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Microsoft Ends Response Point Phone System

Microsoft on Friday announced that it has discontinued its Response Point phone system for small businesses.

Sales will end on Aug. 31, the Response Point team announced, and Microsoft is also ending product support and partner support. The decision isn't exactly new as Microsoft pulled its engineering team back from the product in May 2009. Now, however, Microsoft is pulling the plug.

"After taking a good look at the Microsoft Response Point offering and the needs of small businesses, we've decided to discontinue the sale, support and development of the Response Point phone system for small businesses, effective August 31, 2010," the team wrote.

Microsoft also said that demand for Response Point was not enough to sustain it as a "viable standalone business moving forward." However, the company promised to address the needs of small businesses in the future with its Office Communications Server (OCS) product.

Response Point software is a PBX replacement designed to serve from one to 50 employees. It was billed as easy to install and maintain by nontechnical workers and enabled voice over Internet Protocol communications. Response Point featured a voice recognition system that let users contact their officemates by simply speaking a name into the receiver. The software was priced at about $5,500 for a 20-phone system, with extra phones costing $149 to $159 each.

Rob Horwitz, research chair at Directions on Microsoft, speculated that the delay in announcing the discontinuance of the phone system may have had to do with Microsoft's completion of OEM contracts. He noted several possible reasons for ending the product.

First, there likely was a technology overlap with OCS and it was costly to both develop the product and maintain the partner support channel for it. Second, the small business PBX market held little profit, "especially for a company that needs hundreds of millions to make the revenue meter budge by a perceptible amount," Horwitz explained by e-mail.

Finally, Horwitz noted that Response Point's main champion, former CEO Bill Gates, has moved to other endeavors.  Gates now serves as Microsoft's chairman and is less involved with the company's operations.

OCS is a complex product, and it's not clear how it might be simplified for small businesses. Horwitz speculated that rather than rolling Response Point efforts into OCS, Microsoft might be "better off with a hosted solution for small businesses."

Customers can continue to use the Response Point system after Aug. 31, according to Microsoft's announcement. The Response Point Web page will be maintained until Nov. 1, 2011.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Sun, Jul 11, 2010 Mike Toronto

The final nail in the coffin has been coming for months. I've reviewed comments and must agree with one in particular that expressed disappointment with MS for not handing/or selling RP to a start up. Why not? You courted IT businesses with you easy to use solution. You partnered with the likes of DLINK, etc on the hardware front and then you completely pull the plug? Blame it on Bill Gates moving on to other things if you want but you would have gained more support had you found a partner to accept and further develop the solution. Too bad....really glad I didn't buy this system when I had the chance....it didn't pass my "longevity" sniff test!!

Thu, May 20, 2010 Phone System http://www.ringcentral.com/office/how-it-works.html

Maybe, just maybe MS is working on another system.

Thu, May 20, 2010 David

RP is 3-4 years ahead of OCS. When will OCS offer the same level of features?

Tue, May 18, 2010 Chris Arlington, TX

Thanks Presence Management for the info on the LG system, but it seems beyond what a small office would need. Harry brelsford Bainbridge Island WA, how do I touch base with you offline? My email is posted. Thanks.

Tue, May 18, 2010 Harry brelsford Bainbridge Island WA

Great article follwing the sad demise of Response Point. I am also amazed at the comments from the community and find that even more valuable. There are many options that I'm not comfortable posting up as "ads" but you contact me offline - lots of interest in SMB VoIP!

Tue, May 18, 2010 Chris Texas

RP seems like nice, reasonably priced system, and most importantly easy to setup by end-user. I almost pulled the trigger and bought two systems last week for two offices, but now with this news should I still get it if it were offered at a very low price? Or should I look at another system? I am looking for something easy to setup by end-user. Thanks for any advise/guidance.

Tue, May 18, 2010

I would forget the low end Panasonic and others, Take a look at the LG-Nortel iPECS product. It will blow the doors off any SOHO product out there at a price point you won't believe. We haven't been disappointed at all. You can get information and quotes from Presence Management LLC at 614.652.6500.

Mon, May 17, 2010 Chris arlington, texas

Holy cow!!! What a shame. I am in the midst of shopping for a new phone system and RP caught my attention for its price and ease of use; I almost pulled the trigger last Friday. Should I still buy this system at a very low price or should I stay away and go with the Panasonic system or any others? MS, if you treat your retailers this badly, then in the future it would be very difficult for anyone to carry your product(s). Any advise/guidance is greatly appreciated.

Mon, May 17, 2010

We can now put this right next to our MP-900 Microsoft Home Phone System with Call Manager (Win9x only)...a land fill. Hmmm...I wonder how that old phone system runs with Win7 compatibility mode? Any takers?

Mon, May 17, 2010 MS Whipping Post Ohio

Thanks MS. I love it...new exchange server, get rid of VOIP. We want you to email and not talk. A pure image of their "Outlook" on customers. What should we title this article? "Pulling the jack for a plug" or "Pulling the plug for jack"? Better yet..."MS sticks your RJ45 where the dollar doesn't shine".

Mon, May 17, 2010

I was in the middle of preparing for an installation of the product for one of my customers. I consider myself lucky that the announcement was made 3 days before I proceeded with the purchase. If there will be a Small Biz version of OCS (hosed or otherwise), why did they pull the plug before they came out with a replacement for RP? Instead of offering an upgrade path for customers, they just cut them off cold-turkey leaving them irritated. This is not how you get repeat customers.

Mon, May 17, 2010 Robert Seattle

I find it unfortunate that Microsoft couldn't have "spun" RP off to a startup company and let them run with it. It had lots of potential.

Mon, May 17, 2010 Ulises Alaska

Thanks Microsoft. We spent 6 months evaluating products for SOHO/SMB clients, we convinced them to go with our recommendation, over other vendors/consultants, and now I have to tell them that their $1,000's of VoIP equipment is no longer supported by you. You've pulled some pretty stupid moves over the years and I have understood, for the most part, why things happen the way they do. This time you have left me with egg on my face and now several dozens of clients are going to be less than happy. My bottom line is being eroded by your lack of promised support. For the last 20 years I have patiently waited whilst being berated by clients unhappy with Microsoft. I am not in the habit of biting the hand that feeds me, but this truly pisses me off.

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