It's Finally Official: Microsoft Response Point is Dead
OCS, initially targeted at larger line size customers and thought to be too costly for the SMB market, has undergone continual design enhancements to make it a more viable Response Point replacement.
One year after layoffs decimated the Microsoft Response Point product team and future development of the offering was placed in severe jeopardy, the company has issued the following statement on its website:
After transitioning Microsoft Response Point to engineering maintenance status a year ago, Microsoft has made the decision to discontinue the sale, support and development of the Response Point phone system for small businesses, effective August 31, 2010. Current customers will be able to continue to use their Response Point product(s) as per their equipment manufacturer purchase agreement.
Despite favorable initial response from customers and channel partners since launch, we have not seen the necessary demand materialize to sustain Response Point as a viable standalone business. To continue to support the needs of the small business community, we expect to consolidate our efforts and offerings in this space around Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS).
Since last year's announcements, the market has been waiting for Microsoft to make it official. Response Point was launched with much fanfare in March 2007, targeted at the SMB market for customers with up to 50 user stations. As Microsoft alludes to in its statement, the product never gained market momentum as expected and will soon join the numerous other IP telephony systems that have come and gone during the years.
Fortunately for Microsoft, its OCS offering, initially targeted at larger line size customers and thought to be too costly for the SMB market, has undergone continual design enhancements, i.e. reduced server requirements, to make it a more viable Response Point replacement for some, if not all, customers in the small line size space. Microsoft can be very flexible regarding SMB market software pricing, if they wish to do so. Though the current multi-server architecture design is not optimal for small system customers, I believe Microsoft will be able to consolidate all OCS capabilities, including gateway functions, into a single appliance (similar to the recently introduced Survivable Branch Appliance option) to make it a more attractive SMB market space solution. I'm sure that Microsoft will have no problem working with its various hardware partners to develop such an offering.
Though the SMB market often takes a backseat to the larger enterprise system market segment during industry discussions, it still offers substantial revenue opportunities. The market for standalone communications systems less than 50 line stations accounts for about one fifth of all product revenues in North America, but closer to half on a global basis. It is too large a market segment for Microsoft not to offer a functional and price competitive product offering.OCS, initially targeted at larger line size customers and thought to be too costly for the SMB market, has undergone continual design enhancements to make it a more viable Response Point replacement.