Although I work from home and tend to be always connected to the Internet, I still find that I really like to use products that allow me to work off-line. Not only is the performance often better, but it’s more reliable and I still spend a couple of hours a day disconnected. lack of off-line support has been one of the biggest issues with SharePoint 2003 and although I have used Groove as an off-line client I have never been that satisfied with it. Enter Office 2007, which includes off-line support for SharePoint 2007 primarily via Outlook 2007, but also for specific purposes via Groove 2007, Excel 2007 and Access 2007. Take a look at the demos and you will come away pretty impressed, however that’s the purpose of demos! Take a look at the Offline SharePoint blog and you will get a very different impression.
There are many small areas where the off-line experience is just not what you would expect, sometimes only a read-only copy is created, sometimes not all list types are supported, links don’t work – the list of limitations goes on. Admittedly Colligo – the authors of the blog – make their own tool for offline use of SharePoint but they make no secret of that fact. Anyway if you think all your off-line issues are met then think again, check out the Colligo blog and the Colligo alternative (Reader and Contributor)and if you want the best Off-line experience it’s probably still Lotus Notes.
It’s interesting though that neither Microsoft nor Colligo make it easy to get a comprehensive and detailed view of what works off-line and what doesn’t and in which products. some sort of mega table is required, if anyone knows where to find that information please post a comment.