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Microsoft Upgrades and Discounts Power BI SaaS-Based Analytics Tool

Microsoft is giving its Power BI analytical service an upgrade with added connectivity sources, support for iOS and will be available for $9.99 for a premium edition to be called Power BI Pro. The company will also offer a free version with limited functionality that it will retain the Power BI name.  

Power BI, a cloud-based business analytics service launched a year ago, was aimed at both technical and general business users. The browser-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool generates operational dashboards. As noted in our First Look at Power BI last year, this tool adds new functionality to existing Microsoft information management offerings, namely Excel 2013, Office 365 and SharePoint 2013. 

Microsoft currently has three pricing tiers for Power BI, running as high as $52 per user per month included with Office 365 Pro Plus, $40 for a standalone version and $33 when added on to an Office 365 E3/E4 subscription. Starting Feb. 1 Microsoft is offering one paid subscription at the substantially reduced $9.99 price, which is 75 percent less expensive than the highest tier. The company will offer the free version when the upgrade becomes generally available.

The free version is limited to 1GB of data per month per user, whereas the paid subscription will allow up to 10GB according to a comparison of the two options. Users of the paid version will also have access to 1 million rows per hour of streaming data compared to 10,000 rows for the free service. The paid Power BI Pro is required to use such features as access to live data sources, the data management gateway and various collaboration features including the ability to share refreshable team dashboards, create and publish customized content packs, use of Active Directory groups for sharing and managing access control and shared data queries through the data catalog.

With the new preview, users can sign in with any business e-mail address, initially only in the United States. Microsoft said it'll be available for those in other countries in the future. The new data sources supported include GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid and Zendesk, noted James Phillips, Microsoft's general manager for data experiences, in a blog post Tuesday.  In the pipeline are Inkling Markets, Intuit, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Sage, Sumo Logic, Visual Studio Application Insights and Visual Studio Online, among others. "Power BI is 'hybrid' by design, so customers can leverage their on-premises data investments while getting all the benefits of our cloud-based analytics service," he said.

Microsoft also is offering a new tool called Power BI Designer, designed to let business analysts connect with, model and analyze data, he added, letting them easily publish results to any other Power BI user. The company also released a preview of Power BI for iPad, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. Phillips noted versions for iPhones, Android and Windows universal apps will be available later this year.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/28/2015 at 3:20 PM


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