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Microsoft Access is a pseudo-relational database engine from Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications that also includes Word, Outlook and Excel, among others. Access is also available for purchase as a stand-alone product. Access uses the Jet Database Engine for data storage.
Access is used for both small and large database deployments. This is partly due to its easy-to-use graphical interface, as well as its interoperability with other applications and platforms such as Microsoft’s own SQL Server database engine and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
The Access Jet engine supports most database features, such as referential integrity, row-level locking and multiuser support with up to 255 concurrent user connections. Access is well-suited for creating small databases such as those used by single departments. It is not suitable for larger, enterprise-level databases. For these, Microsoft offers its SQL Server database engine.
Access was first released as version 1.0 in November 1992. The software was fine while working with small databases but in larger files there was the danger of data corruption. With each release of Office, Microsoft has also included a newer version of Access, each of which includes new or updated features.
With the release of Access 2007, the database file format changed from the previous ".mdb" to ".accdb". This new format supports more complex data types, but unfortunately is not compatible with prior versions of the Access software. This is analogous to the new ".docx" and ".xlsx" formats in Word and Excel, which are also incompatible with the pre-2007 versions of these programs.