Microsoft to Offer Access Conversion Toolkit

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Acknowledging that upgrading Access databases has proven to be a major stumbling block to Office 2003 upgrades, the company says its toolkit will head off potential incompatibilities.

SAN DIEGO—Acknowledging that upgrading Access databases has proven to be a major stumbling block to Office 2003 upgrades, Microsoft unveiled at TechEd 2004 here a toolkit designed to head off potential incompatibilities.

The Microsoft Access Conversion Toolkit includes a new scanning tool, a reporting front-end and various e-learning documentation that will streamline Office 2003 deployments, according to the company.

Microsoft also is making some changes to Access 2003 itself, which it will include in Office 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), company officials said. The toolkit is aimed expressly at customers who need to move from Access 97 to Access XP, Access 2002 or Access 2003, Microsoft executives said.

The new toolkit is scheduled to ship simultaneously with Office 2003 SP1. Office 2003 SP1 was slated to ship in June; Microsoft officials are now saying to expect it in mid-July.

A free trial version of the beta of the tool is available for download here.

Microsoft officials here admitted that customers have had a variety of problems in attempting to move to the most recent versions of Access.

Among them: inability to convert databases with uncompiled code; bogus references to old type libraries that are in old Microsoft Office Access Databases (MDB); and no group policy control for assisting with conversion to or from 2003.

Jon Sigler, a group product manager in the Information Worker Business Unit, told eWEEK that the toolkit had been developed to specifically address the concerns and issues Access 97 users were having about migrating their data to Access XP or Access 2003.

Microsoft is readying a new Office bridging tool. Click here to read more.

Also, over the past 18 months, Microsoft had seen an increasing number of Access customers on 97 looking to go to the 2003 version, Siegler said, particularly as Microsoft support for Office and Access 97 has ended and as many of them were on enterprise agreements with software assurance and thus already held licenses for these newer products.

"But many customers were still fearful about moving from Access 97 to Access XP or Access 2003, as they were concerned about conversion issues," Siegler said. "There were file format changes between these versions and other issues, and we realized that these concerns were actually becoming a deployment blocker for Office."

Click here to read a review of Office 2004 for Mac.

Microsoft has responded to customer feedback, and the toolkit will include a scanning tool that looks for Access databases and pulls file-level properties. But customers' expectations that large interventions would be required and that they'd have problems migrating their data have not happened, he said.

"We did a pilot of the toolkit with some customers and found that they had a lot of fear around conversion issues, whether they were moving to XP or 2003, but less than 2 percent of them required conversion help or experienced issues around this," Siegler said.

"The toolkit is targeted at those customers who already hold licenses for XP and 2003 and who have a deep dependency on Access and fear that their business will be shut down if they migrate," Siegler said. "That has proven not to be the case, and the toolkit will also be fully supported by us."

Check out eWEEK.com's Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Be sure to add our eWEEK.com developer and Web services news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...