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Microsoft Expands Power BI Preview to More Markets, Data Sources

Microsoft on Monday announced the global availability of the Power BI preview, which was previously available only to U.S. businesses.

Power BI is Microsoft's cloud-based data visualization service that first launched in February 2014. In January of this year, Microsoft launched a preview of an updated Power BI product, as well as announced that it was revamping its pricing structure to include a free, standalone version. The preview, which was initially available only to users in the United States, is now available in over 140 additional markets as of Monday.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave the news of the expanded Power BI preview during the opening keynote of the Microsoft Convergence conference, taking place this week in Atlanta, Ga. "The real breakthrough with Power BI is that we now have made it very simple for any one of you who is a business decision-maker to create your own personalized dashboard," Nadella said.

Julia White, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft Office, gave a brief demo of the Power BI preview's dashboard on the large-screen, touch-based Surface Hub. White showed how users can tap on the Surface Hub's touchscreen to zoom in on a particular dataset, as well as drag and drop one table on top of another to combine both sets of data.

Microsoft also announced that it was planning to expand the list of supported data sources in Power BI.

"[W]e will be adding solutions for Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Acumatica, Zuora and Twilio," said James Phillips, corporate vice president of data experiences at Microsoft, in a blog post Monday. Power BI preview users can already access data from GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, SendGrid and Zendesk.

Microsoft has not said when the new Power BI will hit the "general availability" stage. When it does, it will become a standalone service with two pricing tiers -- the free version called "Power BI" and the more feature-rich "Power BI Pro" that will cost $9.99 per user per month.

The Power BI Pro license will replace the existing "Power BI for Office 365 Add-On" and "Power BI for Office 365 Standalone" licenses, according to this Microsoft page.

"[T]he Power BI service will become a standalone service [at general availability] and will no longer require SharePoint Online. Power BI will seamlessly work with Office 365 for customers with subscriptions to both," the page says.

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About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.