Microsoft is shouting its way into the VoIP market by extending its small business phone systems to support voice recognition.
The ability to run VoIP is being introduced to its Response Point systems through a service pack, which was announced this week but won't be brought in until the summer.
Response Point is a combination of hardware from PBX vendors Aastra, D-Link and Quanta and software from Microsoft. It's most likely to appeal to small businesses who lack telephony expertise.
Microsoft thinks it's neat because users can transfer calls to their colleagues using voice recognition.
The theory is, if employees are too thick/technophobic/lazy, they don't need to worry about pressing buttons on a phone in order to transfer a call to a colleague. Instead they just say the name of the individual, and the system pops the call through.
Whether there is the demand for cushy tools like this is another thing. Most employees can at least use a phone even if it takes them half the morning to find the list of extensions from the hard drive.
What might be slightly more useful is that the service pack will allow incoming calls to be routed to the right employee or group of employees - or even to voicemail - depending on their caller ID, helping to make things a little more efficient.
Why it's taken this long for Microsoft to VoIP-enable the kit we don't know, but Redmond is keen to expand beyond its traditional desktop battleground and start playing the PBX vendors at their own game.
With comms going more and more IP, it'll be doing a great deal of that over the coming months. ®