Microsoft Power BI Pro vs Premium: In-Depth Comparison

Taylor Karl
Microsoft Power BI Pro vs Premium: In-Depth Comparison 10828 0

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If your organization is looking at business intelligence platforms to leverage existing IT systems while enhancing data reporting and analytics, learn more about Microsoft Power BI Pro and Premium products to inform your decision process.

Microsoft Power BI: What Is It Used For

Microsoft Power BI is a scalable, self-service platform for data visualization and enterprise business intelligence (BI) insights. As a Microsoft application, Power BI has standard Microsoft menus and easily integrates with standard Microsoft Excel, among other data sources. In addition, a user can quickly get up to speed with Power BI due to the Microsoft suite integration.

Using Power BI consistently and with quality data provides your organization with the advantage of:

  • more accurate reporting,
  • real-time data dashboard tools, and
  • more holistic reporting incorporating multiple data sources.

Every Power BI user requires training to use Power BI features for consistent data analytics. In addition, an organization's version of Power BI impacts the per user cost, data report capacity, and workspace experience.

Microsoft Power BI Versions: Free, Pro, Premium

There are currently three versions (or levels) of Power BI:

  • Microsoft Power BI Desktop (free)
  • Microsoft Power BI Pro
  • Microsoft Power BI Premium
    • per user
    • per capacity

Each version of Power BI serves the core function of data visualization of complex data coupled with business intelligence insights. However, there are differences in cost, license, capacity, and features, so it is crucial to select the Power BI that meets the business needs. While Power BI desktop, with a free license for each user, may be the fastest option, it may not meet your full organization’s need.

Power BI Desktop (free)

Power BI Desktop is a free download from Microsoft for creating Power BI reports, transformations, visuals, and DAX measures and calculations straight from the desktop for individuals.


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Power BI Service: Pro and Premium

Power BI Pro and Premium have tiered sharing capabilities so that a user can create reports in PBI Desktop, publish them in their "My Workspace," and create dashboards. In addition, they are ideal choices for use by teams and in organizational settings.

Power BI Pro: Cost, Capacity, License, and Features

Power BI Pro is the next level up from Power BI desktop (free). As such, unlike the free version, Power BI Pro includes 10 GB per user data storage and allows for data report sharing among users. Features

include:

  • building dashboards,
  • creating reports,
  • viewing, sharing, and consumption of your created reports with no limits, and
  • viewing, sharing, and consuming reports shared by others with no limits.

Of particular note are the Power BI Pro features:

  • on-premise data gateways and
  • improved data refreshes for on-premise data.

Each user within the organization will need their own Power BI Pro license to maximize the sharing and collaboration features. Additionally, users must integrate their workspace and coordinate their efforts to maintain accurate and reliable reporting across shared data sets.

Microsoft quotes a cost of $9.99 per user, per month, in the U.S. as of February 2023. For Power BI Pro, the pricing is the same for every user, regardless of the number of licenses purchased by the organization.

Power BI Premium: Cost, Capacity, License, and Features

In response to customer requests, Microsoft now provides two versions of the Power BI Premium to fit the capacity needs of an organization. For both the per user and the capacity versions of Power BI Premium, the features are the same as Power BI Pro:

  • building dashboards,
  • creating reports,
  • viewing, sharing, and consumption of your created reports with no limits, and
  • viewing, sharing, and consuming reports shared by others with no limits.

In comparison with Power BI Pro, it is important to note that Power BI Premium features also include:

  • larger storage, up to 100 TB of data storage to share in Power BI Premium and
  • bigger datasets work with datasets up to 50 GB in size.

The "per user" level of Power BI Premium blends the higher computing power of the level with the cost savings of using the organization's existing dedicated IT infrastructure and a per user license fee. It combines features of sharing reports while right sizing the cost for the scope of data visualization needed.

The Power BI Premium capacity option may be the best fit for large organizations. It has a monthly fee that encompasses a Microsoft-managed dedicated unit of capacity for all users (aka Premium Workspace) for hosting datasets up to 50 G.B. with cloud storage of 100TB. Unlike other Power BI levels, the Power BI Premium capacity option requires estimating the capacity to best meet the demands of a large organization's enterprise deployments, workloads, and reporting.

Microsoft quotes a cost of $4,995 per dedicated cloud compute and storage in the U.S. as of February 2023. For Power BI Premium capacity, the cost includes a license for every user within the organization with no limits.

Power BI Pro vs Premium

Microsoft provides a detailed comparison of the Power BI levels (Free, Pro, Premium) to help IT professionals and leaders right-size their organization's IT infrastructure and dataset requirements. Overall, the key differentiator between Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium is Performance.

Comparison Chart for Power BI Pro and Premium Versions

Note: costs listed are US pricing as of February 2023.

Power BI Premium vs Pro: Which Version to Use?

You can use Power BI for dashboard and report building, unlimited viewing, sharing, and use of reports (both created and shared). An organization planning to use Power BI for data visualization and data analytics needs to consider which level of the tool is necessary. Work with the company's IT department and the data analytics team to answer these questions to inform the selection.

  • What data sources are available?
  • Do data analysts need access to Power BI on both their mobile and desktop devices?
  • Is the Power BI service needed?
  • What type of training do the data analytics team and anticipated users require?
  • How is a Power BI report server configured (and kept up) initially?
  • How many people are going to create items using Power BI?
  • Who requires access to reports generated with this technology?
  • How many users will only be viewing dashboards as opposed to creating them in Power BI.

In a smaller setting, Power BI free will meet all needs. With a large company, more users will only view reports, not create them. That would indicate that Power BI Pro or Premium per user would be sufficient. In settings with high amounts of report creation and modeling, the Power BI Premium capacity solution would fit in addition to large data sets.

Summary

Assess your reporting needs, budget, and data scope to help guide your decision-making for which Power BI (free, Pro, or premium) meets your performance requirements. Power BI Pro can meet the needs of smaller companies with contained data needs and a per user license model. However, building from Power BI Pro, larger organizations will require Power BI Premium, with either the per user model or capacity model, for the expanded features and computing power.

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