Having read the posts in the various Access areas. It appears there are two type of people commenting. Real developer who are complaining and have been for sometime. And those who have never written a line of code and are impressed with presentation.
Developing in Access 2003 VS Access 2007
I have to say that I have developed for both 2003 and 2007. However application UI changes 2003 is about 10 to 20 times faster to develop in. For this reason where possible I develop in Access 2003 or develop in 2003 and convert to 2007.
Access 2003 kicks *
Developing in Access 2003 VS C# and WPF
I developed in four months an application in Access 2003 for global multi national that had over 500 users world wide and over 4tb of Access MDB storage (Smartly segmented database files).
The application was accessible form the web as well. I have a bit of an engineering background as well so I know a few dirty tricks for getting straight Access on to the web with no special server technology required.
I am sure there are others here who have done more sophisticated applications. But I like to think I’ve earned my mud.
My application was met to be a working prototype. However it went intro production 100% bug free. After six months I was ask to come back and write enhancements to it as the C# developer were behind schedule. The only bug they had found in my application was an error message at shut down due to the custom role based security system.
It took to C# developers 18 month to convert the application to SQL and C# and another 6 before all the bugs were removed.
Again Access 2003 kicks *.
I am not going to go into Silverlight development for business database applications. As having observed first had development of a three tear Silverlight, C#, MS-SQL solution it is a nightmare and a sad state of affairs for everyone. However see my predicted The Future of Development at the end of my article.
Why Was Access 2003 Is So Good
Microsoft developed Access to dominate the desktop database application market. This was originally dominated by Dbase and its variants, Paradox and Clarion. As soon as these products died; were kill off by Access and VB after year 2000.
Around the year 2000 the next major function developers wanted was to be able to use or port Access application to the Web (AKA IIS). This never happened and Access received only bad cosmetic UI changes since.
Why Access after 2003 Is So Crap
As they had reach dominance in the sector and there were other makets to invest there revenue in. They has also bundled the application with Office which was another nail in the coffin from a revenue and perception point of view.
Adding Access as a primarily Office product changed the perspective of the product with the goal of being a professional rapid application development tool to an end user tool.
This bundling meant Microsoft makes very little money selling Access as it is part of the Office Suite. Yet Microsoft has to provide extensive range of support and tools to allow Access developers to continue developing with it.
Mean while Visual Studio had become a massive cash cow. Selling Visual Studio, (VisualBasic, C++, J# etc and later C# and Web Developer), Addons, Books, Training and Examines.
Had Microsoft add the interactive Web functionality that Access developers wanted there would have been less investment and upgrading in Visual Studio and this is why Access evolution stopped unofficially between 2000 or 2002.
Why SharePoint and Access 2007 and 2010
The reason Microsoft started adding SharePoint functionality to Access to the determent of the product, is Microsoft want to push a high revenue product SharePoint.
So expect Access to continue being dumbed down for end users with each version and to become less practical as a development environment. But above all do not expect Microsoft to listen to your request for real would functionality.
The SharePoint functionality maybe what Microsoft want, but having done SharePoint development. I know any application built on or using SharePoint technology in anyway shape or form is very slow and cumbersome.
They may make Access and SharePoint look good in the demo, but I doubt if you could find a real world use that would be able to perform responsively and be fully function and professional.
From on experienced and from developer to another don't even think of mixing SharePoint and Access, if your application is anything more than the most basic of solutions. SharePoint server will crawl along like crippled ants (to quote Tolken). I’m not going to go into the Architecture of how SharePoint innards work, but trust me.
The Future of Database Application Development
The future us Silverlight, C#, MS-SQL. This will be either Silverlight 4 and Visual Studio 2010 with one of the Open Source Frameworks. Presently Silverlight the Framework available are to immature. However Silverlight 4 and VisualStudio 2010 appear to remedy this to some degree and the Open Source RAD Framework projects starting to appear on CodePlex and other place will remedy this.
My recommendation is to forget pleading with Microsoft to fix Access anything will be too little to late. Instead keep developing in Access 2003. Learn Silverlight, C# and look for a RAD Framework on CodePlex that fits your need.
When the time is right you wll be ready to jump ship to SilverLight.
If you find a good Framework post the project name hear so we can all check it out as the more support he Framework gets the faster it will mature.