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Microsoft touts updated Response Point

If you’ve ever worked for a small company, you know how painful office telephony can be. Case in point: At my last gig, I inherited the desk and phone of another reporter who had left the company.

No one in that office knew how to change the voicemail options and phone calls to the telephony provider went unreturned for days. Finally I  had to call the reporter — now with a competitor — and beg him for his password so that I could get into voice mail and change the configuration. Luckily, he was a mensch.

Sadly, that is not an exception to the rule when it comes to small businesses.

 Microsoft Response Point is supposed to remedy that situation by making it a no-brainer to move extensions around and reprogram options. 

This week, the company will tout Response Point Service Pack 1 that will  add outward-facing VoIP capabilities to the year-old small business phone system.  

The full Response Point system — Microsoft software bundled with D-Link, Quantas or Aastra hardware — plugs into a company’s LAN and from that point promises easy and flexible phone management.

It can work with traditional analog or VoIP lines or a combination, says Jason Harrison, president of Harrison Technology Consulting, a Nashville, N.C.-based small business specialist. Harrison’s been a fan since the inaugural release.

Microsoft will talk up SP 1 at its annual Small Business Summit this week. SP1 should be available as a download to existing customers and make its way into new hardware this summer.

The product competes with small business phone systems from Avaya, Digium and others.

One Microsoft talking point will be integration with Outlook email and Business Contact Manager. In theory, that will enable it to suck up all a user’s contact information and the user can then, click a button, speak the name of the client, and the system will place the call. It uses the company’s Speech Server technology.

The outbound-VoIP capabilities means companies can easily assign new phone numbers (and discard them if needed.)  The previous release has internal VoIP capabilities and some partners say SP1 is adding features that had been promised in the initial release.

The target market is companies with up to 50 employees.  Harrison says the outbound VoIP-essentially direct SIP trunking is done within the server

“The fact that it works with VoIP and non-VoIP lines is a plus for smaller customers who may want to try out VoIP,” Harrison said. For his company the product opens up all sorts of telephony-oriented doors

“This is an area we haven’t been involved with before. This product lets customers try VoIP and add it as they want,” Harrison noted. 

He sees integration work opportunities with ResponsePoint, Outlook with Business Contact Manager, and Microsoft Office Accounting. With that amalgam a partner can create system in which an “inbound call prompts a popup toast that identifies the customer from caller ID, Outlook does a cross check, and you click on the toast to bring up all the data about that customer or prospect,” Harrison said.

The software also will give D-Link partners an entrée into voice applications.

Hardware/software solutions from all three partners list for about $2,500 for base unit and four or five desktop phones with slight variations depending on the OEM partner.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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Great post.
I'd like to stress the importance of mobile app usability testing. Before launching the app, companies should use a remote usability testing and understand exactly how the user interact with their app by using visual in-app analytics, such as Appsee ( User recordings and heatmap analysis enable companies to watch every action the users do and understand exactly how they interact with their app. This way companies will dramaticaly improve the user experience within their mobile app.
What is untrusted device testing?
Mobile testing has never been done before. May be in future, we will.
Early days of mobile testing with limited client base in our organisation at present but definitely something to plan for the future.
Early days of mobile testing with limited client base in our organisation at present but definitely something to plan for the future.
The article refers "real-device testing" as "untrusted device testing". The point is, though, that's it an uncontrolled real device that must be supported well by the software.
From my enterprise experiences, it's a tough point. The companies still remain in the illusion that they can control and dictate "supported software and devices".
I observed one case though when such an illusion was mercilessly broken by business: real estate.
The author is right about the training cost involved with mobile testing.  Too many just think oh we just apply what we do on desktop to a smaller screen.  Well that grossly undersells what Mobile can do.  There's testing integration with mobile APIs, Mobile Push Notifications, SMS, not to mention changing connectivity and power concerns that can all be key.
Testing mobile software is not simple despite what many think. The author touched about some of the challenges but there are other problems related to changing up the hardware and OS conditions which directly affect software behavior. Most software testers do not feel they need to test hardware or the OS. With desktop or web software testers the hardware has already been tested. The mindset to consider battery drain but also charging the device. So many people want faster charging of the battery but a faster battery charge means heat. What people do not realize is that mobile devices are small and contained, the heat cannot dissipate fast enough to damage the cell modem which is close to the battery physically. Software can be designed to check the temp of the cell modem periodically and turn off the cell modem after the temp is too hot, usually about 65 degrees celcius. Another point to think about the amount of storage, what a device can hold compared with a desktop/laptop. Devices contain considerably less storage available and memory which can affect how software behaves. Software testers are not used to testing these limits and mobile app developers do not always know how to design what the app should do to recover when reaching a limit.

Finally, there are different types of tests depending on what type of mobile aapp's architecture. Security is a big concern for a mobile web app or a mobile hybrid app over a mobile native app. Anytime developers reuse code from web technology, that software is open to hackers. If the enterprise mobile software is data sensitive, then testers need to be ready to test that software accordingly. Mobile software testers do not always know how to apply security tests and usually they have so many other tests to apply and short timelines and loads of devices to apply those tests. Complexity requires smart planning of tests and understanding the type of users. Add BYOD to the mix and that adds even a higher level of complexity. Where is the cost savings?
Just the sheer number of mobile platforms and OS's being run make this a true nightmare. Not everyone has the luxury to be on the latest version of mobile technology.
This article went a slightly different direction than I was expecting.  When I think of untrusted device, I am thinking lack of MDM, lack of ability to reset or block a malicious user.  The need for refreshing tokens or logins of some form.

It raises the question... what do we mean when we say 'trusted device'?