Response Point – small business telephone system


This morning we announced a new telephone product we built for small businesses, called “Microsoft Response Point”: an innovative and easy to use new phone system, designed specifically for small businesses.  http://www.microsoft.com/responsepoint


I’m really proud to be a member of the Microsoft Research incubation team that built Response Point.


From the beginning, we had only one goal in mind: radically simplify the total phone experience for small businesses.  We did extensive primary research of small business customers and built a telephone solution that focuses on this theme. 


1.     (User) We implemented an easy-to-use speech recognition system, to remove the need to memorize extension numbers and arcane keystrokes for doing things like transferring calls.


2.     (Administrator) Our management console allows you to complete phone moves, additions or changes with a few quick and easy mouse clicks. No special phone training or networking expertise is required.


3.     (Owner) Response Point offers a complete phone system at an affordable price that grows with your business.


Response Point is a self-contained VoIP hardware product that will be manufactured by Quanta, D-Link and Uniden.  You just need a LAN, some analog phone lines, and a PC (to run the management console).  You just plug the Response Point hardware into the LAN, then install the Management Console on the PC, and run through some wizards to setup the phone lines and phones.  Then you’re ready to make and receive calls.  Easy.


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Some other Response Point posts today:


Our press release: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/mar07/03-19MSResponsePointPR.mspx


Microsoft Small Business Channel Community Blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/archive/2007/03/19/say-hello-to-response-point-the-new-product-just-announced-by-kevin-turner-at-the-small-business-summit.aspx


Mary Jo Foley: http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=334


PC World: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,129955-c,webtelephonyconferencing/article.html


Jayman Dalal (another one of the Response Point team members): http://blogs.msdn.com/jdalal/archive/2007/03/19/microsoft-announces-response-point-an-easy-to-use-phone-system-for-small-businesses.aspx

Comments (4)

  1. MichaelGiagnocavo says:

    Analog phone lines? If it’s IP, can it not do IP origination/termination using, say, SIP?

  2. RobertBrown says:

    Great question, Michael.

    At this stage, we’re not announcing any partnerships with specific VoIP service providers.

    The primary interface is analog lines.  On the surface, this is a pretty interesting decision for a VoIP-based product.  But it’s based on considerable research.  From a pure engineering & technology perspective, it would have been simpler to just implement IP trunking and be done with it, and have an ITSP in the cloud worry about the PSTN gateway.  There are certainly some potential customers who are very enthusiastic about this approach.  But on the whole – for now, anyway – the majority of small businesses don’t feel the need to research and make a choice between analog lines and a VoIP service.  What they care a lot more about is getting phones onto employee’s desks in an affordable manner.  So that’s what we focused on.

    We gave Response Point the ability to use Windows Live Call (http://get.live.com/messenger/WinLiveCall) to make VoIP calls over the Internet to PSTN numbers, using the Response Point phones rather than Messenger to originate the call.  From a technology point of view, this just a specific implementation of IP trunking.  In general, small businesses care a lot about minimizing long-distance and international phone bills, and WLC provides "inexpensive per minute rates" to do just this.  The technology decision was driven by customer needs.  It gives them the option to realize one of the big benefits of IP trunking, without forcing them to make a complete switch.

  3. Michael Giagnocavo says:

    It sounds really interesting. Anyways, customers wanting to use VoIP for orig/term can just plug Response Point into some ATAs, right?

    I suppose you guys are probably right about not opening it up to just any SIP provider — there’s a lot of poor-quality ones out there (with super-cheap prices). Customers would then get a poor experience, and blame it on you.

    Well, anyways, it’s great to see MS taking a good solid step into telephony! (I have been waiting for MS to do so for years…)

  4. RobertBrown says:

    Yes, if a customer wants to use VoIP for origination & termination, they can pick a VoIP service that provides (or is compatible with) and FXS ATA.

    Hey, thanks for the kind words.  :-)