Microsoft Power BI Makeover: 6 Big Improvements - InformationWeek

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1/27/2015
04:20 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Microsoft Power BI Makeover: 6 Big Improvements

Microsoft's revamp of its cloud-based Power BI will challenge IBM, Tableau, and other business intelligence vendors. Here are six new ways it should appeal to users.
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Free basics
Free Power BI and Power BI both share plenty of standard capabilities, including an online BI Site where users can create and share dashboards and reports, the free desktop/laptop Power BI Designer data-visualization tool, native mobile apps, cloud-service data-integration options, and basic access to Excel and flat data files. The service responds to typed natural-language queries (in English) with data visualizations.
Microsoft's free Power BI Designer will naturally draw comparisons to Tableau Software's free Tableau Public offering, which includes desktop data-visualization software with limited data-access options. The $9.99 per-user-per-month Power BI Pro service now presents head-to-head competition for IBM Watson Analytics' paid service, which costs $30 per user per month, and is limited to 2 GB of storage per user.

Free basics
Free Power BI and Power BI both share plenty of standard capabilities, including an online BI Site where users can create and share dashboards and reports, the free desktop/laptop Power BI Designer data-visualization tool, native mobile apps, cloud-service data-integration options, and basic access to Excel and flat data files. The service responds to typed natural-language queries (in English) with data visualizations.

Microsoft's free Power BI Designer will naturally draw comparisons to Tableau Software's free Tableau Public offering, which includes desktop data-visualization software with limited data-access options. The $9.99 per-user-per-month Power BI Pro service now presents head-to-head competition for IBM Watson Analytics' paid service, which costs $30 per user per month, and is limited to 2 GB of storage per user.

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
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1/28/2015 | 1:32:48 PM
Aggressive pricing and an olive branch to the rest of the industry
The whole Freemium thing is consistent with Microsoft's long-standing approach of appealing to the biggest possible market. After all, Microsoft gives away BI capabilities as fringe benefits to licensees of Microsoft SQL Server, Office, and Sharepoint. So there's no surprise there and burying Power BI inside of Office 365 and pricing it at $20 to $52 per user, per month was severely limiting its potential.

What's refreshing here -- and consistent with changes at Microsoft in the Nadella era -- is the olive branch to third-party vendors like Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, etc. I'm also a bit surprised that Oracle is giving away Power BI Desgner. I suspected Power BI Designer would be a cloud-based tool when I first heard about it, but it's actually desktop/laptop software that might become a thorn in Tableau Software's side.
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