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September 17, 2023

Microsoft is working on an offline mode for OneDrive

Users of Microsoft’s cloud storage and syncing service OneDrive will soon be able to use some of the service’s features in a browser while offline.

Most OneDrive users link the service to the cloud. Although the OneDrive client supports marking some files and folders for offline availability – so they can be accessed even if there is no Internet connection or if Microsoft decides to block access to the account – it is clear that most users’ files are only available online.

The new offline mode

OneDrive’s new offline mode changes that to some extent. Microsoft plans to launch it as a preview in November 2023 and roll it out to all OneDrive users a month later.

Offline Mode is a new feature that Microsoft says works only in the browser. In fact, it adds the ability to “view, sort, rename, move, copy and delete files” even when there is no Internet connection.

In addition, OneDrive users can access and use any file available offline on the local system. Any changes made to these files, such as editing text in a Word document, are automatically synchronized once an Internet connection is established.

Microsoft does not reveal specifics, such as whether the feature is limited to certain browsers.

The feature seems similar to Google Drive’s offline capabilities. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will also restrict access to Chrome and Edge. Google users must additionally install a browser extension when using Drive on the Web. This is the only option to use Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides offline.

The ability to work on files available locally is not new. OneDrive users can, in theory, edit any file available locally at any time, regardless of Internet connection status.

Offline mode adds this capability to the Web browser. This can be useful for users who do most editing and management in the browser. However, it seems that OneDrive users who edit and manage locally on their devices will not really benefit from this.

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