Microsoft Access is a relational database management program. Data stored on its tables may be displayed on so called "Forms". The forms contain fields (for example the name of a City is displayed in a field the developer might name "City" on a certain form). It is possible to set each field of a form to run programming automatically when certain things happen. Each field has a set of "properties" that can be set by the programmer. For example, using the "On Enter" or the "On Got Focus" property of the field "tells" the program to perform an action when the cursor enters that field ("On Enter" runs an action specified by the programmer instantaneously when the cursor enters the field, "On Got Focus" runs the action a little later than "On Enter" (It waits till after the cursor enters the field and the focus has "settled" on that field).

Many things can be automated in a Microsoft Access program by using "Macro Actions". Each macro action generates code that performs certain procedures. For example, one of the "Actions" Microsoft provides is called "Send Keys". A "send keys" {A} action "acts" as if someone had typed the letter "A" on the keyboard. So if you set that action to the "On Enter" property of the City Field in a Microsoft Access form, each time the cursor enters the field, an "A" appears automatically. As I understand it, it is possib;e to make Microsoft Access do just about anything automatically with macros, and those of us who are not versed in VB can rely on Access to perform just about any database task we need.

I have found that I can select all of the text in a form field (making it possible, for example, to delete all of the text in the field at once simply by pressing the delete key on my keyboard), by pressing the SHIFT key and the DOWN (Arrow) key simultaneously. OR, I can make Access 97 perform this function automatically by ordering a macro action "+ {Down}" when the cursor enters (or focuses on) the field. The "+" tells the program to act as if I am depressing the shift key and the {Down} tells the program to act as if I'm depressing the down arrow at the same time.

Another "send keys" action I have used in numerous places is the {F4}, which acts as if I have depressed the [F4] key on my keyboard. This action is particularly useful when entering a so called "Combo Box" (also known as a "drop down" list). When you enter a combo box, if you press your keyboard’s [F4] key, the list opens. By using the "Send Keys" Action, I have written features into my programs that automatically show the user the drop down list when the cursor is placed in the field.

Now here is the problem. This stuff works fine when running the Windows '98 Operating system. I just bought a new computer that has XP Pro. The automated features described above do not work right when XP Pro supports the Access 97 program. They still work, but an undesired result occurs. That is, the characters change cases, particularly if the CAPS LOCK is turned on. When entering a field that orders a send keys action “On Enter” or “On Got Focus”, the caps lock is turned off. To make matters worse, when the caps lock turns off, the word "CAPS" no longer appears on the task bar, but the light on the keyboard that indicates the caps lock is locked stays on! So the situation becomes one where you think the caps lock is on if you are relying on the caps lock light on the keyboard. The caps lock is off if you are relying on the task bar's information, and the letters you type have been changed from upper case to lower case, but if you are relying on the caps lock light on the keyboard, you think you are still typing upper case text. Changing to another field does not fix the problem. The lower case letters remain active and the caps lock light stays lit. If you press the caps lock button on your keyboard, the caps light turns off, the text returns to upper case text, and the task bar goes back to saying "CAPS". So, it would seem to me that thanks to the way XP Pro interprets the "send keys" actions Microsoft provided with Access 97, is not correct, and confuses the computer, even the keyboard caps lock light! Do they have a bug here? I think so.

What do you think? Please give it a try if you have the programs involved, and see what happens to you. I would appreciate it if anyone else who can confirm this problem notifies Microsoft. I would also very much appreciate your opinions and suggestions of how I can overcome this problem. As I have said above, I feel I was led to believe that I could make Microsoft Access 97 do just about anything by using the macro actions provided with the program. I have succeeded in doing exactly that, running it under Windows 98. But Windows XP doesn’t seem to support Access 97 as well as Windows 98 does. I would hope Microsoft would want to fix this problem. Please comment.