Microsoft Power BI Pricing: Licensing and Ownership Costs

Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) solution with two product packages.

There are other similar solutions in a variety of price ranges. However, Power BI is one of the most affordable.

Micosoft Power BI Pricing

How is Power BI Priced?

Power BI has a simple pricing structure.

  • Power BI: This offering is free to any single user and comes with 1 GB of storage. Data can be streamed from this cloud offering at 10k rows/hour.
  • Power BI Pro: For $9.99/user/month, businesses have access to their own private cloud storage and each individual user can access all standard Power BI features. Each user receives 10 GB of storage, and data can be streamed at 1 million rows/hour.

In addition, Power BI Pro comes with collaboration tools for access control across permission-based groups and live data connectivity including a Data Connectivity Gateway for combining on-premise data with cloud data.

We’ve written a comprehensive review of Power BI with details on its strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a look at the highlights:

Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence and analytics service that provides a full overview of your most critical data. Connecting to all of your data sources, Power BI simplifies data evaluation and sharing with scalable dashboards, interactive reports, embedded visuals and more.

Pros: Power BI has a familiar and easy-to-use interface similar to Excel with the ability to create and import simple visuals.
Cons: Customers have said Microsoft Power BI Desktop doesn’t have the ability to publish reports with all associated data. This means some information can be left out of visualizations.


What are the key considerations?

As with every BI purchase, the right solution comes down to the business’s  specific needs.

Power BI Pro manages data in the cloud, and cloud storage isn’t a good fit for many businesses that must prioritize data security. This includes banking, insurance and healthcare fields where sensitive data carries a higher degree of risk.

Another key consideration is the total cost of ownership in addition to licensing fees. The price of Power BI Pro isn’t the total cost of introducing the solution to your company. Some key elements that will increase expense include IT services for:

  • Data migration during implementation
  • Maintaining on-premise data sources
  • Building dashboards and reports

These additional costs largely depend on if the company already has an in-house IT staff to manage this process or if it needs to use an outside agency for the job.

However, a notable advantage to Power BI is that it’s highly accessible as a Microsoft product. Originally it was an Excel add on, so many  users are already familiar with its basic features.


What are the alternatives?

Although Power BI just went live in the summer of 2015, it’s been noted as a highly disruptive technology and has made its way to direct comparisons with two of the most notable BI software vendors: Tableau and Qlik. Microsoft has been recognized through Gartner’s 2016 BI and Analytics Magic Quadrant Reports as a leader in this software space for the ninth straight year, consistently releasing top rated solutions.

We’ve compiled details and pricing structures of three popular options that are most similar to Power BI:

Tableau Online: Tableau is the most widely used BI tool and offers a cloud option. Tableau Online is an entirely cloud-based platform that’s hosted by the vendor so you don’t need to buy a server to host it yourself. This means you don’t need on-premise IT staff to maintain the server, and support and updates are included in the price. Tableau also offers a free alternative through Tableau Public, which is a community server where all published information is made public, and all users have access through Tableau Desktop, the authoring solution.

  • Public: Free
  • Online: $500 /user/year

Pros: The solution is easily accessible in the cloud for users to share reports quickly from anywhere. Tableau is also known as a leading visualization tool.
Cons: Businesses must rely on Tableau to maintain servers and provide support for any issues. There’s also an additional cost for each user to have access to Tableau Desktop. For more on this pricing structure, check out the full price of Tableau.


QlikSense: QlikSense is Qlik’s cloud-based option, similar to Power BI Pro, and it builds on the core product QlikView. QlikView distinguishes itself from other BI tools through its unique inference engine, which maintains data associations automatically. Most traditional BI tools rely on query-based tools that divorce data from its context. For end users seeking actionable, in-depth insights from data to make decisions, query-based tools don’t provide enough information. Self-service options aren’t as available as they are with other BI solutions, so QlikView is regarded as a data expert’s tool.

  • Free up to five users, with max application size of 25 MB and max memory of 250 MB
  • $20 /user/month, with max application size of 50 MB and max memory of 10 GB

Pros: QlikView has Google-like search protocol for finding data, and it gives users the ability to combine data sources.
Cons: Self-service is difficult for non-expert users, and there are some filtering issues at the end user and developer levels. isn’t a good fit for an enterprise business, but it’s useful for creating dashboards and assembling reports for a small team. It can’t connect to as many data sources as Tableau, but it’s compatible with sources run on R, Python, MATLAB, Excel, Javascript and Web App. Here’s the pricing:

  • Community: Free, can create one private chart
  • Professional: $19 user/month with no chart restrictions
  • On-Premise: $9,950 /year for five users or less with no chart restrictions

Pros: is inexpensive and easy to use for building charts, reports and dashboards.
Cons: The solution is not suited for data teams larger than five users and only serves as a visualization tool.


Bottom Line

Power BI is a popular solution that has gained recent popularity, but it’s not the only option.

If you need a place to start, check out The Definitive Guide to Business Intelligence. It features over 50 experts and offers an impartial overview of all the need-to-know details of buying this software.

You can also download our BI Comparison Guide where we’ve broken down all the core features and shortcomings in an easily comparable spreadsheet for all of the top BI solutions.

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