Microsoft to add Access database to Office 365 Business

The company plans to add major data source connectors early next year.

Microsoft announced last Friday that it is bringing Access, the personal database program from its Office productivity suite, to Office 365 Business and Business Premium plans. It has been available for other 365 subscriptions, including ProPlus, E3 and E5 subscriptions, and the consumer plans.

Access will be included in the next client update to Business/Business Premium subscribers, which will roll out between the beginning of December and the end of January. Customers on the deferred channel will have to wait until June 2017.

The big question is where will it fit in. Access has become an afterthought in the Office suite as Microsoft has shifted all of its efforts to SQL Server. There is even an Express Edition designed to run on a low-resource system. But Microsoft has given some indication of its strategy in the blog post announcing the news of availability.

Access is a great database management solution for small businesses because it makes collecting and storing data accessible on the desktop—without requiring support from an IT administrator. Access enables users to develop business applications, collect and analyze data from multiple sources, and track any kind of data, from a customer contact list to robust asset management.

There will also be new enterprise data connectors for users on the ProPlus, E3 and E5 plans. These include OData Feed, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and Amazon Redshift. They will be made available in early 2017, and Microsoft promises more on the way.

Office 365 Business and Business Premium are the SMB versions of Office 365, costing just $8.00 or $12.50 per user per month, respectively. The subscription includes all of the traditional Office apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and Publisher -- and now Access.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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