Just a day after we reported on 3Com's new focus on the SMB IP telephony market, Microsoft joined the fray by manufacturing software that will power digital phone systems for small businesses.
It appears that Microsoft has decided to stick to its tried-and-true strategy of focusing on the software, while getting OEM manufacturers involved with the hardware and the actual selling. (Think Windows Mobile/Pocket PC or Windows Home Server)
The Microsoft "Response Point" phone systems will initially be offered by D-Link and Quanta Computer, and they will range in price from $2,500 to $3,000. A third manufacturer is slated to produce Response Point-based phones starting next year.
Microsoft is hoping Response Point's ease of use will appeal to small businesses that typically lack in-house computer or telephony expertise. The company claims individuals with average PC skills will be able to use a simplified management console to add users to the system, set up voice mail, and configure extensions.Response Point is designed to let companies of up to 50 employees easily set up and maintain a digital telephone network. According to Microsoft, the software will work just fine alongside conventional phone systems and VoIP systems.
What sets Response Point apart from most digital phone systems is probably its embedded voice recognition technology. Office workers will be able to initiate a call simply by pressing a button on their Response Point phone and speaking their colleague's name.Quanta's Syspine Response Point-based phone system with base station plus four phones will cost about $2,500. Additional phones retail for $159 apiece. It will be available for pre-order by October 5th, 2007.
D-Link's package, called VoiceCenter, consists of five phones and costs approximately $2,999. Additional phones retail for $149 apiece. VoiceCenter will be availability by the end of 2007.
It looks to me like Microsoft pushed forward its schedule and rushed out an announcement in response to 3Com's new IP telephony products. Without more details, it remains to be seen just how good Response Point will turn out to be.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.