Ready to get started?  Excellent!  Here’s some fantastic news!

  1. PowerPivot (and the rest of the desktop Power BI suite) ranges in price from FREE to VERY INEXPENSIVE, depending which version of Excel you are running.
  2. Yes, there are multiple versions of PowerPivot, but we will make that all clear and painless for you below.

First Question:  Power BI in Excel, Power BI Desktop, or both?

Excel PowerPivot

Advantages:

  • Tightly Integrated into the world’s most popular data tool
  • Readily adopted by existing PivotTable users
  • Replaces the “VLOOKUP grind” with nimble (and fun!) thinking

Power BI Desktop

Advantages:

  • Modern visualizations and highly-interactive dashboards in minutes
  • Optimized for publishing to mobile devices as well as PC’s
  • Easy to get, regardless of what version of Excel you have
The answer IS often “both!”

Many of our clients end up using both “flavors” of these tools – Excel PowerPivot and PBI Desktop – as part of a hybrid environment.  Each one brings its own strengths to the table that are uniquely valuable.  But unlike most hybrid arrangements where your work ends up “silo’d” in one tool or the other, Excel Excel and PBI Desktop share the same engines and languages “under the hood,” so your investments in one are portable to the other.

OK, here’s how to get each “flavor.” Just select the appropriate tab for the version(s) that interest you:

Power BI Desktop is 100% FREE and SUPER simple to download and install.

Just grab the installer from here

Note: that is the 64-bit version, which is absolutely the one you want.  If for some reason you NEED 32-bit, you can get it from here

Windows Store Version: The windows store version has one additional feature…AUTO UPDATE! Download it from here if you are able.

Office 365 Subscribers Have a Few Options

PowerPivot *IS* included in the following Office 365 Plans:

Office 365 ProPlus

Office 365 E3

Office 365 E4 and E5

Just to be clear, here are some Office 2016 versions that we are positive do NOT include PowerPivot:

Office 365 Home
Office 365 Personal
Office 365 Business Essentials
Office 365 Business
Office 365 Business Premium
Office 365 Enterprise E1

For those of you who prefer non-subscription versions, good news.  Unlike the 2013 debacle, Office 2016 *does* offer PowerPivot in the Pro SKU that’s available for retail purchase:

Purchase and Download Office 2016 Pro from Amazon Here

What About Excel Standalone?

YES, PowerPivot IS included in the Standalone Excel SKU as well, which is available here.

What Versions of Office 2016 do NOT Include PowerPivot?

Just to be clear, here are some Office 2016 versions that we are positive do NOT include PowerPivot:

Home and Business
Home and Student

A quick way to confirm whether you have it or NOT, go to Excel Options, click the Add-Ins tab, and see if Power Pivot is listed in either of the two places below:

If it’s listed at the top, under Active Add-Ins, great, you are all set!

If it’s listed at the bottom, in the Inactive section, click here for instructions.

Follow these steps to activate Power Pivot:

If Power Pivot does NOT appear in either list, click here for instructions.

This means that you do not have the “Pro Plus” version of Office. (Yes, you might have “Professional,” but that’s not the same as “Pro Plus.”) And the Pro Plus version of Office 2016 is the primary (but not only!) “vehicle” for PowerPivot 2016 distribution.

So, what to do? Unlike with Office 2010, the 2016 version of PowerPivot is NOT available as a separate download. You do, however, still have a few options:

  1. Talk to your IT department (assuming you have one) about upgrading your desktop to Pro Plus.
  2. Go to Office.com and purchase Office 365 Pro Plus, Office 365 E3, or Office 365 E4 (other versions, including Office 365 E1, Business Premium, and Home, do NOT include PowerPivot!)
  3. Purchase a “Standalone” version of Excel 2016 and install it “over the top” of your existing Office 2016 install. Excel 2016 Standalone DOES include PowerPivot, and is available in the US for about $130. For instance, get it here from Microsoft.

Once you’ve succeeded with one of those three options, PowerPivot will now appear in the list of add-ins, so just follow the instructions above to activate it.

32 Bit, 64 Bit – How Many Bits Do I Need?

At PowerPivotPro, all of our Power Pivot laptops and workstations are running the 64-bit version of Office and Power Pivot. That’s because 64-bit is significantly more stable than 32-bit, and also lets us work with larger amounts of data. So if 64-bit is an option for you, we highly recommend it.

What’s that? You don’t know whether you are running 32- or 64-bit? Don’t feel bad. There’s never been a reason to know that, because before PowerPivot, most desktop software used so little of your computer’s horsepower that 32-bit was more than enough. PowerPivot is the reason to care.

Figuring out whether you are running 32- or 64-bit Excel is very easy to do, just click on the File tab in Excel, then follow these three steps:

64 Bit is Sometimes Hard to Get

If you are an individual or a small company, it’s generally pretty easy to uninstall 32-bit Office, and install 64-bit Office instead.

At larger organizations, however, it’s usually more difficult. IT departments are often reluctant to let you run 64-bit Office, because larger organizations often have dozens of Office add-in software products deployed, and those are generally only built to work with 32-bit Office. (And no, you can’t just run 64-bit Excel while keeping the rest of Office at 32-bit, nor can you run 32-bit and 64-bit Office “side by side” on the same computer. Yes, this is sad, but it’s the truth, and it’s not our nature to sugarcoat things. We suspect it’s not your nature, either.)

Even if you DO work at just such a large organization, don’t give up hope on 64-bit however! There are options, such as:

  1. Run 32-bit on your “primary” computer, and designate/acquire a second computer as your dedicated 64-bit PowerPivot laboratory.
  2. Ask IT to set up a shared workstation for remote access (using Remote Desktop, Citrix, or similar technology) that you can connect to and use for PowerPivot work.
  3. Set up 64-bit on a home computer, build some workbooks that prove PowerPivot’s worth, and THEN seek buy-in on option 1 or 2.

Surprise! You may already have Power Pivot and just not know it. Many versions of Excel 2013 come with Power Pivot already installed, but not activated.

To see if this is the case, go to Excel Options, click the Add-Ins tab, and see if Power Pivot is listed in either of the two places below:

If it’s listed at the bottom, in the Inactive section, click here for instructions.

Follow these steps to activate Power Pivot:

 

If Power Pivot does NOT appear in either list, click here for instructions.

This means that you do not have the “Pro Plus” version of Office. (Yes, you might have “Professional,” but that’s not the same as “Pro Plus.”) And the Pro Plus version of Office 2013 is the primary (but not only!) “vehicle” for Power Pivot 2013 distribution.

So, what to do? Unlike with Office 2010, the 2013 version of Power Pivot is NOT available as a separate download. You do, however, still have a few options:

  1. Talk to your IT department (assuming you have one) about upgrading your desktop to Pro Plus.
  2. Go to Office.com and purchase Office 365 Pro Plus, Office 365 E3, or Office 365 E4 (other versions, including Office 365 E1, Business Premium, and Home, do NOT include Power Pivot!)

Once you’ve succeeded with one of those two options, Power Pivot will now appear in the list of add-ins, so just follow the instructions above to activate it.

32 Bit, 64 Bit – How Many Bits Do I Need?

At PowerPivotPro, all of our Power Pivot laptops and workstations are running the 64-bit version of Office and Power Pivot. That’s because 64-bit is significantly more stable than 32-bit, and also lets us work with larger amounts of data. So if 64-bit is an option for you, we highly recommend it.

What’s that? You don’t know whether you are running 32- or 64-bit? Don’t feel bad. There’s never been a reason to know that, because before Power Pivot, most desktop software used so little of your computer’s horsepower that 32-bit was more than enough. Power Pivot is the reason to care.

Figuring out whether you are running 32- or 64-bit Excel is very easy to do, just click on the File tab in Excel, then follow these three steps:

64Or32Part2Space

64 Bit is Sometimes Hard to Get

If you are an individual or a small company, it’s generally pretty easy to uninstall 32-bit Office, and install 64-bit Office instead.

At larger organizations, however, it’s usually more difficult. IT departments are often reluctant to let you run 64-bit Office, because larger organizations often have dozens of Office add-in software products deployed, and those are generally only built to work with 32-bit Office. (And no, you can’t just run 64-bit Excel while keeping the rest of Office at 32-bit, nor can you run 32-bit and 64-bit Office “side by side” on the same computer. Yes, this is sad, but it’s the truth, and it’s not our nature to sugarcoat things. We suspect it’s not your nature, either.)

Even if you DO work at just such a large organization, don’t give up hope on 64-bit however! There are options, such as:

  1. Run 32-bit on your “primary” computer, and designate/acquire a second computer as your dedicated 64-bit Power Pivot laboratory.
  2. Ask IT to set up a shared workstation for remote access (using Remote Desktop, Citrix, or similar technology) that you can connect to and use for Power Pivot work.
  3. Set up 64-bit on a home computer, build some workbooks that prove Power Pivot’s worth, and THEN seek buy-in on option 1 or 2.

Don’t despair!  You can still get started TODAY – just select the “Power BI Desktop” tab and go from there.

And if you’re still excited about running the Excel PowerPivot (Data Modeling) tools, we are right there with you!  “Both” is a great answer, as we say above.  If you want both (or just the Excel version alone), it definitely IS time for you to upgrade to a newer version of Excel, because PowerPivot should be running on Excel 2013 or later. But hey, you needed a good reason anyway, since you’re missing so much good stuff, and not just Power BI! Slicers for instance – your life will never be the same.

As for which version (2013, 2016, or the upcoming 2019), well, you can really never go wrong with the newest version, so 2016 is probably the right call (assuming you are torn between them).

Before rushing out and buying 2016, however, we strongly recommend reading the Excel 2016 tab, because there are actually multiple flavors of 2016, and not all of them come with Power Pivot.