Microsoft Surface: Get ready for Access on a tablet

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

MS Access Report Generator

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.



About the Author:

Juan Soto is a Senior Access Developer at IT Impact Inc. and a Microsoft Access MVP. He specializes in Access with SQL Server databases. His passion for Access has led him to helping a wide range of businesses in helping them establish a secure, stable and efficient environment with SQL Server. He's a frequent speaker at Access user groups nationwide and recently spoke at the Orange County SQL Saturday # 73. If you wish to have Juan speak at your next group meeting you can contact him here.


  1. Frank November 19, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Given the Tablet’s (IOS or Android) mobility and the demand for database capability, why isn’t it there. Surely there are any number of entrepreneurs that can see the profit potential. I’m no longer well versed on the raw capabilities of chips and operating systems so my question is: Does a common tablet platform (say, a Samsung Galaxy 10.1) with the latest version of the Android operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich, I think)have the processing power to run Microsoft Access; i.e., is it possible to duplicate the Microsoft Access loaded on my Windows 7 laptop with a upper level Intel chip such that everything in Microsoft Access essentially looks the same and works the same on a Samsung Galaxy 10.1? If that is possible, why isn’t Microsoft or one of its competitors working on the project? If it’s not possible, why not? What is the stopper? Processing power of tablet chips?? Capability of IOS and/or Ice Cream Sandwich? I would really appreciate these questions being addressed by someone with the knowledge, technical intellect, and communication skills that can formulate a comprehensive yet concise answer.

  2. Dhaifullah Alkhaldi September 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    SELECT Microsoft_Surface_Tablet FROM Hand_Held_Devises WHERE (((Is_It_Support_MS_ACCESS)=True));

  3. Mudhafar July 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Juan, you’re reading my mind. However, I don’t see Microsoft as agile. Their response is always late, especially for Access. Speaking of iPad and tablets, we need more focus on graphics. Icons should readily accept png formats, icon libraries should be much richer with glossy finish, and how about some animation. And how about graph animation?

  4. Erwin June 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Hi juan, the access developer portal site is quite static for some time now. but the access forum is quite active but almost all questions are too basic. What’s your thought on the future of access in a web/mobile world?
    Since MS is now starting to engage in tablets with full blown windows OS, what’s your thought about the future of android and iphone? maybe this time i will have my interest on buying tablet
    if the price is lower than ultrabooks.

    if the price

    • Juan Soto June 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      Both platforms have great advantages but I use only IOS: IPhone, IPad and MacBook Air. I love how they have a specific purpose in my life, but the only one that does Access is the Air using parallels.

  5. David Harris June 24, 2012 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Hi Juan

    Yay, Finally a Tablet that will run Access, a wee bit late but well done Microsoft, just hope I can afford to buy one?

    Kind regards

    • Juan Soto June 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm - Reply


      Looks like they me be too pricey, let’ hope that’s not the case…

  6. dickM June 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Juan …. Gawd I hope you’re right on this. Let’s see how the Access Team messes this up ;-).


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