What is Power BI? Microsoft just changed the answer to the question

In reading the Power BI blog, it appears Microsoft has just changed what Power BI is. Since Power BI’s introduction last year, Power BI was a series of add-ins to Excel, which I liked to call the four powers, Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View and Power Map, and a web component. For people who weren’t interested in the web component, the most of the features listed in Power BI are available to anyone who has Office 2013 or Office 365. That now appears to have changed. Microsoft now says that Power BI is a Cloud Based service, and doesn’t mention Excel at all.

New Power BI

As I documented here, Microsoft released Power BI Designer as a web application and a stand alone application. It has been freely available since December 18, 2014 to anyone living in the US. This was the first step away from Excel as you no longer needed Excel to create dashboards. In the January 27 announcement, Microsoft has completely broken away from Excel. Now Power BI is new, and the new Power BI is the Designer of December. The old restrictions still apply. Sorry, if you are not in the US, you can’t use Power BI Designer aka the new Power BI. You can get an iPad version of the app in the Apple store and the Surface version in the Microsoft store, but phone support is not yet available for either iPhone or Android, but they are slated for release later this year.

New Product, New Price

It appears the mall is not the only place having sales in January. Microsoft just announced a major price reduction in Power BI too. Here’s the previous pricing model, which I saved from Microsoft’s website, just in case the Power BI webpage changed, which it did.


Here’s the new pricing model ,which doesn’t fit very well on my webpage.  To save you having to click on it, I will cut to the chase. Power BI is now $9.99.   Now that they product is targeted to the masses, the price isn’t an even number, just like everything Not Sold In Stores. It stands to reason that dropping the price will help in the  wider adoption of Power BI. The previous pricing made Power BI much more expensive than Office 365, which was probably a tough sell to many IT managers.

What’s Next with Power BI ?

To be honest, I have no idea what Microsoft is planning next. This announcement marks a big break with the past, which I guess we could call Power BI 1.0. The new direction to a standalone and web product makes Microsoft look more like its competitors, which I am sure was the idea. Personally I thought the break with Excel was quite surprising as I thought the plan was to leverage the knowledge of the current user base, so I didn’t expect it. I wonder if they are going to rebrand the four powers in Excel?  Based on today’s announcement I wouldn’t be surprised, and I will be watching Microsoft closely to see what happens next.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur


3 comments on “What is Power BI? Microsoft just changed the answer to the question

  1. Cos

    Ginger, great article!! thanks for the detailed info. Any thoughts on how the latest PowerView update stacks up against Tableau? — thx a bunch, Cos

    1. Ginger Grant

      This is a great question. If you look at Tableau’s product offering, what Microsoft is offering with the new Power BI is very similar. Tableau also offers a free public version and a cloud version which is available on a per subscription basis. As Tableau has been around a lot longer, it offers a lot more features than the new Power BI, but I think that Microsoft is trying to position themselves head to head with Tableau with this offering.


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