doesn't mean the service will be entirely free.
"E-mail migrations are usually labor intensive in a college or university environment," writes Bucher in an email. "But the way I see it, we would have to spend these other costs (such as training, documentation, one-on-one help, etc.) anyway, regardless of how we decided to upgrade/migrate our campus e-mail services."
Besides free email, Bucher points out that savings also accrue from the fact that Oberlin won't have to construct the collaborative tools, like calendaring and document sharing, that come with Google Apps. "Not only do we get e-mail for free from Google, but we also get these other products."