Power BI License Types: Power BI Free Vs Pro Vs Premium Plan Comparison

Power BI license types
24 Aug 2021


This article describes the capabilities of individual Microsoft Power BI license types. You will also understand the difference between the available Power BI license types and their capabilities and benefits. 

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI enables identification and quicker understanding of patterns by analyzing and exploring data visually both in the cloud as well as the on-premises version. Additionally, you can also transform your data to look more presentable visually and share it with your colleagues and team across any device, and use the AI software to enhance your collaboration effort through the ability to share interactive reports and customized dashboards. The multiple versions of the software often lead to the debate on the benefits of Power BI Free vs Pro versions.

What are Power BI license types that are available?

Power BI currently has three versions:

  1. Microsoft Power BI Free / Desktop
  2. Microsoft Power BI Pro
  3. Microsoft Power BI Premium

What is Power BI Desktop?

Power BI Desktop is one of the free versions of Power BI that you can install on your local system with all the basic features of Power BI. With Power BI Desktop you can access the basic features of Power BI and it acts as a support to the main, cloud-based application. Power BI Free version allows you to connect to 70+ data sources while enabling you to publish data to the web, analyze it and export it to excel, and much more. It is the ideal version to start with no matter your skill level. 

Who is Power BI Free/Desktop for?

Power BI Free is ideal for individuals and small-scale businesses, who are not looking for large-scale collaborations or integrations. Power BI Free is for all users who prefer gathering meaningful insights from their data and implementing it in their business. 

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What is Power BI Pro?

Power BI Pro is the complete version of Power BI. It involves the ability to use Power BI for both building dashboards, reports as well as unrestricted viewing. While it also allows sharing and consumption of your created reports and also reports shared by others, which is not available in the Power BI Desktop version. The Power BI Pro version gives you an added advantage wherein, you have the capability to share your reports, data, and dashboards with numerous other users, who also have the Power BI Pro license. It also gives you a 10 GB/Pro User Data storage limit, and the ability to create an app-based workspace, which is not available in the free version.

Who is Power BI Pro for?

Power BI Pro is licensed by individual users, which means that for you to use Power BI Pro in your organizations means every user will receive their Power BI Pro license and the collaborative practice of which will allow every member of the organization to integrate their workspace and therefore, combine their efforts. To elaborate, in an organization with 10 employees that need full access to capabilities offered by Power BI Pro – you will need 10 licenses of Power BI Pro. 

If you have a greater quantity of users, Power BI Premium would be a better idea – about which we will be talking about in the next section of the article.

Power BI Pro Cost:

The Pro plan costs $9.99/user/month. Users can try a free trial for 60 days before purchasing the subscription. Power BI Pro Plan includes:

  1. Data collaboration
  2. Data governance, 
  3. Building dashboards with a 360-degree real-time view
  4. The ability to publish reports anywhere

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What is Power BI Premium?

Premium is an organizational subscription that has a different way to store content called a capacity which is a virtual container. With Premium capacity, anyone with permissions can view the content, regardless of whether they are outside or inside the organization, without purchasing individual Power BI Pro or Premium per-user licenses. Although you will need to specify the capacity accurately and ensure it has the ability to handle your analytical and reporting needs, it facilitates your organization to use this dedicated capacity and hardware rather than relying on Microsoft’s shared capacity. This enables for a much larger scale and ensures better performance provided you size the capacity accurately. Microsoft proposes three different sizes for Premium capacity and each of these sizes comes with a varying number of v-cores and memory size.

  1. More comprehensive scale and performance for your Power BI reports.
  2. Adaptability to license by capacity
  3. Best-in-class features for data visualization.
  4. Unified self-service and enterprise-level BI with numerous Premium-only capabilities that support complex workloads and require enterprise scale.
  5. Built-in license to extend on-premises BI with Power BI Report Server.
  6. Ability to share Power BI content with everyone, including people outside your company, without purchasing a per-user license.

Who is Power BI Premium for?

Organizations with a large number of users needing to collaborate in real-time, ideally prefer going with Power BI Premium. The application is equipped to address the challenges of a large enterprise with huge deployments and workloads.

Power BI Premium Cost:

The Premium plan begins at $4,995 a month/dedicated cloud compute and storage resource. However, this does not involve the cost of licensing for individual Pro and Free licenses required for each user in your organization.

Categories: Microsoft Power Platform, Power BI, Uncategorized