Microsoft Power BI is a market leading BI and data visualization platform from Microsoft. It is transforming the way we analyse and access data because of its easy, drag and drop interface and connectivity. However, when looking to get started with Power BI there are a number of different license options to consider. In this article we explain each of the different licenses available for Power BI and where they might be useful.

Power BI Licensing

There are 3 main ways users can access Power BI from a license perspective.

Power BI Free

There are two sets of capability you get from Power BI free. This license option is designed for groups of people

  1. Users within your organisation that need limited access to dashboards and reports. This could be for things like company performance. These users do not require to create reports themselves and need only limited access and where the organisation has a premium license.
  2. Users getting started with Power BI. Power BI Desktop is a great place to learn the basics.

You can use Power BI Desktop which is a great tool for building dashboards and reports and learning how to use Power BI. Without a paid for license Power BI Desktop users are limited to using the reports themselves or publishing them to the web where they are public, which is obviously not intended for company information.

You can also access dashboards and reports that have been shared with you but only if the person sharing the reports has a premium license.

Power BI Pro

Power BI Pro is the main license that most users in organisations will take advantage of. It is £7.50 per user per month, this is the commercial price that most organisations will pay, although there are some discounts available via not profit and education licenses. It allows for dashboards sharing and results and comes with high capacity limits that will be perfect for most businesses. It does come included as part of Office 365 E5 license package.

The main limitation here is that any output created by a Power BI Pro license is only sharable with other users who also have a Power BI Pro license.

Power BI Premium

Power BI Premium or Power BI enterprise as it should be known, is for extremely large and mature data first organisations. The license is per organisation and is £3,766.70 per month.

Power BI Premium offers a number of features not found in Power BI Pro including:

  • Power BI on-premise
  • The ability to share Power BI pro dashboards to people without licenses
  • Huge step up in compute, storage and data refresh capability including Azure data lake integration

In conclusion if you are looking to visualise data for yourself or publicly the free version is sufficient. For the majority of business users Power BI Pro is likely the most suitable option and for some enterprise organisations Power BI Premium is worth considering but only once you are approaching 500 Pro licenses or have an advanced need for on-premise or higher compute levels.