Business partner of the vendor or vendor's competitor, not included in G2 Crowd scores.
What do you like best?
Microsoft Access is the industry leading desktop database creation tool for quick creation of relational SQL databases. It is an excellent tool for those not familiar with SQL - though add-ins, frameworks, templates & new Database Builder tools can help further simplify that, so truly don't need to learn SQL or VBA.
As a developer having used Microsoft Access, Excel, SQL and other data platforms and database building tools daily, when implementing tools and databases for clients - with 15 years of experience in developing data and automation solutions (with C#, Access, Excel, SQL, VBA, VB,NET and wide range of data platforms) - I can say with confidence that MS Access is by far the easiest to use for rapid database creation and most empowering for non-technical users to client.
I still continue to be impressed to this day by how innovative it is in enabling database creation by many who otherwise wouldn't be able to do so, and how it truly enables rapid database creation (hence why even SQL Server developers / DBAs use for prototyping).
MS Access is great for Excel users looking to scale-up from maintaining and merging dozens of copies of workbooks each with dozens of worksheet tabs. Beyond that, even SQL pros use it for easily prototyping, as can easily upscale to SQL Server, Azure SQL or other hosted databases using various tools available.
One of the key benefits of MS Access is that you can build, edit and maintain web/cloud/mobile-enabled multi-user databases entirely yourself, without requiring cost or hassle or involving IT or contracting consultants every time you want to make even the most minor change, as is the case for most subject matter experts (non-developers) for most other database solutions.
** Microsoft Access for Web / Mobile (via RemoteApp RDP) Alternative **
With the deprecation of Access Web Apps (AWA), Access Web Databases and Access Services for SharePoint, Microsoft Access desktop databases are the most clear cut substitute, even offering more capabilities (VBA, Design View, etc.) compared to AWAs.
Multi-user Access Databases are easiest to build and create, and are arguably even easier and more intuitive to work with, and far less limited compared to Common Data Services, as well as easiest to scale up to SQL Server or Azure SQL Database later if needed.
With RemoteApp – a specialized form of Remote Desktop (RDP) / Terminal Services – you can stream a full-featured Access desktop window straight to mobile device, full-screen, without dealing with desktop, app launching, taskbar, etc.. This scales very well, allowing even hundreds of simultaneous users all from hosting on a single Windows Server or (using an extension for Access to help configure) even from any single Windows desktop PC, allowing connection from iPad, iPhone, Android, Tablets, Macs, Windows PCs and Web Browsers.
Using Access extensions, you can even simplify and enable user authentication with user view/edit permissions, edit tracking/rollback, via password, authorized devices or Active Directory.
What do you dislike?
However, Microsoft Access hasn't evolved much in recent years, and VBA coding can be tedious, especially with it's VBA IDE/editor (VBE), based on a much older version of Visual Studio.
As a developer who's built and improved many different Access databases, reporting & import/export/sync automation solutions, and Excel-to-Access database migrations, I've faced a number of Excel workbooks which perform auto-calculation (of investments, projections, forecasting, tax credits, etc.) which couldn't be converted due to business requirements, which require use of truly iterative (complex recursive or circular calculation, where row's field values are based on previous row's values, and which can't be distilled down into a subquery, etc.), which isn't possible out-of-box (without extensions like PowerSQL or PowerAccess) with Access SQL Queries.
However, there are add-ins, templates and other tools that can be used with MS Access to address these issues to modernize and automate Microsoft Access, making it truly something that can be used without knowing or learning SQL or VBA, by those without nothing more than experience using Excel:
For example, PowerAccess for Microsoft Access (https://poweraccess.net) is an install-free framework & template, with an optional add-in providing new productivity, automation and development tools, like for Automated Database Builder tools, Global Find & Replace, Cloud Sync, Multi-User Web/Cloud Deploy Setup, and integrated simplified Git source version control to enable collaborative editing of database forms, VBA code and other objects.
Also, RubberDuck VBA (http://rubberduckvba.com) helps with VBA macro coding productivity to extend the VBE (the integrated VBA Code/Macro IDE Editor, basically very old version of Visual Studio) with some newer, more modern tools for coding productivity.
There are other add-ins and templates that can drastically simplify and automate use of Microsoft Access, addressing its stagnated development, but those are some of the ones I've found make the biggest difference in modernizing, automating and simplifying daily use of Microsoft Access, SQL and VBA.
Though there haven't been too many new features in Microsoft Access in recent years, new data connectors and other features have been released since Microsoft Access 2016 was released, and it's now included in most Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions and Office 2016 editions, with new features coming down the pipeline.
Recommendations to others considering the product
** Microsoft Access + RemoteApp for Multi-User Web & Mobile Use **
I would recommend multi-user Microsoft Access databases + RemoteApp as all around better alternative to PowerApps - more full-featured, with VBA and user-defined function support, extensibility, without need for using separate products (like Microsoft Flow and Common Data Service) to supplement PowerApps lacking features.
** Hundreds of Simultaneous Access DB Users even over Cellular Connections **
Access + RemoteApp (scalable, app window only remote desktoping) can even be used with hundreds of simultaneous users from Mobile (iPad, iPhone, Android, Tablet), Mac, Web Browsers as well as Windows PCs without ever even showing a desktop or need to launch an app, simulating a native mobile/web app. This can be hosted from a single Windows Server, or Azure, or Windows desktop PC (as enabled via Access extensions).
** Multi-User Access Databases for PCs & Macs **
At the same time, such multi-user Access databases can be used directly from other PCs (even without RemoteApp RDP) while also allowing direct access from Windows PCs (eg. via VPN / Network File Share) and even from Macs (eg. by installing Microsoft Access on a Mac with Parallels in Coherence Mode or VMware Fusion in Unity Mode)
Microsoft Access can also be used for multi-user databases for hundreds of simultaneous users via RemoteApp with excellent performance even over cellular .data connections, and which can host from any Windows Server (or any Windows PC, such as with an Access extension help setup configuration of that).
If you find Microsoft Access somewhat lacking in modern tools and automation, you could use together with add-ins or Access Framework extensions to modernize, extend and automate, while retaining the control and ease of use that Microsoft Access provides.
** Power BI vs PowerApps for Mobile & Web Front-end for Access or other Databases **
If that doesn't work for your needs, then Power BI (which can use Microsoft Access database as a backend) may often be a better alternative to PowerApps - sharing similar Mobile/Web/SharePoint/Embedded use support - if you don't need data entry/editing. Even if you do need data entry/editing, you can use Access (with easy form building) for that (as well as for multi-user viewing/reporting) and Power BI for BI Dashboards and web/mobile use/viewing.
If you need web and mobile data entry, and want to be able to easily design and edit the database yourself (without IT, developers or contractors) for a truly no-code solution, then you may want to consider using Power BI front-end (eg. for BI Dashboard) + Microsoft Access database backend (such as via On-premises Data Gateway).
Microsoft Power BI is a similar, and overlapping in some ways alternative to PowerApps, if you don't need data entry / editing support. It even is excellent at building interactive, drill-down dashboards with custom sort and filtering (though these can also be done in Access).
Even though Power BI and PowerApps share the same On-premesis Data Gateway (allowing access to files, data, etc. on the PC it's installed in by the Power BI/PowerApps server), for some reason, PowerApps doesn't allow connections to Access Databases through it, like Power BI does.
** Modernizing, Automating and Extending Microsoft Access and Accelerating Excel-to-Access Database **
Whether you are a Microsoft Access guru and just want to save time with rapid database development & minimizing boilerplate VBA coding or are new to Access and databases, get started using MS Access together with PowerAccess, PowerSQL, PowerGit & RubberDuck VBA to streamline and simplify database creation and migrating Excel workbooks to web/cloud/mobile-enabled multi-user databases each don't require consultants or IT to build, edit, or maintain.
Microsoft Access is far more intuitive, easier to use and automate, easier to prototype with and deploy, for pros and novices alike.
This is especially the case when using Microsoft Access together with the powerful add-ins templates, and install-free extensions available for it, such as PowerAccess, PowerSQL, PowerGit and RubberDuck VBA.
MS Access, combined with those extensions, has drastically simplified multi-user collaborative editing, creation, use of automated of multi-user web/cloud/mobile-enabled databases for us and our clients for Ad-Hoc Analysis. Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards, Estimates/Quotes, CRM, Project Planning tools, Financial Analysis & Planning (FP&A) & Accounting tools, Automated Reporting, and many other types of projects it's best suited for handling.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Migrating massive Excel workbooks - with dozens or hundreds of difficult and time-consuming to maintain sheets, one for each project or report, with manual merging of copy for each user - to scalable, high-performance relational multi-user databases.
This enabled use beyond Windows PC for us, scaling up to hundreds of simultaneous users from web browser, mobile devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, tablet and other devices - all without relying on deprecated Access Web Apps (AWAs) which it can be auto convert to Cloud/Web/Mobile-enabled full-featured Access Database which, unlike an AWA or PowerApps, even support powerful VBA scripting and use for interactivity and automation.
I've helped clients migrate Excel workbooks migrate to Access databases when facing massive workbooks with (dozens or even a hundred sheets) many tedious, error-prone, manual copy-paste-edit processes involving merging many copies of it and a headache with having to repeat edits to complex formulas spread out across dozens of rows across dozens of tabs across dozens of workbook copies.