Microsoft last Monday held a press conference to demo a new tablet called Surface, you can catch the 90 second summary here.

One Killer Feature missing on Tablets: Corporate Databases

There is no way to enter, store and upload data to corporate databases using existing tablet technologies without using Access web services, (limiting), or using Websites, (expensive to develop and requires constant internet connections, not always available). Businesses revolve around data, mountains of it, and none of it is easy to produce, consume and use on a tablet today.

Microsoft Access on the IPad

Currently, the only way to run Access on the IPad is to use LogMeIn Ignition or Jump app, I’ve used both and prefer the latter, but it has it’s drawbacks: you need an Internet connection and you tie up a PC on the other end, and for anyone who works in the remote confines of this nation can attest to, a good Internet connection may not always be available.

Why Access on a tablet is such a great combination

Microsoft will be releasing two versions: one using a low powered CPU called Windows RTM and a professional version with a full blown Windows 8. During the press conference they demoed using the latter with a desktop keyboard and monitor, meaning it’s a full blown PC when you dock it on your desk. That also means you can run a full blown Access app on it too. It will allow Access developers to:

  • Create apps that cache data locally and then upload once the tablet is on a Internet connection
  • Allow us to leverage all of our code base, (compared to Access web services that only allows macros).
Designing your Access app for Surface
I personally look forward to deploying my apps to Surface and taking advantage of the Metro, swipe and Pen interfaces. You may need to rethink how you design your apps to make them easier to use in the field:
  • Take advantage of Metro and create an info tile for your app. Imagine seeing pop-up notifications on your tablet from Access! Stats can show up indicating the arrival of new records or events.
  • Maximize swipe gestures in your code: We may have to wait for a new Tablet optimized Access version for this feature, but I look forward to swiping gestures, for example, swipe to see the next record, swipe to close form, etc.
  • When you’re using fingers or a stylus you may have to provide users with bigger buttons or target areas.
Surface will not debut until later this year, (no dates were announced), so it will be a while before we get our hands on one and offer a more realistic assessment, but Access on Surface can be a real IPad killer combo and I for one look forward to leveraging the technology when it comes out.