by Robert French,
Data Consultant, Eyecademy

In the last article in our Ultimate Power BI Licensing Guide, we explored the impressive functionality that comes with a Power BI Free license.

If you or some of your users have had a chance to explore Power BI so far, you will hopefully see very quickly that it has fantastic possibilities. With the ease of creating reports and the insights gained from a quick exploration of the data, anyone can quickly and easily get answers from reports by using the ingeniously simple reports. Not to mention you can also access your new the reports from a phone or tablet.  Suddenly creating reports is easy, simple, and fun again.

Whilst creating amazing reports and making them available online is easy and simple with a free Power BI license, the next step is to share them with your colleagues.

At this point, we need to start thinking about licensing costs.  To share a report securely online, a Power BI Pro license is required first by the person who wants to share the report (the report author), and to view a Power BI report, a Power BI Pro license is also required by the reader (there are some exceptions to this, more about that in future blog posts)

The cost of a Pro license is £90 per user / per year at time of publication (March 2020).

As a suggested starting point, you could set up a minimum of two Power BI Pro accounts.  This will enable either account to publish, share and view reports published by the other Pro account.

Power BI & Office 365

Microsoft Power BI Pro can be integrated alongside existing Microsoft tools such as Office 365 and SharePoint, both online and on-premise.

The Office 365 subscription includes some excellent collaborative tools, such as Teams and SharePoint Online, and when you start to explore these tools, you will quickly realize it is possible to add Power BI reports in a variety of ways. Users can easily create Power BI reports, that can then be uploaded to Power BI service.

Once reports are uploaded on the Power BI service, they can be easily integrated into Teams, Sharepoint online.  However, for any user to access the reports, the receiving user must also have a Power BI Pro license.  For an SME, this might be a solution worth considering, since the Office 365 administrator can control the licensing of users for Power BI Free and Pro for the whole organisation.

There is even a 3rd party tool which can incorporate Power BI visuals into PowerPoint, Outlook, and Word!

Power BI Workspaces

As the number of reports and popularity of using this type of reporting increases, the next step is to organise the reports.  At this point in the journey Workspaces should be considered.

Why use Workspaces?

As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  The most likely outcome as people discover just how easy it is to create amazing looking reports, that provide valuable, actionable business insight, is that a large number of reports will be generated by the end-users.  While this is wonderful, the downside is that now there is a need to bring some form of organization to the newly created reports. This is where Workspaces in the Power BI service comes in, which enables the management of a large number of reports.

With Workspaces, everything has a place and everything is kept in its place.  All the items relating to one business unit can be stored in one place, e.g. dashboards, datasets, and reports, as they all share the one single unified container.

Any IT systems administrator uses groups to define access and security to resources in an IT enterprise environment.  The same principle can also be used for access and security permission for Power BI Workspaces, which means that by using groups, you can administer who has access to multiple workspaces easy and simply (or to use different words you will make your System Admin’s day!).  With the added benefit of increasing efficiency, this will provide an indirect cost saving as you do not have to grant permissions to resources on a user-by-user basis.

Workspaces also have different levels of permissions so can allow only certain groups to administer workspaces.  Why would this important?  It’s not a good idea to allow developers to edit that production report that many of your VIP users depend on, is it? By creating and administering different workspaces for developers, testing and production, you can allow everyone to do their job in the right way, in the right place.

Mobile Reporting

One of the dreams of many report developers is the ability to allow end users to have access to reports on their mobile devices. If a user has a Power BI Pro license, then they are able to access Power BI reports from their phone or tablet.  There is even a dedicated report designer built into Power BI Desktop to make sure reports look their best when viewed using a mobile device.

That’s not all, there are a number of really exciting and interesting features included for free built into the mobile application including;

  • Interface designed specifically for mobile devices
  • Collaborative messaging – add annotations to the reports
  • Report tooltips
  • Frequency reports and favourite reports
  • Report drill through
  • Bookmarks for reports

All these features from your favourite mobile device. 21st century reporting in your hand, when you want, wherever you are

There are other advantages to Power BI Pro including custom branding, monitoring usage of the workspace, Power BI Apps and more. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to learn more in a future Ultimate Licensing Guide instalment!

Comparing Power BI Free & Pro

Power BI Free Power BI Pro
Create and View Dashboards and Reports Yes Yes
Share Dashboards & Reports with other Power BI Users No Yes
Access via Mobile Devices Yes Yes
Consume Curated Content Packs (Dynamics, Salesforce, Google Analytics) Yes Yes
Import from Excel, CSV, and Power BI Desktop Files Yes Yes
Publish to Web Yes Yes
Publish to Sharepoint No Yes
Live Data Sources No Yes
Access On-Prem Data via Gateways (Personal & Enterprise) Yes Yes
Use Office 365 Groups in Power BI No Yes
Create & Publish Apps No Yes
Consume Apps No Yes
Manage Access Control through Active Directory Groups No Yes

Positives to Power BI Pro

  • All the benefits of Power BI Free plus Sharing Dashboards with other Pro users, publishing to Sharepoint, live data sources, utilising Office 365 and Active Directory Groups and more
  • Integrated into Microsoft Office 365 and Azure

Negatives to Power BI Pro

  • Not easy to share with large number of colleagues if they do not have a Power BI Pro License
  • Cannot sign up with certain email addresses e.g.,,, and others

Building on Part 1 of our Ultimate Power BI Licensing Guide, we have looked at what you get for a small investment of money, using the combination of the free Power BI Desktop application and the Power BI service.

With this combination, you can easily visualize your data, view it online and with a mobile device. Anyone in your organization with a Power BI Pro license can view these reports, which can also be easily integrated into applications like Office 365.

Next time, we will look at the next step in scalability – using Power BI reports with a larger audience, without the requirement to have a Power BI Pro license to view the reports.

Any questions on Power BI Pro so far?