Why no MS Access for Mac???

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Luke1robb, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Luke1robb macrumors 6502a

    Luke1robb

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    #1
    Title says it all... why isn't there a Mac version of Microsoft Access? There shouldn't be anything standing in the way... is this MS trying to have the upper hand? Mac Business Unit folks out there? Please help me answer this question.
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #2
    I'm not from the Mac BU but here we go anyway :D

    Basically because the cost of developing it outweigh the amount of money they'd make from it. So it's not economically viable. Access is (or at least was) based on a really ancient database engine that was basically unportable. So they'd have to write a compatible, but portable (or Mac specific) engine from scratch. Which would cost $$$.
     
  3. rdowty macrumors 6502a

    rdowty

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    #3
    There's no VBA for Mac Office yet and they'll probably get that for Excel before they worry about Access.
     
  4. portent macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    And because they don't want to compete with FileMaker on the Mac.
     
  5. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #5
    There was in Office 2004, they just removed it for Office 2008. Apparently it is coming back in the next version.
     
  6. Luke1robb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Luke1robb

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    #6
    I don't understand why competition would scare them away. They brought Excel (Numbers), Word (Pages), and PowerPoint (Keynote) to the Mac despite competition.
     
  7. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #7
    You would do well to review the history of Access. (HINT: It ain't pretty.)
     
  8. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #8
    Word, Excel and Powerpoint were on the Mac way before Numbers, Pages or Keynote were even dreamed of by Apple.
     
  9. nadyne macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    There's two basic questions that we need to answer when talking about porting an app. This is true for any app that we could port, not just Access.
    1. What is the expense of porting the application? If the application is built using a lot of Windows-specific code and APIs, then the expense of porting the application is much higher than if not.
    2. What is the business need for the application? How many users want it, and how much are they willing to pay for it?

    "Expense of porting" isn't really about money, but is rather about time and the experience of the team that would develop it. When you're talking about an app as complex as Access, we couldn't just hire a bunch of fresh college grads and throw them at it. :) It's a place where we'd need highly-experienced Mac developers, and they'd need a fair amount of time to make it happen.

    In the particular case of Access, the cost of porting the application is high, and the business need hasn't yet been high enough for us to incur the cost of porting the application.

    We revisit our application portfolio frequently to make sure that we're still doing the right thing, so maybe that will change in the future. If this is important to you, you should submit a suggestion to us about it. Tell us why you want Access on your Mac, how it impacts you to not have it, and what you're doing because you don't have it. If you work for a large company, you should instead route this feedback to your Microsoft account rep.

    Regards,
    Nadyne.
     
  10. mongrol macrumors regular

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    #10
    Actually, if you work for a large company you shouldn't be using Access at all.
     
  11. larkost macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    As Cromulent already pointed out, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint were all on MacOS X long before Apple introduced the iWork suite. But it goes even further than that: Excel came out for the Mac 2 years before it was ported to Windows (which in pre 3.0 versions was fairly unused when Word and Excel came out), and Microsoft Word was one of the first programs for sale for the Macintosh in 1984.

    The real reasons are probably a mixture of the difficulty of porting the legacy codebase that is Access, the desire to make sure that some businesses feel locked-in to the Windows platform (since they have custom code written in Access supporting critical parts of their business), and the perceived difficulty of breaking into the Mac database market (because of the strength of FileMaker and others like 4D).
     
  12. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #12
    To say nothing of the overwhelming superiority of FileMaker and 4D.
     
  13. Old Muley macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

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    #13
    I have one vendor I work with that uses Access for data exports. Ugh, what a bag of hurt that is! We ended up developing a solution that does a quick export out of Access and then import into Filemaker to do the real work. And this is all on a Windows XP machine!
     
  14. Luke1robb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Luke1robb

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    #14
    To better explain my situation...

    I go to Bryant University in RI and we are given Lenovos T61 at the beginning of our Freshman and Junior years (I sold mine this year and bought a unibody Macbook). I've been trying to convince the IT department to open the program up to a choice (students could choose Macbook or Lenovo). Its an uphill battle to say the least.

    In our CIS classes (everyone's required to take one) we use Access. As a result, I was hoping that a mac version would be released so I could use it in any classes I need it or in future business or careers. I have an internship coming up this summer that I may or may not be using Access. It would be nice not to ruin my unibody by putting Windows on it, but its looking more and more like that will have to happen. Also, I need to use Excel pretty elaborately next semester and I'm pretty sure Excel for Mac (which I got the free trial yesterday for) will not suffice. Can anyone give any insight on this?
     
  15. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #15
    Some random comments:
    • Access was based on dBase III Plus.
    • Years ago, Microsoft purchased FoxPro for it's Rushmore technology.
    • Access is not unicode friendly.

    Actually, VBA was supported up through Office 2004.

    The MBU will be bringing back VBA support in the next edition. Thankfully. :)

    This makes no sense at all.

    Why would Microsoft not want to compete with FileMaker?

    A quick little history for you.

    Excel was created for the Mac platform first. Then around version 3.1 it was ported over to Windows.

    In 1997, Microsoft released Office 97 for the PC, then in 1998, Microsoft released Office 98 for the Mac. These were my favorite versions when it came to the menu system. They were identical on both platforms.

    To this day, I don't see why Microsoft doesn't develop identical office suites for Mac, Windows and Unix/Linux platforms all available on one install DVD. This way you purchase one copy and you can install it on your platform of choice. Also make it multi-lingual and support Unicode across the board. Everything should be identical on all three platforms. This means 100% compatible with the same menus, features, etc.

    One, this would make Office a much better standardized suite. And two, it would spur sales because individuals could purchase one version that would work on whatever they have at home which would complement their work Office suite. Microsoft wins either way. As it is now, the MBU looses sales everyday due to compatibility, lack of VBA and other issues not to mention there is no Access equivalent.

    Unfortunately, it seems that Microsoft does not seem to think in these terms.

    What's really interesting is back in 1986 there was a company called Aston-Tate that released dBase Mac for the Mac OS. It was awesome. In fact, it wasn't until 2002, that Access caught up with with dBase Mac when it came to creating relationships graphically by dragging your mouse.

    Thanks for your post Nadyne.

    My suggestion is above. With the talent at Microsoft, I would venture to say that this could be done within a few years if Microsoft wanted to do it.

    Mac sales are growing. Most I know who run office and need 100% compatibility with the Windows version run Office 2007 on the Mac via virtualization via VMware or Parallels. Just think how many more sales the MBU would have if these same individuals could purchase Office for the Mac that would be the same.

    Here's hoping to the day that Microsoft releases Office 20xx that contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook for all three platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux) on one nice install DVD. Now that would be suite, er. sweet! :)

    For right now, I would suggest that if you need 100% compatibility with the Windows version of Office, you are better off using VMware or Parallels to run Windows XP and then install Office 2007.
     
  16. Luke1robb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Luke1robb

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    #16
    I would imagine by the time this happens DVDs won't be used anymore, most likley over-the-air or thumb drive. I could see this happening to all software before 2015. Thoughts?

    Thanks Sushi for the advice and comments. I am coming to the sad realization that this is what I'll have to do, although I might just do Boot Camp and no VMA, but we'll see. Seeing as VMWare and Parallels are so inexpensive with upgrades and rebates, I guess it would be silly not to get one. Now, I just need to find a inexpensive upgrade CD for Windows (Mac OS X is an upgradable version of Windows). Maybe I can get one from my Lenovo-only IT department... ohh the irony.
     
  17. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #17
    Are you sure? Microsoft purchased FoxPro after it introduced Access. FoxPro was a dBase clone. dBase was a veteran personal computer DBMS. At the time, it appeared to be a hedge against Access's prospects. Access turned out to be one of the worst products ever put on the market. A majority of its licensees lost data. If it had not been included in the Office bundle, then Access would have died within weeks of its introduction.
     
  18. nadyne macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I seem to recall having this conversation with you in the past. :)

    Mac users have very different expectations than Windows users. I know that you liked Office 98, but I'm pretty convinced that you're the only person in the whole world. :) I've long since lost count of the number of Mac users who have come up to me and told me that they absolutely hated Office 98 and never ever want us to walk down that path again. To compare it to the number of people who've told me that they wish we'd do another Office 98 ... well, I'm up to one request, so far. :)

    There's plenty of places where it just doesn't make sense for us to simply follow Office for Windows. For example, we want to plug into the right technologies for our Mac users: all the Core technologies, Spotlight, AppleScript, Automator, ... The list is extensive. Likewise, we want to support other apps on the platform that our users rely on, such as iPhoto.

    Now, that said, if you can prove to us that the sales that you posit we'd gain from being 100% identical to Windows Office would be greater than the number of sales that we'd lose for not being a good Mac application, then you might want to put together a pitch deck and send it to our marketing team to see if you can get a gig with us and make your vision happen. :)

    Regards,
    Nadyne.
     
  19. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #19
    Yep, 100% sure this is true:
    to add: ...technology to incorporate it into Access.

    Nice to be remembered. :)

    Let me be clear.

    I liked Office 98 because the interface was the same as Office 97. This allowed for seamless use between the two versions.

    As for the capabilities and other, Office 97/98 ... no I won't go there other than to say it left a lot to be desired.

    This is why I worry about Microsoft management.

    With Office you can customize the heck out of it. What is so hard about having a simple toggle button for example, that allows the Mac version to have an interface like the PC version or be Mac like?

    What I can tell you, is that when I work with switchers, this is how it goes:

    Switcher: Will my copy of Microsoft Office 2003/7 work on the Mac.

    Me: No. There is a really cool version of Office for the Mac. See. I demonstrate Office for the Mac.

    Switcher: So it is 100% compatible?

    Me: Well, yes, mostly.

    Switcher: So there is VBA support?

    Me: Well no.

    Switcher: Is there Access?

    Me. No.

    Switcher: How about Outlook? Not OE but real Outlook?

    Me. Um. No.

    Switcher: I notice the interface is different. Why is the Mac version different?

    Me. Well to take advantage of the Mac's GUI and feature set.

    Switcher: But it's not like the PC version. So that means I will have to lern a new interface.

    Me: True. It's not all that different and you can do the same things.

    Switcher: Except VBA and Access, right.

    Me: Well true.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    The end result is this. I usually recommend getting VMware/Parallels, run XP and Office 2003 or 2007.

    Nadyne, I know that you mean well so I will offer you this. I work with military and government types. At work they have PCs. When taking work home, they don't want to spend the time learning a different interface from work. It's simply not worth it to them. The same holds true for those I know who work in Fortune 500 companies. There is a huge sales potential being completely missed by Microsoft because the Mac and PC versions are not the same. Just think of all the individuals out there in government, military and Fortune 500 types that would love to use the Mac version of Office at home decide it is better and much easier to use the Windows version because it's obviously 100% compatible, has Access and Outlook. Anyhow, I hope someday that Microsoft will consider releasing cross platform, 100% compatible, office suite that includes Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. I know that I am probably dreaming, but what the heck? :)

    Maybe, just maybe. :)

    I am frustrated that I cannot use Office for the Mac instead of Office for the PC. Unfortunately, I have to use both. I much prefer Office for the Mac but when it comes to compatibility I have no choice but to use Office for the PC. Sad.

    As for Windows, you might be able to find an OEM version that you can use. Both Parallels and VMware are good. They both have trial versions. Give them both a try and then you can decide which works better for you.
     
  20. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #20
    This statement is both accurate and profound. I wish that more cross-platform developers understood this basic fact. Members of this forum would also do well to contemplate its full implications.
     
  21. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #21
    Okay, this brings up a good question. What is a Mac user?

    I can think of these types of Mac users from top of my head:
    • Always have used Macs from day one. Expect everything to be Mac like.
    • Always have used Macs from day one, but work in a PC centric environment. These users usually have Macs at home and use PCs at work.
    • Switchers. Individuals who have changed from the PC to the Mac. From my experience, many would like to use Mac only software, but in the case of Office are forced to use the PC version because they need VBA, Access and Outlook. They also get frustrated at the Office suite interface differences.
    • Have used both platforms from day one (DOS 1.0 and the first Mac). These folks generally use both and like the different features of both, but like common interfaces as it makes it easier to use.
    Office allows for customization of menu bars and such. Why not simply have a toggle that allows Mac like interface for those who want it and an identical PC interface for those who have to use each on a daily basis. While it would take a bit to implement this, it is not rocket science.
     
  22. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #22
    Clearly, you have never built a rocket, not have you ever developed a computer application. There are applications that sort of do what you suggest. They have selectable themes, Firefox would be an obvious example. If you had ever closely examined the widgets in different themes in an application that supports this feature, then you would known that not all themes are equal. Some appear to be native. Others are shoehorned and/or stretched to fit. Beneath the most obvious level, you have something that really is neither fish nor foul. Firefox may have many virtues, but behaving like a true Mac or Windows application are not among them. What you are talking about is probably an order of magnitude more complex that Firefox themes.
     
  23. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #23
    You assume a great deal, but that's okay. :)

    Regarding themes and my idea:

    Boat <--------------------------------> You

    Sorry.

    It definitely would not be simple, but then again, it's not rocket science either. I can think of a couple ways to approach this concept as I am sure the talented programmers at Microsoft can as well.
     
  24. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #24
    Yes. Rocket science is easier by orders of magnitude.
     
  25. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #25
    Beg to differ.

    Here's what Wikipedia says in describing Rocket science:

    I would venture to say that Rocket science is a bit tougher than developing software applications. But that's just me. :)

    Anyhow, we are getting a bit off topic here. The original question was in the thread title. I believe that it has been answered.

    To finish, who knows what Microsoft has up it's sleeve or will be developing. Personally, I am a fan of Office for the Mac and PC. I use it for work and personal tasks. Maybe that is why I am so passionate to see a identical cross platform suite with the same menus and interface, but yet, at the same time have the option for Mac specific.
     

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