REDMOND, Wash. — March 24, 2008 — U.S. small businesses can soon take advantage of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone service on Microsoft Response Point phone systems to improve their business communications. Today at the third annual Microsoft Small Business Summit, Microsoft Corp. announced it will release a feature update, Service Pack 1 (SP1), to its Microsoft Response Point phone system software this summer, available free via a simple download.
“Small businesses rely heavily on the phone to communicate with customers and want a solution that allows them to reliably reach as many customers as possible at a low cost,” said Xuedong Huang, general manager for Response Point at Microsoft. “Response Point SP1 will make it easy to transition from traditional analog service to the promise of digital voice services.”
Response Point SP1 will enable small businesses to easily supplement their existing phone service with VoIP services. As customers become more comfortable with the reliability and quality of service offered by VoIP, they can seamlessly move from analog to VoIP without needing telephony expertise.
Recognizing that small businesses have ebbs and flows in employee hiring, SP1 will take advantage of the flexibility of VoIP to allow small businesses to scale much more rapidly and cost-effectively than with traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines. If IP service is in place, using a simple VoIP account setup wizard in the Response Point Administrator, a small business can connect with Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) to add new VoIP phone numbers in a matter of minutes. The process to install traditional analog lines can take days or even weeks. According to small-business research firm Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc., a small business with 10 to 19 employees can save an average of $8,000 in the first year by purchasing an IP-based phone system such as Response Point.
SP1 will also address the desire of small businesses to maintain a local presence through the use of a local VoIP phone number. VoIP providers allow businesses to select a local phone number for use in remote locations, alleviating costs to the business and customers for long-distance and toll-free numbers. Using a local phone number, small businesses can also secure their presence in local customer resources such as the chamber of commerce and local White and Yellow Pages.
Response Point SP1 also helps small businesses maintain close and responsive relationships with customers through support for Direct Inward Dialing, a key feature enabled by VoIP. A small business can configure Response Point to route known inbound callers directly to a particular extension or pool of extensions. Small-business owners can furnish a main number or individual employee extensions to ensure that someone is available — virtually anytime or anywhere — for important customers.
Response Point hardware vendors Aastra Technologies Ltd., D-Link Corp. and Quanta Computer Inc. will ship end-to-end Response Point phone systems, pre-loaded with SP1, this summer. The SP1 release will coincide with Aastra’s Response Point phone system debut. “Response Point is a great complement to our portfolio of enterprise and enterprise IP communications products,” said Yves Laliberté, executive vice president at Aastra. “We chose to incorporate Response Point into our line because we believe that Microsoft has done a very good job of designing the software from the ground up to address the unique needs of small businesses and it will be well supported by Microsoft’s channel partners. The integration of Response Point’s system software with our scalable and flexible corded and wireless SIP phones will allow us to offer compelling desktop and mobility solution to small-business customers.”
Startup Environment Breeds Rapid Innovation
Microsoft developed Response Point in Microsoft Research, where the team deliberately organized and acted like a business startup. “The environment within Microsoft Research has allowed the team to stay focused on solving the customer problem while developing creative solutions. Response Point Service Pack 1 is a testament to Microsoft’s focus on rapid but pragmatic innovation,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of the Startup Business Accelerator at Microsoft. “Not only has the team listened and responded to their customers, but they have also done so with amazing speed and agility.”
Learning Opportunities for Partners and Small Businesses
Small businesses, value-added resellers and Microsoft channel partners can learn more about the benefits of Response Point SP1 by participating in new classroom training and information sessions:
Twelve-city Response Point training tour. A new 12-city series of classroom training courses for VARs and channel partners will be offered April through June in cities throughout the U.S. For more information or to register, those interested can visit http://www.microsoft.com/partner/media/homepage/us/default.aspx.
Response Point solution segment, “Phone It In.” On day two of the Microsoft Small Business Summit, Richard Sprague, senior director for Response Point at Microsoft, will discuss and demonstrate how Response Point addresses common small-business challenges. The segment will be available live online and on demand from 10 to 11 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, March 25, at https://www.sbsummit.com/Default.aspx.
More information about Response Point and the training opportunities can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/responsepoint.
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