Ezine 133 – Response Point

Ezine 133 – Response Point

The Curious Case of Microsoft’s Response Point

This week my friend ‘Barking’ Eddie is excited about a new Microsoft product called Response Point.  Eddie explained that this is sophisticated phone system designed for small and medium sized offices.  At first sight it seems strange that Microsoft should be involved with a phone system; but then if you literally look under the phone’s covers, you will see the stripped down XP operating system.

One key selling feature, and another area of Microsoft expertise, is state-of-the-art voice recognition.  With Response Point you just pick up the receiver, speak the name of the person you want, and you don’t have to remember their extension number.  As expected, it has voicemail and all the call transfer options that you can possibly imagine, again these features can be activated by voice as well as keypad.  I cannot emphasise enough, that it is the voice recognition stuff that makes Response Point a cut above alternative systems.

The other major selling point is the ease of setting-up and administering user accounts for the phone extensions.  All you need for configuration is one machine running XP, Vista or Windows Server.  The Response Point’s base unit looks like a router and naturally connects to the external phone line.  All you do internally is plug the Response Point into the LAN, and to complete the loop, connect the special handsets into the LAN.

The system capacity is said to be 50 phones, quite why this limits puzzles me, but I accept if Microsoft say 50, then you won’t squeeze 200 phones out of the system.  A typical 20 user solution should cost about $6,000.  More good news, once you buy your system there is nothing more to pay.  There are no annual charges for the Response Point and no per-user charges for the voicemail.

As with desktop computers, Microsoft isn’t actually manufacturing the Response Point hardware, they are supplying the software and leave companies such as Quanta and D-Link to actually build the digital phone system.  The cost of the base system is about $3,000 and the phones about $150.  In a bizarre twist, Eddie wants a system for his home use; instead of the usual unwanted Christmas presents, Eddie is persuading friends and family chip into a fund to buy a Response Point system – Eddie makes up the shortfall.

I remember Bill Gates being interviewed on TV about 5 years ago.  What intrigued me most was Bill saying that he was still interested in intelligent appliances around the house.  Perhaps Response Point will be first of a line of robotic systems with Microsoft operating systems.  Speaking fridges, that automatically order more goodies.  Garage doors that open automatically for your car – but nobody else’s.  Android vacuum cleaners…..

Meanwhile, back to the here and now.  Whether or not you are going to buy a Response Point, if you are curious to know more, then it’s worth checking out Microsoft’s video demonstrations.   As usual you can’t fault Microsoft’s enthusiasm and their slick presentation.

Have a preview of Response Point

Response Point – OCS update kindly sent in by Claudia

Regarding Response Point – this system is positioned to be the basis for a Unified Communications solution for the SMB market. It is the little sister, if you will, of Microsoft’s much larger and even more feature-filled Open Communications System (OCS) suite of Unified Communications solutions.

Your report on Response Point brings up a very interesting issue. As of this writing, there is no builtin, non-disruptive upgrade path to OCS. Considering that OCS is the premier system that Microsoft wants everyone to move to, this is a predicament.

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