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IT EXPO: Microsoft Releases Response Point Service Pack 2

Microsoft Corp. Monday released Service Pack 2 for its Response Point IP PBX software. The upgrade, which is available for download at no charge on the software maker’s Web site, includes several features designed to aid indirect sales partners in setting up solutions for small and medium business customers.

In related news, the company announced two more service providers are interoperable with Response Point solutions – TotalTel in the United States and SMB Phone Systems in Canada. 8×8 Inc., Bandwidth.com, New Global Telecom, Cbeyond and Junction Networks already offer Response Point service.

Response Point, which was launched in October 2007, is a software-based IP PBX that is packaged as an appliance by three OEMs – D-Link, Aastra Technologies Ltd. and Quanta Computer Inc..

Feedback from early adopters and resellers was behind many of the changes in SP2, said Richard Sprague, senior director, in an advance interview with PHONE+.

For users, highlights include the addition of paging capabilities, which like other functionality, are accessible via the “magic blue button” on each Response Point phone. Sprague explained that users simply push the button, say, “page sales,” for example, and deliver a message to the sales extensions.

Similarly, an intercom function now is supported, creating a two-way communication between two handsets. One common scenario where the intercom is used is to communicate with employees in the employee break room, Sprague said.

Microsoft also has added support for analog phones. While analog phones connected to Response Point will not include the magic blue button, they will maintain needed features such as conferencing. Presently, Response Point handsets only support three-way conference calling.

Another feature allows users to schedule when calls ring through to an after-hours auto attendant. Previously, this had to be set manually.

SP2 also adds parked call return. When users put a caller on hold, they will be reminded after 3 minutes.

There also are a host of features that are designed to aid trained Response Point specialists to set up solutions for SMBs. One of these is support for VPNs. Response Point will layer on top of a VPN to enable remote workers.

In addition, SP2 enables incoming caller ID to launch a Web page with a custom URL. So, when a screen-pop comes in, the user can click on the number and be directed to a Web-based CRM database. Previously, the screen-pop would direct users to contact information contained in Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Business Contact Manager.

SP2 also now supports digital trunks, such as a T1 or PRI. Microsoft partner Quintum Technologies sells a gateway that will let small businesses connect to a T1 line, for example.

Sprague said Microsoft Response Point costs $2,000-$2,500 for a four-phone bundle. He said the OEMs set the price points; however, Microsoft will enable Microsoft Partners to provide financing for bundles of hardware, software and professional services. Microsoft bills the customer a low monthly rate for a set term. Partners would continue to get their money upfront as if the customer paid in full.

“Typically a customer with good credit could get it on the order of $12 per seat, per month,” Sprague said. “That’s a great way to be able to help with cash flow.”


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