Perhaps one of the most significant improvements to Access 2007 when it comes to ramping up to using Access are templates. Unlike previous version of Access (like Access 2003), where upon starting you would be greated by a blank window, in Access 2007 you will be greeted by an assortment of templates to get you going:
This startup screen is what we call "Getting Started". Through this functionality we will show you the templates available on the machine and through Office Online (Office's web site). This allow us to update existing content and allow new templates we make available overtime available to our customers.
We believe that these templates will be very useful and will provide excellent examples of how to build a database. We tried to come up with really useful databases that will get you going right away, such as the Issues template. It is a complete tracking application for "issues", items that by design can be customized/changed very easily to almost anything that can be tracked.
This is in stark contrast with the traditional idea of shipping a sample database (Northwind) with Access. Sample databases are very nice to use as standard data sets where you can try some changes and test some ideas, but very unhelpful in getting real life apps going.
Even further, templates are very useful to customers, so much so that we have had over 2 million downloads of templates in the last 12 months, and the backported version of the Issues template from Access 2007 is a big success.
Now that you can see why we're investing all this time and effort, I'll spend some time posting about the technical details about these templates. They are very different beasts from anything we did so far and worth understanding. That's because Access being Access, we never keep the toys for ourselves - we like to share them with our customers.