Post by Rob Collie

Power BI = YouTube for Workbooks, But Also Now Something Else

$9.99 Per User Per Month Starting Feb 1!

Wow, this is awesome.  What I have been calling “Power BI Online” – which is one of the easiest ways to get a Power Pivot / Excel server, aka YouTube for Workbooks, is dropping in price from $40 per month per user to $9.99 – us math folks call that a 75% price cut.

So if you’ve been “priced out” of the server market up until now, next month may be your opening.  Read the Microsoft Announcement.

And in arguably bigger news… MS announces a FREE version?

My Power BI V2 Preview Site - 100% Free Forever

This is the Preview Site That I Signed Up Today.  Took Two Minutes.
And it Will Continue to be 100% Free.

Even more interesting (perhaps) is that today MS launched a “Power BI v2” – in Preview mode.

As part of this v2, they are introducing a two-tier pricing plan: Free and Pro.  The plans can be viewed by clicking the image below:

Power BI V2 - Pricing Card

Click the Image to View the New, V2 Pricing Plans

Comparing the three versions:  V1, V2 Free, and V2 Pro

***UPDATED as of Jan 29

I think it’s fair I’ve quickly thrown together the following table based on what I understand so far:

Power BI V1

V2 – Free

V2 – Pro

Available Today?

Yes – Has Been for Awhile

In Preview (Preview is somewhat a hybrid between Free & Pro)

In Preview (Preview is somewhat a hybrid between Free & Pro)

Can You Use Excel as Your Report Surface?


No – But Maybe in the Future?  (This is a BIG question for me of course)

No – But Maybe in the Future?  (This is a BIG question for me of course)


$9.99 per user per month (but that’s on top of SharePoint Online Pricing, so actually it’s more than $9.99)

(and will remain
free even after
the Preview ends)

$9.99 per user per month (and so far, it seems like that’s an all-inclusive price, but we will wait and see)

Can you use their new Power BI Designer to build dashboards?




Does it Support Automated Refresh of Models and Reports?

Yes – Through the Data Management Gateway

Yes – But Only via SaaS data sources like OR via “grabbing” workbooks from OneDrive (there is no connectivity to on-premises data sources)

Yes – everything that Free can do, PLUS connectivity to on-premises data sources via the Data Mgmt Gateway

Data Refresh Limits

1x Daily Refresh, Unclear if there is a “rows per hour” limit, but likely this becomes equivalent to Pro in the future (1x Hourly and 1M Rows per Hour)

1x Daily Refresh, maximum of 10K rows per hour.

1x Hourly Refresh, maximum of 1 Million rows per hour.

Data Capacity

250 MB per workbook, but you can seemingly upload an unlimited number of those today. Might be Reduced to Pro Level in the Future (10 GB per user – which is still A LOT.)

1 GB per User (which is quite a bit considering how much you can fit into a compressed Power Pivot model, but I think still capped at 250 MB per workbook?)

10 GB per User (but I think still capped at 250 MB per workbook?)

Can it “live connect” to on-premises SSAS servers, thus serving as a UX layer for data that remains safely inside the corporate firewall?

I Think This is Planned but Not Yet Ready




  1. It sounds like the Preview is a “mish-mash” of what Free and Pro will look like once they move from Preview to General Availability.  I’m not 100% on the details yet, but it sounds like maybe they don’t have the data refresh limits in place yet for instance, AND you can connect to your SSAS on-premises servers.  So Preview is kinda… Pro.
  2. OneDrive-based workbooks as refreshable data sources – for the time being this means “Power Pivot Data Model Workbooks” as opposed to “sheets of raw data in Excel.”  Also, it’s up to YOU to get that OneDrive workbook updated – those don’t refresh themselves as part of this service.

I will continue to update this as info becomes clearer.  And please feel free to let me know if YOU know how to clarify it in any way.

Last Note:  Never “Sleep” on Mount Redmond

Mount Redmond :)

In JRR Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion,” Mordor unveils a secret weapon – the world’s first dragon – and unleashes it on Middle Earth.

This dragon – named Glaurung – engages the forces of light, immediately gets shot full of arrows, and then retreats back into Mordor, never to be seen again.  Everyone regards Glaurung the Novelty as a joke, and forgets about this failed little experiment.

Centuries later though, Glaurung re-emerges, now MUCH older, bigger, and equipped with incredibly thick scales.  Glaurung v2 is an unstoppable juggernaut, lays waste to entire kingdoms, and takes one of those kingdoms as its lair.  Glaurung basically says “how you like me NOW?”

I see Microsoft, and honestly myself, through this lens.  Never look at their first effort and think that’s the end of it.  They are hampered by politics and Big Company inertia, for sure, but they never stop chugging.  Rust Never Sleeps, said Neil Young.  Neither does Microsoft, and neither should your perception of them.