Power BI Free, Pro or Premium. What is the difference?

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What is Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics service by Microsoft that was first released in 2014. Since then, it has a growing popularity and an amazing community. The reason behind its growing popularity is that Microsoft Power BI provides interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with a simple interface that a user can use by simply dragging and dropping.

But the main problem that users as well as companies face when they decide to use Microsoft Power BI is to decide which license to get, considering their needs. In this article you will be able to read and learn about all different kinds of Microsoft Power BI licenses including their differences and similarities.

Power BI Desktop (Free)

This version of Microsoft Power BI is included in all Office 365 Plans and you can sign up for Power BI Free any time you like. This is a free desktop application that can be installed right on your computer. Microsoft Power BI Desktop also works cohesively with the Power BI service by providing advanced data exploration, shaping, modeling, visualization and report creation. You can also save your reports as a “.pbix” file to your computer and publish them to your private workspace.

The only downside of Microsoft Power BI Desktop is that unfortunately you are not allowed to share any reports or dashboards with another person and the data you upload to Power BI Cloud is limited to 1 GB.

If we were to present a detailed list of the things Power BI Desktop CAN or CAN’T do it would follow as,

Things It Can Do

  • You can connect and import data from over 70 cloud-based and on-premises sources.
  • The same rich visualisations and filters from Power BI Pro.
  • Auto-detect that finds and creates data relationships between tables and formats.
  • Export your reports to CSV, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and PDF.
  • Python support.
  • Save, upload and publish your reports to the Web and the full Power BI service.
  • Storage limit of 10 GB per user.

Things It Can’t Do

  • Can’t share created reports with non-Power BI Pro users.
  • No App Workspaces.
  • No API embedding.
  • No email subscriptions.
  • No peer-to-peer-sharing.
  • No support to analyse in Excel within Power BI Desktop.

Power BI Pro

Even though Power BI Pro is not very different from Power BI Desktop, it is the most common license that is chosen by freelancers, individuals and small to medium companies due to its price of €8,40($9.99) per user/month.

In contrast to Power BI Desktop, with Power BI Pro license you are allowed to upload 10 GB of data to Power BI Cloud. Another difference that causes most of the people to choose this license is that users can share their reports and dashboards to other individuals privately as long as the recipient is also a holder of a Power BI Pro license.

Some other features you gain with the Microsoft Power BI Pro license are as follows,

  • Ability to embed Power BI visuals into apps (PowerApps, SharePoint, Teams, etc).
  • Native integration with other Microsoft solutions (Azure Data Services).
  • Share datasets, dashboards and reports with other Power BI Pro users.
  • Can create App Workspaces and peer-to-peer sharing.

Power BI Premium

Power BI Premium is the most expensive tier of Microsoft Power BI’s currently available subscription types. However, it should not be seen as a type of user license but as an upgrade to your entire company’s capabilities. Organizations with Power BI Premium have a server running their Power BI environment.

With Power BI Premium, you are licensing capacity for your datasets, dashboards and reports, not just licensing all users of that content. In other words, you’re not buying individual licenses, you’re buying them in bulk to allow a large number of your users to use Power BI to view reports. All of your content is stored in Premium and can then be viewed by as many users in your organisation as you want, without additional per-user costs.

Some features that are addition to other license types are as follows,

  • Increased data capacity limits and maximum performance.
  • Access to one API surface.
  • Larger storage sizes for extended deployments.
  • Geo distribution, higher refresh rates, isolation, pin to memory, read-only replicas.
  • Power BI Report Server.

If you would like to see all the licenses in a more detailed way, we can help you.

Small Note

Another important thing though, at the moment this article is being written, Microsoft has been offered a Power BI Premium License per user which is much cheaper than the price when you would like to purchase it as a company. However, it is still in “preview”. We will also be talking about it when it is “officially” out.

Are you still not sure which license is the best for you? We are here to help.

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