The three main tiers of Microsoft Power BI service are Free, Pro, and Premium, each catering to different user needs and organizational demands. Here’s a detailed comparison of these versions:

Power BI Free

  • This version is aimed at individuals looking to explore Power BI capabilities without any cost.
  • Users can connect to hundreds of data sources, create reports, and publish to the Power BI service.
  • The Free version includes data exploration and visualization tools, but sharing capabilities are limited.
  • It does not allow users to share content with other Power BI users; you can only publish to the web, which is public and non-secure.
  • The data refresh rate is limited compared to the Pro and Premium versions.

Power BI Free is designed for individual users to create and explore their own reports and dashboards. It’s a good choice for users who want to try out the features of Power BI or for those who only need to analyze data for personal use.

Power BI Pro

  • The Pro version requires a subscription, currently priced at $10 per user per month (Pricing & Product Comparison | Microsoft Power BI).
  • It includes all the capabilities of the Free version, plus the ability to share reports and collaborate with other Power BI Pro users within your organization.
  • Pro users can publish content to app workspaces, share dashboards, and subscribe to reports.
  • It offers more frequent data refreshes, more storage, and higher streaming rates.
  • Pro is suitable for small to medium-sized businesses that need to collaborate and distribute BI content across teams.
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Power BI Pro is suitable for business users who need to share reports and collaborate on dashboards within their organization. It provides the ability to work with other Pro users, but does not offer the enhanced performance and capacity that comes with Premium.

Power BI Premium

  • Power BI Premium is designed for large enterprises and is priced based on capacity (the resources required) rather than per user.
  • It offers dedicated cloud resources, providing better performance and larger data volumes without affecting other users.
  • Premium allows for more frequent data refreshes, larger dataset sizes, and increased data storage.
  • It provides the ability to maintain BI assets on-premises with Power BI Report Server.
  • Users within the organization do not need a Pro license to view content; only the content creators require Pro licenses.
  • Premium Per User (PPU) is a more recent offering that provides Premium features on a per-user basis, starting at $20 per user per month, which can be more cost-effective for medium-sized businesses or teams within larger organizations that require advanced capabilities.

Power BI Premium offers a range of additional features designed for enterprise-scale use. It provides dedicated resources, which means that performance is not affected by other users, and allows for greater scalability and control. Premium also includes advanced AI capabilities, paginated reports, and priority support, among other features. It is a significant investment, so it’s typically used by larger organizations with extensive reporting needs or those who require a robust, scalable BI solution.

Power BI Premium can be purchased in two ways: as a capacity-based service where you’re paying for the entire capacity (ideal for large numbers of users or large datasets), or as Premium Per User (PPU), which provides Premium features on a per-user basis, suitable for medium-sized businesses or specific departments within larger organizations that need advanced BI capabilities without the need for a full capacity commitment.

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Power BI Free vs Pro

Here’s a detailed comparison of Power BI Free and Pro in tabular format:

FeaturePower BI FreePower BI Pro
Monthly Cost$0$10 per user/month ([Pricing & Product Comparison
Data Capacity1 GB per user10 GB per user
Data Refresh RateDaily8 times per day
Publish ReportsTo the Power BI service for personal use onlyTo the Power BI service to be shared with others
Report SharingNot availableWith other Power BI Pro users within your organization
CollaborationNot availableApp workspaces, create and publish content packs, share dashboards, collaborate with colleagues in real-time
Content AccessCan only consume content shared with them or content in the Power BI serviceFull access to collaboration features, allowing consumption and sharing of content
Peer-to-Peer SharingNot availableAvailable
Export DataExport to CSV, ExcelExport to CSV, Excel, PowerPoint
API AvailabilityLimited APIsFull range of Power BI APIs for integration with other applications
Embed API and ControlsNot availableAvailable
Email SubscriptionsNot availableAvailable
Analyzing in ExcelNot availableAvailable
Data GovernanceBasic data governanceAdvanced data governance with content packs and audit log
Data ConnectivityConnect to over 70 standard data connectorsConnect to over 70 standard data connectors, plus the ability to use DirectQuery, live connections, and gateway connections
SecurityBasic securityAdvanced security with sensitivity labeling and end-to-end encryption

Power BI Pro vs Premium

Here’s a detailed comparison of Power BI Pro and Premium in tabular format:

Feature / CapabilityPower BI ProPower BI Premium
Monthly Cost$10 per user/month ([Pricing & Product ComparisonMicrosoft Power BI
LicensingPer userPer capacity or Premium Per User (PPU)
Data Refresh Rate8 times per dayUp to 48 times per day
Data Capacity10 GB per user100 TB of storage per capacity and larger individual dataset sizes
Report SharingWith other Power BI Pro users within your organizationWith anyone within your organization, even if they don’t have a Pro license
Dedicated Cloud ResourcesNot availableAvailable
On-Premises ReportingNot availablePower BI Report Server included for on-premises reporting
PerformanceShared capacity with other customersDedicated capacity for consistent performance
Paginated ReportsNot availableAvailable
AI (Artificial Intelligence)Not availableAI capabilities for advanced analytics
DataflowsCreation and usage with Pro limitationsEnhanced compute and larger storage for dataflows
Advanced SecurityStandard security featuresAdvanced security features including Bring Your Own Key (BYOK)
Geographic DistributionNot availableMulti-geo support for data residency
Usage MetricsBasic usage metricsAdvanced usage metrics with more detailed telemetry
SupportStandard supportPriority support
XMLA Endpoint Read/WriteNot availableAvailable
Deployment PipelinesNot availableAvailable
AutoscaleNot availableAvailable


In conclusion, Microsoft Power BI offers a range of service tiers to cater to different user needs and organizational sizes, from individual users to large enterprises.

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Power BI Free is an excellent starting point for individuals looking to explore the capabilities of Power BI without any financial commitment. It allows users to create reports and visualizations, though it lacks the collaboration and sharing features necessary for team use.

Power BI Pro is the next step up and is designed for professionals and teams who need to collaborate on and share BI content. At $10 per user per month, it offers a robust set of features, including publishing reports, sharing dashboards, and accessing data more frequently. It’s ideal for small to medium-sized businesses that require secure sharing and collaboration within the organization.

Power BI Premium, on the other hand, is aimed at larger organizations that require a more powerful and scalable BI solution. It provides dedicated capacity, enhanced performance, larger data volumes, and advanced features such as AI, paginated reports, and on-premises reporting. Premium can be a significant investment but is justified by its enterprise-grade capabilities and the ability to serve a large number of users without the need for individual Pro licenses.

The choice between Free, Pro, and Premium will depend on the specific needs of the user or organization, such as the size of the team, the volume of data, collaboration requirements, and budget constraints. Each tier is designed to provide the tools and features necessary to transform data into actionable insights, with scalability in mind to grow alongside business needs.

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