The beta 1 version of Office 12 is rolling along and it looks like it will be called Office 2007. Recently, Microsoft gave the Beta 1 testers permission to discuss the features of what is in the next version of Office. I am sure most of the readers will read many great things from many different people in Microsoft over the coming year or two and some will be true, some will simply be regurgitated media releases and some will be proper analysis of the new product. Anyway for what it is worth, here is a summary of what you are going to find in the next version of Access.
1) The menus are quite different
2) The database container now works like a interactive task bar
3) Access will support MDB files with the new interface and most of the old things that you are used to from Access 2000 onwards. The MDB format will not be developed much further.
4) Access will now have a new file format called ACEDB. If you adopt this format or users convert your database to this format, the following things will not be supported. Access user level security. Replication. Data Access Pages (ADP is still supported)
5) There will be new simpler forms and reports and the macro environment will be improved.
As for things that will appear in the next version, this following statement from Microsoft describes what the focus of the next version is." Our goals for Access 12 are to make new users more successful, to make existing users more productive, and to enable a whole new type of database application built around Windows SharePoint Services."To achieve these goals, the new Database templates are far more prominent in the next version of Access. MS states that there has been a million downloads of the Access 2003 new databases templates and they want to build on this success. It also describes why the menu's were redesigned to make them work the same as the next version of Word and Excel. Finally Sharepoint support means that a lot of changes to Access itself seemed geared around making linked tables work really well into SharePoint services. It seems as if they hope Access will be a prominent tool in supporting SharePoint development. Only time will tell.
As for my feelings on whether I like the next version of Access, I believe that the most important conclusion about the next version of Access is that it is still being treated seriously by Microsoft. Also there is a very good chance that there will be a lot more people using Access in the future because there is no software company in the world that spends more money on user research than Microsoft. Another interesting development sideline is that for ACEDB format databases, the Access team has now taken back development of the jet engine from the Windows development team. This should bode well for future development of Access databases. I cannot say much more as there is still a gag on us discussing our findings of Access 2007 outside the beta website.If you wish to comment on this topic, post your response (good or bad) below.