Monday, October 13, 2008

Microsoft is a Phone Company?

With all the recent buzz over the Android, we know that Google is getting into the telephone business big time. But did you know that Microsoft is also in the phone business? The enterprise phone business?

Microsoft Response Point is a software based PBX telephone system that is intended for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Like nearly every new PBX design, this one is based on VoIP telephony with SIP for switching control. So are larger enterprise VoIP solutions. But Microsoft has targeted Response Point to companies that are small enough that they probably don't have a dedicated IT or telecom department. These companies need solutions that are easy to set up and manage, and don't require all-day training seminars to teach employees how to use their strange new desk phones.

Wow! Microsoft could be my new phone company. I can hardly wait to run out and buy the Response Point software in the box next to the Vista upgrade.

Just kidding. Response Point is sure to cause you less grief than trying to get your old Windows XP machines to dance a Vista tune and not fall over. That's because YOU won't be trying to round up the right CPU and peripherals to roll your own phone system. Response Point comes embedded in ready-to-run small business phone systems, like the ones offered by Aastra.

The AastraLink RP phone system based on Microsoft Response Point consists of three components. They are a base unit, gateway, and special IP phones designed especially for Response Point systems.

The base unit - think PC or server - runs the Response Point software. This is the brains of the system can comes with a voice activated auto-attendant, voice to email integration and easy integration with Microsoft outlook. Microsoft outlook? Remember that SIP telephones run right on your company LAN along with your computer terminals. This is one of the big advantages of enterprise VoIP. Being packet network based, they easily integrate with computer systems. Easy, that is, compared with traditional telephone systems that have proprietary hardware and software and their own unique network architecture.

The AastraLink Gateway is the interface box that connects your IP PBX system to the PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network. Standard phone lines plug into the gateway. They are accessed as outside phone lines through the base unit connection to the gateway. Alternatively, you can buy SIP trunking telephone service from competitive carriers and not worry about connecting to the phone company yourself.

The SIP telephones, also called terminals, are the user interface to the IP PBX system. They look like standard business desk sets but are designed for easy interface to the system. No separate phone wiring is needed as they plug right into an Ethernet jack. Some, like the Aastra 57i, even have PoE or Power over Ethernet capability so that you don't need a separate power supply. A PoE phone is the network equivalent of the analog telephone that plugs into a phone jack without any other connections needed.

AastraLink's Response Point systems have the smarts built-in to make these phone systems pretty much plug and play. The system will auto-discover and auto-configure any new handsets plugged into the network. Moves, adds and changes become invisible, so you don't need a technician to come running whenever someone needs to relocate to a different desk.

How's your business phone system? Ready for an upgrade or launching a new office? Find business telephone system suppliers that can get you set up Aastra and other high quality telephone solutions at the right price.

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