Microsoft rethinking its Response Point small-business phone strategy

Microsoft's advertising units are just one of several that were affected heavily by the second wave of Microsoft layoffs announced on May 5. Response Point, Microsoft's small-business phone team, also took a hit. Here's what Microsoft is saying publicly about the future of Response Point.

Microsoft's advertising units are just one of several that were affected heavily by the second wave of Microsoft layoffs announced on May 5. Response Point, Microsoft's small-business phone team, also took a hit.

On the Mini-Microsoft blog, several anonymous posters made it sound as if Microsoft has killed the Response Point team and product. But a Microsoft spokesperson said this is not the case.

In response to my questions about the team and its fate, here is what Microsoft is saying:

"While the Response Point group was impacted by yesterday's job eliminations, the comments in Mini are not correct.

- We will continue to support Response Point version 1.0. and the current OEMs, Service Providers and resellers that are selling it. Customers will continue to be supported through their OEMs. - We will also continue to promote the product online and spotlight compatible 3rd party services and add-on products. - The team is evaluating the strategy for the next version of the product and will continue to investigate the opportunity in the small business market. - The Response Point team has not been moved to another division."

(According to posts on Mini-Microsoft, the Response Point team was, most recently, part of the Startup Business Accelerator incubator under Sanjay Parthasarathy.  No official word so far on whether MSN Direct and the .Net Micros Framework, which posters on Mini also identified as Parthasarathy projects that got the axe, actually did.)

Last I heard, the Response Point team was hard at work on the next version of Response Point, code-named "Austin." Based on this new information from Microsoft, it's not clear when and if that release still will come to market.

Microsoft released Response Point 1.0 in October 2007. The product, which offered VOIP calling and a voice-activated user interface, is aimed at companies with one to 50 phones.  Response Point OEMs -- including D-Link, Uniden, Quanta Computer and Aastra, bundle Microsoft's Response Point software with their phone systems.

"Evaluating the strategy for the next version of the product" doesn't mean Response Point is definitely going forward (since one option could be to discontinue it).  But that's all Microsoft is saying publicly at the moment....