Microsoft readies 'Edinburgh' phone software for small businesses

At the kick-off of its second annual Small Business Summit even in Seattle on March 19, Microsoft took the wraps off Response Point, software designed to power small-business phone systems that are under development by a handful of Microsoft partners.

At the kick-off of its second annual Small Business Summit event in Seattle on March 19, Microsoft took the wraps off Response Point, software designed to power small-business phone systems that are under development by a handful of Microsoft partners.

Response Point, software that was formerly known by the codename "Edinburgh," is a layer of software designed to run inside dedicated Windows-XP-Embedded base unit applicances. The ResponsePoint software "connects with patent-pending protocols to phones running special firmware," explained ResponsePoint Senior Product Manager Jeff Smith.

So far, three phone suppliers -- D-Link, Quanta and Uniden -- have agreed to manufacture the Response Point base units and acccompanying phones, Smith said. Microsoft has been beta testing Response Point with an unspecified number of customers for more than eight months, Smith said. Microsoft plans to make Beta 2 of the software available in early April and release the final product "later this year," Smith added.

Microsoft is emphaizing Response Point ease of deployment and use as its major selling points. It's so easy to manage, even an average PC user can set up and transfer new employee voice mail, company officials said. The system is targeted at companies with 50 or fewer handsets.

Microsoft has been pushing hard to establish itself as a player in the telecommunications space, as of late, with moves such as its purchase of speech-recognition vendor TellMe last week, and the pending rollout of a first public beta of its Office Communications Server 2007 combined instant-messaging/VOIP/audio-video conferencing server.

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