Microsoft Access is a full service database program that has been in development since 1992. While it is not as robust as other corporate database platforms, its usability makes it ideal for organizing small data sets, making it a great choice for personal and small business use. Another advantage is that it is quite inexpensive, making it competitive comparable to the heavy duty competition. Compared to most of the other programs in the Microsoft Office suite, Access is one of the lesser used ones, although it does have its applications in certain business environments.
The first version of Access was released in late 1992. The software worked well with relatively small data sets, but when the amount of information started to get much larger, data corruption and slowness became a serious issue. Part of the problem was the rapidly increasing amounts of computer memory becoming available at the time - the strength of the hardware available outpaced the skill of software developers, and customer expectations were as such difficult to predict.
As the program continued to improve, more features were added. Access became a development platform for relatively small scale programs, making it a useful tool even for programmers, amateur or otherwise, because of its usage as a launching platform for small but handy applications.
The changing needs of businesses rapidly made older versions of Access obsolete. The data stored in older versions of the program cannot be read by versions of the software released after Access 97. Most databases were converted over the years to newer versions to prevent Year 2000 related bugs from surfacing.
The various graphical wizards are very useful for newer users to develop database queries. So long as there isn't much data involved and there aren't many simultaneous users, Access is a good business solution. If the data becomes more important later on, it is possible to use the Access "upsizing" feature to upgrade it to the Microsoft SQL Server system.