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What's the Outlook? Microsoft wants to help you reach out and touch someone.

By Mike Hogan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I have to say that the idea of putting telephone switching equipment in entrepreneurs' offices mystifies me. But Microsoft says that's exactly what America's 3.5 million companies with five to 50 employees need to do. It wants to replace their outdated key systems with its new Response Point PBX ( Windows IP-PBX packaged inside a small base unit from either Aastra Technologies, D-Link or Quanta. A starter system with five desksets costs $2,500 to $3,000, depending on the manufacturer, and you can add up to 50 desksets for about $150 each.

Setup and operation are simple: Connect the server and your desksets to your broadband gateway/network router via Ethernet cable. Install the Response Point administrative software on a networked PC and make a couple of configuration choices. Plug in a third-party's VoIP service adapter or your PSTN phone line and you're talking.

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