Test Center review: Thumbs-up to FileMaker upgrade
FileMaker Pro 10 is significantly improved with a smoother GUI and winning new features, but faces stiff competition on Windows
FileMaker has little competition on the Mac, and essentially no competitors that work on both Mac OS X and Windows. It does, however, have two competitors on Windows: Microsoft Access and Alpha Five.
Nearly everybody already has Microsoft Access, usually as part of Microsoft Office. It's harder to develop for Access than for FileMaker, and it currently has no Web capabilities unless a programmer ties it to a Web site, typically with ASP.Net. On the other hand, Access looks like the rest of Office, and it has powerful programming capabilities and a wizard that lets you upsize to SQL Server very easily. (It's quite complicated to upsize from FileMaker to a SQL database.) If your shop already uses Access and is happy with the results, then FileMaker would become appealing only if you needed to support Macs or take your database to the Web without programming.
Alpha Five is a desktop database with strong RAD (Rapid Application Development) tools, Web and AJAX support, enterprise-level SQL support, and lower pricing than FileMaker. The Alpha Five programming capabilities are heartier than those in Access and much more powerful than those in FileMaker, yet many Alpha Five applications can be built using its menus and dialogs without ever writing a line of code.
If your shop needs a desktop database just for Macs or for both Mac OS X and Windows, then look no further than FileMaker Pro 10. If you already use FileMaker 9, definitely upgrade to FileMaker 10.
Anyone in your shop who wants to do serious FileMaker development will prefer FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced to FileMaker Pro 10. Ordinary database users need only FileMaker Pro 10.
If you're sharing FileMaker databases widely, consider one of the Server SKUs. However, note the prices -- they aren't cheap.
Finally, if your shop uses Windows and not Macs, then compare FileMaker with Access and Alpha Five. Either of these Windows-only options may better meet your current and projected needs, and they do so at lower cost.