UPDATE: Microsoft Unveils Power BI Pricing
Microsoft has released pricing for its Power BI suite, which is currently available at the "preview" stage.
Power BI is a collection of solutions designed make it easy for Excel users to create visualizations from collections of data. Although the final product hasn't been rolled out quite yet, Microsoft had "quietly" posted the prices at this page, as noted on Monday by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, in an article. The pricing for the suite varies because organizations may already be licensed for some the components.
There are three Power BI plans listed. Microsoft is running a Power BI promo based on "Office 365 E3 or E4" subscription plans at $20 per user per month. However, that promo lacks SharePoint Online and some Excel add-ins needed for the data modeling and data visualization processes. The promo price apparently will go up to $33 per user per month after June 30, 2014.
The next Power BI pricing plan is called "Power BI Standalone," which includes SharePoint Online but also lacks the Excel add-ins. Power BI Standalone is priced at $40 per user per month.
Lastly, Microsoft has a "Power BI Standalone + Office 365 ProPlus" plan. This plan appears to include all of the Power BI components and is priced at $52 per user per month.
Microsoft lists all of the components in its Power BI solution at this page. The solution essentially depends on having Excel with various add-ins, along with SharePoint and Office 365 cloud-based services. Those components used in combination let end users familiar with Excel build data models that are as large as an Excel workbook, allowing trends to be displayed in graphic form.
Once the Power BI data models have been set up, it's possible to update them and manipulate the data. One of the more notable Power BI components in that respect is called "Q&A," which allows users to query a data model using "natural language." The Q&A service returns a visualization of the data based on what the end user types into a text field, interpreting what the user might have wanted to see. Q&A has been one of the more impressive Power BI components that Microsoft has demonstrated so far.
The cost of Microsoft's full "Power BI Standalone + Office 365 ProPlus" plan exceeds the costs of comparable BI services, such as Tableau, according to Andrew Brust, a Microsoft MVP and founder of Blue Badge Insights, as cited in Foley's article. Microsoft contends that Power BI is half the cost of Tableau, as noted by Microsoft MVP Chris Webb in a blog post. However, Webb admits that cost comparison depends on whether or not an organization is licensed for some of the components or not.
"As I've said numerous times already, looking at cost of Power BI on its own is misleading because the decision to use it or not will be bound up with larger corporate decisions about migrating to Office 2013 and Office 365," Webb stated in his blog post.
Microsoft first unveiled Power BI in July and then released various updates to it last fall. Update: As noted, Power BI is still at the preview stage, even though the pricing is posted. A Microsoft spokesperson indicated that the company plans to announce the final Power BI product "early this year." The preview version is free to use in the meantime.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.