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The Access Wizard Newsletter Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Access Users and Developers
November 2010

When to Upgrade to the Latest Access Version

It's fun to get new stuff. When we were kids, Christmas was a huge deal. Everybody got a bunch of new stuff in nice, shiny wrapping paper. The same thing happened on birthdays. The lucky birthday boy or girl got nifty new presents.

Now that we are a bit older (in some cases quite a bit older), we usually don't get so excited when Christmas and birthdays roll around; however, we still like to get new things. There's an old saw that says the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys -- and to some extent that is true.

If you are a heavy Office user are or a developer, it is a big deal when Microsoft puts out a new version of their software. There is a natural tendency is want to get the latest thing right away. This month, we will take a look at why it is a good idea to wait for a bit before getting the shiny new version of the software.

In this Issue
  • Tip of the Month - How to Get the Latest Access Version
  • The Flow of Software Versions
  • Why to Avoid the First Release of a New Version
  • Conclusion

  • The Flow of Software Versions

    Periodically, Microsoft will release new versions of Access. Most of the changes are minor and the name won't change (e.g., Access 2003 went through 11 minor versions and 3 service packs). In some cases, you will get these automatically. In other cases, you may have to go after them (see Tip of the Month to learn how to get the latest versions and service packs).

    The big deal comes when Microsoft officially changes the marquis name: Access 97, Access 2000, Access XP, Access 2003, Access 2007, and just recently out Access 2010.

    Some of these versions are clearly superior to their predecessor, while others are a step back. Access XP was a glitchy product, while 2003 was solid; Access 2007 was riddled with bugs, and the early reports of 2010 are positive.

    Unless you have a compelling need, there is no reason to swap to the latest available version. People spent significant time and money digging out from problems embedded in Access 2007. Although 2010 looks good right now, it is best to wait for at lease 6 months so that any bugs can be found and eliminated - you'll know that the early bugs have been discovered and killed when Microsoft puts out a .1 version.


    Why to Avoid the First Release of a New Version

    A company like Microsoft does a great job of touting the benefits of its new releases. Sometimes the benefits are real. For instance, when Microsoft went from DOS to Windows, it made users much more productive.

    In other cases, the changes are merely cosmetic, or may even be a step backward. For instance, with the release of Access 2007, Microsoft completely changed the user interface. The program went from the familiar menu to what they called a ribbon. This caused users a lot of wasted time figuring out where Microsoft hid various menu items. Eventually, of course, you get used to the new interface. However with 2007, Microsoft also changed several things in the core software and introduced a host of bugs along with poor backward compatibility.

    The smart folks paid attention to the bloggers and developers who said to avoid this product. I'm happy to say that 95% of my customers were alert enough not to fall into the trap of the latest release of a Microsoft product.

    With the advent of Access 2010, it looks like Microsoft has gotten it right. Although they've stayed with the unfortunate ribbon, the 2007 bugs seem to have been killed and the product is much more stable.

    But, again, it is best to wait a bit until the .1 version comes out. The reason for this is that it is not until a product is in the hands of many users that bugs can surface. No matter how much testing a developer or a development team does, there will still be bugs. It's only with real live people banging away at software that problems can be discovered and fixed. And with the release of a .1 version most of the important bugs will have been uncovered and resolved. For this reason, it is always best to wait for about six months after a major upgrade before jumping on board.


    Conclusion

    Let other folks find the bugs and wait a bit before a moving to the latest version of Access, or any other program. Put your enthusiasm on hold to make sure the new wiz-bang software works the way it's supposed to and that it's reasonably bug free.


    Tip of the Month - How to Get the Latest Access Version

    To check your version of Access, go to Tools/About and you will see a box giving you the version information as well as the Service Pack (indicated by the letters SP followed by a number).

    To see the latest releases for your version of Office, go to the following internet site:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/ee748587.aspx

    This site will show you the latest service pack, if any, for your version. If you don't have the latest service pack, you will want to get it because Microsoft will have made important changes to the software that eliminates nasty bugs, and will have likely tightened security also.

    On that page, you will find links that will allow you to download and install the upgrade.

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