Microsoft Releases Power BI Pricing Info; Availability Expected Early 2014

Microsoft recently posted the pricing details for Power BI, its suite of solutions designed make it easy for Excel users to create visualizations from collections of data.

Microsoft first unveiled Power BI at the 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference and then released various updates to it late last year. While Power BI is currently still in the "preview" stage, the prices for the product are now available here, as noted on Monday by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley in an article. The pricing for the suite varies because organizations may already be licensed for some the components.

A Microsoft spokesperson indicated Tuesday that the company plans to announce the final Power BI product "early this year." The preview version is free to use in the meantime.

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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.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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