Microsoft Office users, eagerly upgrading to the latest and greatest version of the company's productivity suite, have found that the venerable Offline Files function has gone, er, offline.

Judging by the increasing rumbling in the company's forums, the problem kicked off with version 1904 of the productivity suite and afflicts Office 365, 2016 and 2019. It manifests itself when a user has My Documents and/or the Desktop folders remapped to a server, but with Offline Files configured.

In that instance, when the PC is connected to the network, it should hit the server, but when out and about it would run from the locally cached copy. It's not an unusual scenario for businesses with mobile workers, even if Microsoft would much rather they used something a bit more modern like, say, OneDrive for Business or Windows Work Folders On-Demand.

Having been using the tech for years, users are now reporting errors along the lines of...

Sorry, we couldn't open '\\servername\fileshare\filename' because the server isn't responding.
... on attempting to open Offline Files when disconnected.

The sort of thing that could happen, for example, to a worker trying to open that all-important spreadsheet in Excel while on the move.

The issue appears to be solely related to using an Office application to open files. You can, for example, open an offline .csv file in notepad.exe OK, but try it in Microsoft's lack-of-productivity app and an error is vomited onto the screen.

And you wonder how people lose their privacy? Perhaps by companies forcing people to store everything that should NOT be online to online where they have "no expectation of privacy"?