Power BI free vs pro versions

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft itself states: “Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics service that provides insights to enable informed and rapid decision making.” There are multiple versions of the software, which often leads to discussions about the benefits of Power BI Pro and free.

Regardless of free or Pro or premium licences, Power BI helps you visually inspect and analyse your data (both on-premises and in the cloud), enabling faster understanding and identification of patterns. You can also convert your data into presentation-friendly graphics and share them with colleagues on any device.

Power BI also helps improve collaboration through the ability to share interactive reports with custom dashboards. Finally, Microsoft Power BI can be easily deploy or install company-wide with an integrated security and management system.

What is Power BI Free?

Any Individual can sign-up to free Power BI account using their work or school account. With Power BI Free, you can explore data analysis and visualizations using My workspace. It can connect to over 70 data sources which makes very easy for the users to upload the data on their workspace., The free version has some restrictions where user can’t share their work with other users 

However, if you want to do your own analysis and don’t need to distribute the analysis to other end users, the free version is the best choice. The same visualization charts available in Power BI Pro and in Power BI Free. User needs to choose between these connection options to load the data into Power BI: Direct query, Live Connect or use the gateways


What is Power BI Pro?

Power BI pro is a type of individual user licence which enable user to read and interact with dashboards and reports published by other Power BI users.

The biggest difference between the Power BI Pro and Free is that Pro Licence allows you to share data, reports, and dashboards with many other users (unless Power BI premium capacity hosts that content) who have a Power BI Pro license and an app-based workspace. In addition, Power BI Pro has a  data storage limit of 10GB per user compared to free.

Who can use Power BI Pro?

Power BI pro is ideal for business analytics or data analytics users who regularly creating, consuming or sharing the data with larger audience within the organisation who are also Power BI pro users.

While opting for Power BI Pro licence in your organization, you’ll receive and share the Power BI Pro licenses that each individual has acquired, allowing each member of your organization to consolidate their workspaces and work. This means, if your organization has 20 users who need all the features of Power BI Pro to create dashboards and reports, you need 20 licenses of Power BI Pro. If you have a much larger number of users, the Power BI Premium  is a better choice because the cost far outweighs the benefits given the size of the operation.

What is the price of Power BI Pro?

The Pro plan is $ 9.99/ user per month. This includes data collaboration, data governance, creating dashboards with 360-degree real-time views, and publishing reports everywhere. Users can try it for free for 60 days before purchasing a subscription.

How to get a Power BI Pro membership?

To get a Power BI Pro license, do the following:

  • Open the Microsoft 365 admin center or click here to land on the subscription page
  • In the left navigation, select Billing> Subscriptions.
  • Select Add Subscription in the upper right corner of the Subscriptions page.
  • Find the subscription offer you need. In the
  • Enterprise Suite, select Office 365 Enterprise E5.
  • OfficeE5 Subscription Under Other Plans, select Power BI Pro.
  • Hover over the ellipsis (…) Select Buy Now for the required subscription.
  • Select Monthly or Year-round payment, depending on your billing settings.
  • How many users do you need? Enter the required number of licenses and select Check Out Now to complete the transaction.
  • Make sure the subscription you purchased is listed on the Subscriptions page.
  • To add licenses after the first purchase, select Power BI Pro on the Subscriptions page,  then select Add / Remove Licenses.

Power BI Free vs Power BI Pro advantages

Power BI Free:

Despite the free nature, you may be surprised at what Microsoft is adding to Power BI Desktop.

  • You can connect and import data from over 70 cloud-based and local sources
  • Same extensive PowerBI Pro visualizations and filters
  • Autodetect creates data relationships between tables and formats
  • Python Support
  • Save, upload, and publish reports on the web and with full Power BI services
  • 10GB storage limit per user

Power BI Pro:

On the other hand, for Power BI Pro compared to free:

  • There is an option to embed Power BI visuals in apps (PowerApps, SharePoint, Teams, etc.).
  • Native integration with other Microsoft solutions (Azure Data Services)
  • Share records, dashboards, and reports with other Power BI Pro users
  • Create app workspaces and peer-to-peer shares
  • To securely share reports, In addition, Pro users can share reports with other Pro users or reports in the Place Premium workspace.
  • Share with free licensed users.

Power BI Free vs Pro 

Feature Power BI Free Power BI Pro
Core features
Space Allocation 10 GB/user 10GB/user
Desktop and Mobile Access Yes Yes
Create and view dashboards & reports Yes Yes
Create R visuals No Yes
Analyse in Excel No Yes
Sharing and Collaboration
Publish reports, share and Collaborate No
(can be only published to web)
Package and publish content with apps No Yes
Access content from shared workspace No Yes
Governance and Administration
Data set refresh rate Up to 8 times a day Up to 8 times a day
Data Security and encryption Yes Yes
Row level security implementations Not Available Available


Power BI Free vs Power BI Pro limitations

Of course, Power BI Desktop has some feature limitations and is often an incentive for upgrades. 

  • Created reports cannot be shared with users other than Power BI Pro 
  • No app workspace 
  • No API embedding 
  • No email Subscription 
  • No peer sharing 
  • Power BI Desktop  
  • No Excel analysis support

Overall, Power BI Pro Secure sharing in the case of and Free has the latter problem. When you publish a report to the web, the report is published and anyone on the Internet may be able to search and find the data. In this case, Power BI Pro users have the advantage of being able to share reports directly with other Pro users, except, of course, when uploading documents to the premium workspace.

Power BI Free allows individual users to create customised dashboards and publish it on PowerBI Service for zero cost. However, if the dashboards created on Power BI needs to be shared with multiple stakeholders, requires PowerBI Pro license and also other users should belong to your orgnization only. So in a way – PowerBI is not free. To understand PowerBI licensing, please visit our blog “Is PowerBI really free?”.


In short, evaluate each layer of Power BI currently available to determine which one is best for you depending on the features and usability. You need to identify the exact number of users in your organization who need to create and view reports and examine your current database to make sure you are taking advantage of the power BI features and benefits.

Our recommendation:

  • If you are a student or a single business owner where you are having a limited business data to analyse and consume by yourself and not required to share with anyone, Power BI free will be a good option to explore.
  • If you are a heavy data analytics or business intelligence user or developer or where you are regularly involved in creating, sharing and consuming the reports with your other team members, Power BI Pro will be a good option to explore.

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