Belfast Telegraph

MPs' email colour causes complaints

Parliament has spent £500,000 upgrading MPs and staff to new Microsoft Office software - but have received complaints about the email colour scheme.

Office 365 offers the latest versions of Word, Excel and Outlook software and over five years is expected to save £2.5 million, according to Liberal Democrat MP John Thurso.

Mr Thurso, speaking on behalf of the House of Commons Commission, said the roll-out would complete next month as the final MPs and their staff join the new system.

But in a written Parliamentary answer he said: "We have received some negative feedback about the colour scheme of Outlook 2013 and about the new location of file/print/save buttons in Office 2013; similar feedback was received from House staff.

"In response PICT (Parliamentary ICT) have produced guidance for staff on how to darken the colour scheme in Outlook and have been assured by Microsoft that they are working to address the interface issues in future upgrades.

"There were some difficulties reported by people upgrading their Office 2013 remotely. This was due to the slow download of security updates for users with poor broadband connections."

And he added: "The migration of House staff to Microsoft 365 overlapped with unrelated network failures in January-February 2014, which affected perception of the product.

"Feedback from those migrated after the network was stabilised was much more positive. We have recently initiated 30 pilots of the wider suite of tools in Microsoft 365, and we have received positive feedback from these pilots, with users requesting to keep the new tools."

Mr Thurso said general feedback indicated the products were similar to the previous 2007 versions, with some liking the additional features.

The new software is 'cloud' based to allow access on mobile devices.

Mr Thurso was responding to a question posed by Labour MP Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife).

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