Microsoft Unveils SMB Phone System

Microsoft has unveiled a small-business IP phone system called ‘Response Point’.

The move will put the company in head on competition with the leading IP PBX vendors such as Cisco, Avaya and Nortel with whom Microsoft has been collaborating to integrate its unified communications tools with their products.

The company says their new system comes in an easy-to-install box, supports both VoIP and traditional phone lines, and includes a voice-activated user interface.

Now in beta testing, Response Point will be generally available later this year in three models: D-Link DVX-2000, Quanta Syspine and Uniden Evolo.

“I am proud and honoured to work with leaders in the computing, telephony and networking fields to bring Response Point to market,” said Xuedong Huang, general manager of the Response Point team at Microsoft. “Each of our OEM partners brings its own special expertise to our customers, allowing us to serve a much broader range of small businesses.”

Microsoft designed the Response Point software to empower small-business customers to manage system changes themselves.

“We know from years of networking experience that many small businesses want an IT specialist to install their networking infrastructure,” said Keith A. Karlsen, executive vice president of D-Link Systems Inc. “But they also want to manage simple things like moves, adds and changes on their own. With the user-friendly, PC-based Response Point management console, tasks such as adding a phone for a new employee or creating a call distribution list can be completed in a couple of minutes.”

Microsoft says Response Point phone system software makes the voice communications experience much easier for end users.

“The ‘Response Point’ voice commands and speech-enabled auto-attendant will offer users a powerful experience that differs radically from other small-business phone systems on the market,” said Rich Tosi, president of Uniden America Corp. “A small-business employee can press one button on the handset of a cordless phone and then access anyone in the company directory, anyone in his Outlook contacts, and a range of calling features with a few simple words. That is a very powerful user experience.”

Recognising that phone systems are a critical part of day-to-day operations for small businesses, the Response Point team created a specialised architecture designed to optimise system reliability.

“Response Point” is one of the strategic initiatives supporting Microsoft’s vision for VoIP communications. “The ‘Response Point’ voice-enabled user interface is a great example of how innovative new technology can be applied to solve everyday customer problems,” said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Research at Microsoft.

Mark Deakin, Unified Communications Manager for Microsoft in the UK, told Comms Business Magazine, “It’s important to remember this (Response Point) came from a different part of the company i.e. out of MS Research if I remember correctly.

This means that for now it doesn’t relate to our Unified Communications vision; from time to time we do come out with products like Response Point which at first look like they are taking us in one direction but actually it comes about for a different reason. I wouldn’t read too much into this for now and all the information is available on the (Microsoft) website.”