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Product: Office 12 Beta 1
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price:
Review By: Andre Da Costa

Access 12

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Word 12
Excel 12
4: Outlook 12
5: PowerPoint 12
6: Access 12

Microsoft Access 12 has had a make over, a departure that signifies that this release of Office is not only about convenience, but also elegance. Databases are not everybodyís cup of tea but Office Access 12 sure looks like its aiming to be just that. The Microsoft Office database management system has been around for the past thirteen years, first introduced as a stand alone product which soon became the Companyís successor on the client side to FoxPro which is now used for designing and developing high end database systems. Changes to the Access interface has always seemed experimental to me, first they started out with Tabs, then changed to list view in the database window in version 2000. With version 12 it looks like they have finally hit the right spot.

The first time you launch Access 12 you are greeted by a welcome screen, a refreshing look with access to common templates such as New database, Assets, Contacts, Issues, Project Tracking and Tasks, featuring bold and inviting pictorial representations of their category. On the left side there is a Pane displaying links to additional templates, that range from Accounting and Finance to Sales and Travel. Some of these Templates are offered only through the Office Online service which is now integrated deep into the application which also means Internet Connection required.

On the right you have quick access to your most recent databases that you might have been working on. The interface definitely speaks convenience, but also gives you access to online information relating saving time on job or information about training, downloads and additional links to get you up and running with Office. Itís really a nice touch that makes the application a lot more inviting and just friendlier to use.

As you already know, Access 12 is also one of the core applications that utilize the new user interface. Using it in Access 12 its seems like a whole new product. The interface consists of five tabs, Data, Insert, Page Layout, External Data and Advanced Tools. Working with a database on a daily basis using a Table compiled of data I entered, itís pretty much the same experience using it compared to prior versions. Whatís cool though is the Modules Pane, which displays both the Table and data at the same time.

Data of course is used for data entry and manipulation. You get a wide range of options for formatting your database, from on the fly changing of your Font type to color. I guess you could say, a lot of focus is being made in areas of on screen use, data entry can become a tiresome process spending days in and out entering information using repetitive task, so a lot of thought has gone into this process to acknowledge the convenience of users who use applications such as this and utilize common in the features in the application on a regular basis.

Other formatting tools include Font alignment, which is probably something you are not gonna do much of in a database, but hey, itís in their. The next chunk is Data Type and Formatting, which displays quick access to number and currency options. Under Records you have common database features that you are accustomed to seeing in the application, such as adding a record, saving changes, editing, deleting and viewing sub data sheets. Next up is Sort & Filter, just like it says, allow you to search tables and apply advanced filtering options. The Editing chunk contains common tools for finding and spell checking your database, a nice bonus which makes for greater accuracy for information entered in a database.

You would guess that the Insert tab contains pretty much everything in Word 12, but its not. Features are displayed specific to Access 12, they include Tables and Lists, which contains buttons for adding a new Table or apply specific options such as adding a Contact, Tasks or Assets. SharePoint Lists is a new feature, this gives you the option to Save your Contacts data, Tasks, Issues to a SharePoint Portal Site, you can even edit an existing list that might be already available.

Forms includes pretty much all of what use to be in a New Wizard, familiar tools that make editing and formatting your database easier, next up is Reports you can use the Simple Reports button to create a quick report of your data in a Table or Ordinary Report for custom designs.

The External Data Tab in Access 12 has a whole lot more options available for integrating with other Office applications such as Word and Excel, under Get External Data, you options available for viewing saved data sources, such as another Access database, Excel Spreadsheet, Share Point List, Text or XML File. Export options contains the same button and links for exporting information from the same formats mentioned including Word documents and PDF.

Under Collect and Update, you have the Create E-mail button, which allows you to collect data from other people by sending them a data entry in an e-mail message. When users return the completed forms, you can choose to have the data in these forms processed and stored in an Access database. You can then manage your replies in the data collection Messages window.

Much of this is pretty overwhelming and ten percent of it I probably will never look at. But Access 12 is definitely catering to the Enterprise user, giving users new ways of exploiting and managing their information and extending to the rest of Office, products such as SharePoint Portal Server and applications such as Office Outlook.

Advanced Tools is the last Tab in Access 12, here you have four different categories which include, Analyze, Upsize To, Database Tools and Macro. Under Analyze, you have Relationships which is an association of data joined between two tables with similar fields. Upsize to SharePoint allows you to migrate your database to SharePoint for data entry, other tools include Up Size to SQL and Database Splitter, tools which I probably wonít even use once in my life time.

The Database Tools category contains features for applying security settings to your database such as permissions and passwords, control your Add-In Manager for tools used to enhance the product, other features include synchronize, Encode/Decode Database.

Access 12 is an overwhelming update to interface wise, with new tools that enhance its existing offerings, from better integration with Office applications to Server ones such as SharePoint. This release should be a definite hit with the Enterprise user who does a lot of group work and data entry. About the interface, itís refreshing, more convenient and easier to use. With new Templates and online integration Access 12 is really moving forward, especially after past lack luster releases that did not provide enough incentives for upgrading; this release will surely exceed many usersí expectations.


 ę PowerPoint 12 Conclusion Ľ


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