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Licensing: Power BI Desktop vs Power BI Pro vs Power BI Premium

Microsoft Power BI is part of the Microsoft Power Platform which is a set of business analytics tools which can be used to help you to analyse data and share valuable insights. When it comes to Power BI licensing, you have a number of options available with each having its own features. So which one do I choose? 

In our latest blog article, we will take you through the major variances between the Power BI licenses, showcase the functionality in each one, provide you with an idea on costings and explain the types of business that might be suited to each license. 

So before we get started, let’s discuss the different licensing options available for Power BI 

From the title of this article, you would have probably guessed that there are three different licensing options for Power BI: Desktop (Free), Pro and Premium. Which type of license you will need depends on a number of factors: 

  • Where the data is stored 
  • How they will interact with that data 
  • Does the data require premium functionality 

1) Power BI Desktop 

The first type of Power BI license on the list is Power BI Desktop which is a free Microsoft download and is the starting point when it comes to Power BI licensing. 

It is important to note that any users that have this type of license are only able to use Power BI to connect to data as well as the ability to create reports and dashboards. There is however no option to allow others to see this content. 

Even though this license is free, it does come with a number of fantastic features: 

  • Ability to connect important data from over 70 sources. 
  • Ability to see the same visualisations and filters as the paid version. 
  • Ability to export your reports to CSVs, Excel, PowerPoint and pdf. 
  • Ability to publish to the web. 
  • Ability to automatically discover and create data relationships between tables and formats. 
  • Ability to save, upload and publish reports to the Web. 
  • Ability to store up to 10GB per user. 

As can be expected, there are a number of drawbacks of using the free version which try to encourage your business to upgrade to the paid licensing: 

  • No app workspaces, API embedding, email subscriptions or sharing capabilities. 
  • No support to analyse in Excel within Power BI Desktop. 

You will find that the main functionality contained within Power BI Desktop comes as standard in Power BI Pro and Premium as well as – data cleansing, connectors to data sources, customised reporting & visualisations. 

Power BI Desktop is perfect for those analysing data by themselves and don’t require it be shared with anyone else. 

NB: You don’t require a Microsoft 365 subscription to use this type of licensing, simply download it from Microsoft for FREE. 

2) Power BI Pro 

You will find that Power BI Pro gives you the freedom to use Power BI for creating dashboards and reports as well as unlimited viewing, sharing and use of your reports and those shared by others. 

In addition to the basic features of the Power BI Desktop license, you will also get access to the following: 

  • Ability to connect to over 100 data sources 
  • Ability to embed Power BI visuals in applications such as PowerApps or Teams. 
  • Mobile application as well as a 1 GB model size limit. 
  • 10 GB per user storage & 8 daily data refreshes. 
  • Embedded APIs and controls. 
  • AI visuals as well as data security and encryption 
  • Metrics with created content and publishing. 
  • Ability to share dashboards and reports with other users 

Like with all Microsoft licensing pricing structures, Power BI Pro is licensed per user per month, so if you are a business that needs the full features for 5 people you will need 5 licenses. In terms of costing, Power BI Pro is currently priced at £7.50 per user per month, although this is subject to change. 

3) Power BI Premium 

As you have probably already guessed, the Power BI premium license comes at a price and is suitable for those larger organisations. With the additional enterprise-level demands, Premium is equipped with even more features and functionality than the other two licenses which includes some of the following: 

  • 100 GB model size limit as well as 100 TB of storage. 
  • Ability to access one API surface. 
  • Ability to access data flows and analyse data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage. 
  • XMLA endpoint read/read connectivity. 
  • Ability to embed Power BI visuals into apps such as PowerApps, SharePoint and Teams. 

In light of the above, Microsoft has recently changed the way it prices Power BI premium users. In the past this type of license was only available per capacity per month, however now this has been changed to per user per month which is currently pricing at £15.10 per user per month or if you wanted to get this license for the whole organisation it is priced at £3766.70. 

The organisation level type of licensing for Power BI Premium does have a few extras in terms of functionality: 

  • Ability to complete reporting on-premise 
  • 400 GB model size limit 
  • Multi-location deployment management 
  • Azure Autoscale add-on 

Next Steps? 

If you are a business looking to experience the full power of the Microsoft Power Platform through the use of Microsoft Power BI to transform the way that you report on data then please contact one of our Power Platform experts today to discuss your specific requirements. 

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