I am often asked “Is Microsoft Access going to be here in 5 years?”. Here is a quick synopsis of what I think is the best answer to that question:
Microsoft continues to release enhancements and product improvements for Access 2016. example: new connectors were released this year showing a powerful interest in tying Access to Salesforce and other 3rd party software and offerings.
Companies continue to request Access database solutions, and today seem to be further expanding their migration from Word and Excel solutions to more powerful database solutions. Based on our current database request list, we see on-going development and support for Access being in demand for the next 5 years, if not more.
Web is not the solution for everyone. There are limitations for many when looking at web solutions, including remote locations without connectivity, desire to retain data on a private network, and other similar concerns. True, the web offers a modern database experience…but not everyone wants a web based solution. Access therefore still fills a niche in the marketplace for on-prem database and data management at an entry level that is cost effective.
Financial points are pro Access: a web based solution can cost many multiples compared to a Access solution. Businesses today are lean, and looking for fast and inexpensive solutions. Have you priced out Oracle lately? or a high end developer to build a robust application running on SQL? Access wins, hands down!
Supportability: there are many cost effective ways to support and deploy Access. You do not even need Access as an application to use a database thanks to the runtime engines available. When it comes to alternatives like cloud or web based offerings, costs quickly escalate or support becomes harder to find. Access offers a more universal supportability and scalability design then other options.
Access Web Apps: While Microsoft has now tried TWICE to deploy a web alternative with Access (Pages and Access Web Apps) they have both resulted in low uptake, and therefore a dropped product. This does not mean Microsoft has decided to abandon Access. Rather it shows how truly powerful the core product is relative to easier and blockier web solutions. What would be ideal is a future release of Access which includes a plugin to WordPress, a front end like Code Igniter, or some other similar tool. Already, integration and connectivity to Azure SQL is an option. This proves that Microsoft continues to look for options to improve the product. Hopefully in the future we will see Access grow with even better toolsets.
Finally, if I can point out ONE significant fact which generally we do not see in the public forums: as an Access MVP since 2014, I can tell you the Product Team behind Microsoft Access today is amazing, focused, listening to the feedback from the public, and moving things forward like I have never seen before. If Microsoft continues to support this team at the helm of Microsoft Access, it simply can only get better and more powerful. Michal Bar is truly amazing, she had an excellent presentation at IGNITE this year which you NEED to watch now: