Is Excel the reason Access is so bad? For most people, Excel is their "database" tool of choice, and for good reason. It has flexible tabular data CRUD operations, search, sort, group and pivot query functions, plus it makes charts. It can load data from external sources, calculate results, colour-code them and export them in other useful formats. It can even be programmed in VBA or, with the most recent versions, CLR managed code. Given all these features, what advantages does Access confer? It doesn't even add multi-user capabilities cleanly, and getting up and running with an Access database is much harder than opening Excel. Given such a consumer focus on Excel, is it any wonder Microsoft would spend a lot more time and effort on it than on Access?
Mokalus of Borg
PS - I can imagine more Access features being added to Excel over time.
PPS - But my imagination doesn't drive Microsoft.