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Microsoft unveils per-user pricing for Power BI Premium

Microsoft is making Power BI Premium, the top-tier version of the big tech vendor's business intelligence platform, available on a per-user basis for the first time.

Microsoft unveiled Power BI Premium Gen 2, which includes a new pricing model that will make the top-tier version of the tech giant's business intelligence platform available on a per-user basis.

Starting April 2, Power BI Premium will be available for $20 per user, per month. The platform, first released in June 2017, is already available to organizations via a license that costs $4,995 per capacity, per month.

Comparatively, Power BI Pro costs $9.99 per user, per month or comes free with a subscription to Microsoft Office 365, which costs $57 per user, per month. Power BI Pro users can add Power BI Premium for $10 per user, per month.

The news was revealed on March 2 during Microsoft Ignite 2021, a virtual conference hosted by Microsoft.

"We've had one request since the day we launched Premium," said Arun Ulag, corporate vice president of the business intelligence platform at Microsoft. "Customers have always asked us to bring the price of Premium to a per-user level."

Pricing, meanwhile, is a significant differentiator for Power BI, according to Rita Sallam, a VP analyst at Gartner.

While Power BI's capabilities are in line with those of Microsoft's competitors and Power BI is a "fast follower" when other vendors introduce innovations into the market, its low price can make it an attractive option for organizations.

Arun Ulag, corporate vice president of the business intelligence platform at Microsoft.
Arun Ulag, corporate vice president of the business intelligence platform at Microsoft, discusses Power BI during Microsoft Ignite.

Qlik, among Microsoft's competitors, doesn't make its pricing information public, but Tableau Explorer costs $35 per user, per month and Tableau Creator is $70 per user, per month.

"Microsoft is making it easier and easier for people to buy Power BI and to be successful at it, particularly if they're in an Azure environment," Sallam said shortly before the start of Ignite.

With Power BI Premium Gen 2, customers get a series of capabilities that are not available in Power BI Pro. They include:

  • automated machine learning to build models without having to write code;
  • data that is enriched with a series of functions from Azure Cognitive Services, including sentiment analysis of comments and key phrase extraction;
  • no-code data preparation using a visual interface;
  • deployment pipelines that enable teams to manage their content and test reports, dashboards and data sets before they are consumed by end users;
  • pixel-perfect paginated reports;
  • the ability to handle greater volumes of data; and
  • enhanced security features.
We've had one request since the day we launched Premium. Customers have always asked us to bring the price of Premium to a per-user level.
Arun UlagCorporate vice president of the business intelligence platform, Microsoft

"Power BI Premium provides some incredibly different capabilities for our customers," Ulag said.

In addition to Power BI Premium Gen 2, Microsoft unveiled new Power BI capabilities in preview.

All Power BI users can now try out the new Power BI embedded analytics playground, a hub that includes a developer sandbox to build reports using Power BI's application programming interfaces, a repository to explore APIs, and a showcase where developers can experience APIs in action.

In addition, Power BI Premium users can explore virtual network connectivity for Power BI data sets and an autoscale capability that automatically adds a virtual core -- at a cost that can be charged to an Azure pay-as-you-go account -- to Premium's server capacity when usage spikes and then removes it when usage returns to normal.

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