Tuesday saw the long-awaited 'general availability' of Service Pack 1 for Microsoft's Response Point phone software system, prompting announcements from each of the three authorized hardware partnersSyspine, D-Link, and Aastraas well as news from SIP trunking and VoIP gateway provider Junction Networks, that its services have been preconfigured into the product's setup routine.
Response Point is an easy-to-deploy small business VoIP solution (supporting up to 50 users) built around some sophisticated voice recognition technology that enables features like 'speak to dial' and a flexible, robust Auto Attendant (interactive voice response) call routing systemas well as integration with Outlook and other directories. (See our coverage of the Syspine implementation for further details of the original Response Point system.
The two big feature upgrades in SP1 are support for SIP trunking (direct connection from the PBX to the customer's ITSP) for external VoIP calls and support for DIDs, including the option of routing calls from specific inbound phone numbers directly to a given extension or group of extensions.
Other new features include call history, 'click-to-call' dialing, user-selectable hold music, call status readouts for internal staff, a headset mode, and personal ringtones.
Concord Ontario-based Aastra Telecom timed the release of its Response Point solutionthe AastraLink RP systemto coincide with Microsoft's release of the Service Pack. (The Syspine and D-Link solutions have been available since last winter.)
The AastraLink architecture comprises the RP 500 Base Unit (essentially the PBX), plus the RP 540 four-port gateway, plus phones, of which Aastra has created three Response Point modelsthe entry-level 6751i RP, the full featured 6753i RP, and the advanced 6757i CT RP which comes with a cordless handset.
Pricing for a bundle that includes the Base Unit, Gateway, and three phones is $2,400, with additional phones available for between $139 and $399.
VoIPplanet.com will publish a closer look at the AastraLink system in about a week.
The upgraded Respone Point software will come pre-loaded on the AastraLink Base Unit, while both Syspine and D-Link are hosting free downloads of SP1 so their existing customers can upgrade and get the new functionality.
Ease of deployment and management is one of Response Point's hallmarks; the system is designed for quick, painless setup by non-technical users. Now that ease of use extends to provisioning of VoIP service through the Response Point Administrator module.
With the SP1 release, customers will be able to activate service accounts with Junction Networksnow a Microsoft 'preferred provider'directly from the interface.
"We thoroughly tested the service from Junction Networks and are pleased to align with them to deliver Response Point as a complete VoIP solution for small businesses," said Xuedong Huang, general manager of Microsoft Response Point.
"We view Microsoft's choice as a major validation of our service quality," said Junction president Rob Walpov.
Junction (whose very cool OnSIP hosted PBX service we wrote about here) is offering Response Point customers a special deal that waves the $9.95 monthly service charge for the first month and supplies two free DID phone numbersone toll-freeand $7 of credit for inbound or outbound calling. There is no long-term commitment; customers can cancel without penalty at any time.
Junction Networks joins New Global Telecom and Cbeyond as a Microsoft preferred Response Point service provider.