Microsoft Keeps Dancing Around Response Point's Future

Microsoft on Tuesday was expected to reveal the fate of its Response Point small-business VoIP system to solution providers but instead continued to dance around the issue of whether it will continue development of the product.

In a town hall meeting with VoIP VARs, Response Point Program Manager John Frederickson said Microsoft doesn't currently plan to release future versions of Response Point but will continue to maintain the product and evaluate specific feature requests. Microsoft will continue supporting its OEMs and their resellers in marketing and selling the current version, Response Point 1.0 Service Pack 2, he said.

The product's future has been in doubt since May, when Microsoft laid off an unknown number of Response Point team members and clammed up about its plans for a 2.0 version of the product.

In the wake of this shakeup, Xuedong Huang, general manager of the Response Point group, has been moved to a new role in the Microsoft search division, and the company is keeping a small engineering team in Redmond that will be responsible for maintaining the product, according to Fredrickson.

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Response Point is funded and has a marketing budget for Microsoft's 2010 financial year, which ends on June 30, 2010. Fredrickson said Microsoft will continue evaluating Response Point from an ROI perspective as the company does with all of its products.

Asked for clarification, a Microsoft spokesperson offered the following statement in an e-mail: "In regards to the Response Point town hall, we did not announce anything. As far as future development goes, we are currently evaluating our road map and product plan and will have more details to share at the end of this calendar year."

Solution providers said they'd love for Microsoft to offer more concrete details on its intentions for a product in which they've long seen significant potential. "They've really locked down all information about Response Point, and I don't think they really know what they're going to do," said Harry Brelsford, CEO of Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based SMB Nation and editor of the VoIP blog Telephonation.

Response Point, a full-fledged IP PBX system designed for organizations with up to 50 employees, debuted in October 2007 and quickly gained popularity in the channel for its affordable price tag and robust feature set, which includes SIP trunking and click-to-call functionality via Outlook.