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Microsoft Access Online – is Microsoft Access part of Microsoft 365 or Office 365?

I want to use Microsoft Access online, is Microsoft 365 the best way of doing this?

Microsoft offers small and medium business versions of Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365), namely Microsoft 365 Apps for Business and Microsoft 365 Business Standard that requires a monthly subscription of (at the time of writing) £7.90 or £9.40 respectively.  This includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, Publisher, Outlook and Access.

Microsoft 365 isn’t just a version of Microsoft Office, it is in fact a combination of a different way of licencing Office plus some additional cloud-based services including the ability to you save your Office documents “in the cloud”; as well as running “Online” web browser based versions of some Office applications.

There are a number of different “Plans” for Microsoft 365.  The cheapest is the “Business Basic” plan, which gives you email, OneDrive, Teams, and a few other cloud services, but only “online” versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.   As plans increase in price, more features are added.

One of the most popular with small businesses is the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan which provides desktop installed versions of Office applications plus email.   With Business Standard you can install Office on up to 5 devices, which includes Mac, PCs, Tablets and phones.


What Plan do I need to have Microsoft Access Online with Microsoft 365

Access is now included in all the plans that allow for installed versions of Office applications, including: Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Business Premium, Apps for Business, Apps for Enterprise as well as Office 365 E3 and E5.   However, there is only a PC version of Access.  Unlike Word, Excel etc.   There is no version of Access that works on a Mac, tablet, or smartphone.   Also, you can’t use Microsoft Access online in the way that they do for Word and Excel.  So, for the question: Is Access part of Microsoft 365?  The answer is yes, but only from a licencing perspective.


Can I use Microsoft Access Online “In the Cloud”?

The general idea of using any application in the cloud stems from the business requirement to be able to share data over the Internet and do away with the need for local IT infrastructure.   Microsoft have experimented with using Microsoft 365 as a way of sharing Access databases including using SharePoint as well as Access WebApps which is the closest thing to Microsoft Access online.   However, both of these methods have been retired, probably because the idea of stretching an application like Access from its data source (tables) over the Internet is unlikely to perform well with current internet speeds.


How can I share an Access database online using the internet

People often ask: “Is Access part of Microsoft 365?” because of a need to share their database with colleagues, either on their site or in other locations, hoping that the cloud services available with Microsoft 365 and Office 365 will solve that problem; unfortunately, Microsoft 365 isn’t going to help here.

One method of sharing an online Microsoft Access database is to use a Hosted Remote Desktop service.   Remote Desktop servers are designed to allow multiple users to run the same application at once.   That application could be an Access database.   Where the remote desktop servers are “Hosted”, the hosting provider will put in additional services that enable users to securely connect to the remote desktop over the Internet.

Where a Microsoft Access Online database is split into Front-end and Back-end, both these parts sit on the remote desktop server.  No data has to travel up and down the Internet, only keyboard and mouse clicks, so performance can be equal to running Access on your own site or network.


Can I use a Microsoft 365 licence on a remote desktop server?

The answer is Yes, but…

…in order to use Microsoft 365 on a remote desktop server you need a feature called Shared Computer Activation (SCA).   A remote desktop server is in effect a shared computer.   SCA is only available in certain plans i.e. Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, and Office 365 E3 or E5.   In addition, a hosted remote desktop provider has to be certified to host Microsoft 365 Office apps.   More information on this can be found in our article SCA Shared Computer Activation how to activate Microsoft 365 on hosted remote desktop server .   However, remote desktop hosting providers will be able to rent different Access or Office licences using Service Provider Licence Agreements. Your Office Anywhere can also advise you on how you can use the Access Runtime licence to reduce your licence costs.


How do I know if a hosted remote desktop service will work for my application?

Most hosted remote desktop providers will allow you to “try before you buy” either with a demo account for your online Microsoft Access or providing a test server for your specific application.

Your Office Anywhere are specialists in hosting bespoke Microsoft Access Online databases on their remote desktop service.  If you need more information please call 01282 500 318 and one of our technical sales consultants will answer your questions about using this type of service.  Please visit the Contact page to take the next step.

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