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Power BI Licensing Options – What fits your needs best?

Power BI Licensing Options – What fits your needs best?

Power BI Desktop

This free version of Power BI is designed for the single user to create ad hoc reporting and data exploration. This software, unlike the other two options is installed directly to your local desktop. The dataset size is limited to 1GB per individual dataset and an overall storage quote of 10GB per user. With this option you also have the ability to review reports or dashboards that have been published in a Premium workspace (see below). While Power BI Desktop can create reports that the user can view, it lacks the ability to share with others. Plus there are gaps in functionality between the two, see the chart below for details.

Power BI Desktop is a great edition to get started with while there is no software investment cost. 

Power BI Pro

Power BI Pro version allows sharing of content between users – which is powerful. This version utilizes shared processing power within Office 365 (you do not get dedicated compute resources). Like the free tier, there is a 1GB per individual dataset limit. There is a 10GB limit to each personal workspace and data can be refreshed up to a maximum of eight times a day. Power BI Pro is included in both the Office 365 E5 or M365 E5 license packages. Microsoft also offers a separate package for $9.99 per user per month.

Power BI Pro is a great solution to start building in Power BI, especially when there are a small number of creators and consumers of the data who can all be licensed with the Power BI Pro license. Or when a customer is already licensed for the Office/Microsoft 365 E5 plans and are okay with the limits in data refresh and capacity of Pro- see below for detailed chart.

Power BI Licensing Options Free Vs. Pro Comparison

List of Features Supported by User Type

Power BI Licensing Options


Power BI Premium

The premium version of Power BI, is priced based on compute capacity (how much compute power is needed) and provides dedicated storage for your business in – up to 100TB per tenant. It allows for Desktop (free) users to access and consume the data contained in the dashboards. So, only creators of the dashboards and other Power BI content would need to be licensed with a Power BI Pro license. Power BI Premium provides a maximum of 48 times per day for data refresh.

Customers also have the ability to run a Power BI Server on premises if that is their preference. The license for the Power BI Report Server is offered two ways. The first is included in the Power BI Premium license. The second is included in the license for SQL Server Enterprise licensing when owned with Software Assurance.

Depending on the amount of storage and performance speed needed, the prices can range, we can work with you to find an option that fits your needs. For example, the P1 Node, which is the smallest offered, provides 8 cores of dedicated processing power (4 for rendering, 4 for processing of data), 25GB of RAM, and costs $5,000 per month. Customers can add additional capacity by moving up to other plans like the P2 which doubles the number of processors and cost. Or by adding additional Nodes.

Power BI Premium is for clients who will have a large number of consumers of data from a smaller number of creators and / or those that need the additional processing power and storage to work through their complex queries with large data sets.

Need Help?

As a leading system integrator for Microsoft’s cloud solutions, Interlink Cloud Advisors has helped a wide range of organizations successfully implement Power BI.

Contact us to further discuss which licensing options are best for you and the options.

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