Let's face it: Access 95 was a dud! While it had lots of promising new features (including replication, Visual Basic for Applications, form classes, and a 32-bit database engine) when it was released a bit more than a year ago, it ran only on 32-bit Windows operating systems and the corporate world is just now making the move to Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Even if you made it over that hurdle, you've likely found that Access 95 is significantly slower than its predecessor, especially in user interface operations. Add Access 95's initial stability problems (most of which were corrected by a couple of patches), and you end up with a major release of Access that hardly anyone is using to develop serious corporate apps.
Will we ever be able to move beyond the aging Access 2.0? Until recently I wasn't so sure, but after working with various pre-release versions of Access 97 for several months now, I'm convinced that Access 97 will be a big seller. This is the release that Access 95 should have been! It's as fast or faster than Access 2.0 in many operations -- okay, I'll admit it's slower than Access 2.0 for some things, but it's still light years faster than Access 95. It offers VB-like class modules, partial replication, a modules collection, ODBC Direct, a native tab control, source-control hooks, and tons of improvements that make VBA programming easier -- even fun. And its integration with the Internet/intranet is nothing short of amazing. Is it perfect or without rough edges? Of course not, but what program is? I'm really excited about this new release.
Add these facts to the recent release of Windows NT 4.0 (which has been getting rave reviews) and you've got a hot new desktop database development environment. The only thing that could prevent Access 97 from being a big hit is if Microsoft ships it with some nasty, destabilizing bug, but I think that's pretty unlikely at this point.
To help you get acquainted with Access 97, we've dedicated this issue to it. So educate yourself about the new version, buy a copy as soon as it's released, and get ready for an exciting new year!