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  • Writer's pictureKwixand Team

Microsoft Power BI Pro vs. Free vs. Premium

Here's a comparison of the Free, Pro, & Premium versions of Microsoft Power BI so you can pick the right one for your business.

A pattern of repeating pages with different data dashboards

In the highly competitive world of business, time is money. You need to think on your feet, come up with ideas and solutions by the minute, and analyze and visualize data to optimize your business. Business intelligence is the practice of combining data visualizing, data analytics, data tools, and infrastructure with business analytics to make efficient business decisions. With the ever-growing ocean of data, it is essential to have the right business intelligence solution. This is where Microsoft Power BI comes in.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a suite of business intelligence services that enables you to perform data analysis, modeling, and reporting. Depending on the version of the software you avail, it helps you create interactive dashboards and reports to visually explore and analyze data. This enables easier understanding and identification of trends and patterns. The visuals are great for presentations and sharing with colleagues. There are numerous benefits of Power BI for your small or mid-sized business.

There are three versions of Power BI available:

  • Power BI Desktop (free)

  • Power BI Pro

  • Power BI Premium

To help you choose the best version for your needs, we are giving a breakdown of all three versions, one by one, in the following sections. You can pick the one that ticks all your boxes.

Power BI Desktop (Free)

This is the free version of Power BI. It’s a self-service business analytics application available in all Office 365 plans. It offers all the basic business intelligence features and can be used by anyone, regardless of the level of skills. You can simply install this version on your local computer and create your own reports, connect with up to 70+ data sources, conduct your own analysis, and much more.

No subscription is required to use this version. You can download it for free directly from Microsoft. It is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2. If you install it from the Microsoft Store, you’ll get automatic updates whenever new upgrades or patches are released.

Power BI Desktop Features

  • Data can be imported from more than 70 on-premises and cloud-based sources.

  • It includes all visualizations and filters available in Power BI Pro

  • The auto-detect feature looks for and creates data relationships.

  • Reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, CSV, and PDF.

  • Python support included.

  • You can publish your reports to the web.

  • Comes with 10GB cloud storage limit per user.

The free version is one of the best business analytic tools for small business owners or individual professionals. However, if you require sharing your created reports with colleagues and other users, you need the Pro version. The free version also doesn’t have app workspaces, API embedding, email subscriptions, or peer-to-peer sharing. Also, you can’t analyze in Excel using Power BI Desktop.

Power BI Desktop Pricing

Microsoft's Power BI desktop version is free of charge. You can easily download free Power BI app and tools here to get started.

Power BI Desktop (Free) is ideal for:

  • Start-ups and smaller businesses

  • Businesses with less data to analyse

  • Businesses without a budget for intelligence tools

Power BI Pro

This is the complete version of Power BI. It equips you with the full ability to create reports and dashboards. It also includes unlimited sharing, viewing, and consumption of created reports. The biggest advantage of the Pro version over the free version is the ability to share reports, dashboards, and data. You can share your reports with other users also having a Power BI Pro license. It allows you to create an app-based workspace, but the storage limit per user remains 10GB. It is available in the Office 365 Enterprise E5.

Power BI Pro Features

  • It allows embedding Power BI visuals into apps like PowerApps, SharePoint, Teams, etc.

  • It also allows native integration with Microsoft solutions like Azure Data Services.

  • You can share reports, dashboards, and datasets with fellow Power BI Pro users.

  • Allows creation of app workspaces and peer-to-peer sharing.

  • On-premise gateways

  • More data refreshes so that you always have the latest version of data.

Power BI Pro involves individual licensing. So, if a company has 30 users, they’ll require 30 licenses to utilize the full version for creating reports and dashboards. It is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses.

Power BI Pro Pricing

The Power BI Pro plan is available at $9.99 USD per month for individual users. You can get the 60-day free trial before purchasing to gauge the benefits for yourself. It allows you to collaborate and govern data, build dashboards with a 360 real-time view, and publish reports anywhere.

Power BI Pro is ideal for:

  • Small to medium-sized businesses

  • Corporations with big data

  • Multi-site businesses

Power BI Premium

This version is drastically different from the other two, both in terms of price and features. It may be the most expensive of the three versions, but it includes all Desktop and Pro versions' features and functionalities. It's not suited for individual licensing; it's like a bulk license for all users of the organization to view reports. The Power BI Premium license includes the entire capacity of an organization. It offers performance on a large scale for big organizations.

The Premium version can host up to 50GB of datasets and offers 100TB cloud storage. It also enables collaboration among hundreds of users in real-time. Organizations with a Premium license have separate resources and super-powered servers. They don't have to share processing environments, thus ensuring fast operations.

It is an enterprise-level Office 365 subscription available in two Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) families: EM SKUs (EM1-EM3) and P SKUs (P1-P3).

Power BI Premium Features

  • Increased performance and data capacity

  • One API surface access

  • It allows embedding Power BI visuals into apps like PowerApps, SharePoint, Teams, etc.

  • Allows extended deployments due to larger storage.

  • Offers more data refreshes, geo-distribution, pin-to-memory, isolation, read-only replicas.

  • Power BI Report Server: An on-premises server that allows you to build your BI initiatives on local hardware and publish the Power BI reports.

Power BI Premium Pricing

The Power BI Premium pricing can range anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per month, depending on the scale. It is ideal for organizations having 500 or more users. It does not include individual licensing for each user in the organization. You can get a better idea of how much it would cost your company with this Premium calculator.

Power BI Premium is ideal for:

  • Large enterprises with massive workloads

Power BI Free vs. Pro vs. Premium: Which One To Pick?

Microsoft Power BI is the leading business analytic tool in the market with numerous benefits. The choice of the Power BI version depends on your business needs, internal expertise, and data analysis requirements. If you require a self-service business analytics tool, you can choose between the Desktop and Pro versions. While Power BI Free has all the basic features and is quite functional, it does have a number of limits on data refreshes, storage, and sharing capabilities. Power Bi Pro allows sharing reports with other users and is a cost-effective upgrade for your small or medium business.

Your organization size and consumption needs determine the choice between Pro and Premium versions. Power BI pro is the go-to choice for small to mid-sized businesses while Premium is favored by larger corporations. Additionally, in larger organizations, another factor to consider is the requirement of full capabilities of Power BI and the access to simply, occasionally view reports and dashboards. If more users need to view reports than create them, the Premium version is ideal, coupled with a few Pro licenses for the self-service unit.

You can learn more about what makes Microsoft Power BI an industry leader in this 2020 report by Gartner, "Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms".

Get Started with a Microsoft Power BI Partner

If you need help getting started with Power BI, the Kwixand team can help. Kwixand Solutions is a certified Microsoft Power BI Partner based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Our specialists can help you select, implement, and help you set up and customize your Power BI solution. To learn more, book a free consultation today.


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