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whats the difference between SQL, Oracle, etc and MS Access?

I'm assuming you meant "SQL Server" by SQL, as SQL is just a query language. SQL Server and Oracle are 2 of the most high end databases (the other being DB2). But they're just that -- a powerful back end. The data is usually accessed through a web application or a standard windows application programmed specifically to use it.

MS Access is a simple database, with a easy to use front end, meant to be usable by average, everyday folks.

are there MS Access alternatives?

Filemaker Pro is their main competitor.

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