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Power BI Licensing Revisited!

Headshot of article author Adam Saxton

NOTE: This information good as of 8/19/2015 and is subject to change!

Questions around Licensing continues to be a top question I get asked about.  Whether it is about licensing directly, or about some feature issue and it boils down to licensing.  With the GA of the new service, I thought I needed to revisit licensing within Power BI.

Currently we have three licenses available for Power BI.

Power BI (Free)Power BI ProPower BI for Office 365

Of these, Power BI Pro and Power BI for Office 365 are paid licenses with trial offers.  Also, the Power BI for Office 365 License will go away at some point.  The following page breaks down the differences between the Power BI (Free) and Power BI Pro offers.

Power BI Pricing

The biggest differences come from Data Refresh capabilities and collaboration items.

Power BI (Free)

One way you can tell if you are a free user is to go to the Cog icon in the upper right and look at your Personal Storage.  1GB is for a free user.


Also, if you click on Manage Personal Storage, or Create/View Content Pack, it will show you what you have.  In this case, we are a Free User.


Using Pro Features as a Free User

Speaking of Content Packs, Organization Content Packs are a Pro feature.  But, as a free user, you still have the UI to create one.  However, when you try to publish, you will receive a message saying this is a Pro feature and it will give you the option to use a 60 day trial of Pro.


Dashboards with Pro Content

If a dashboard is shared with you, that contains any Pro Content, they will get a message asking if they want to sign up for the 60 Day trial.  Here is what the message looks like when a dashboard was shared that made use of an Analysis Services Connector.  You would see this in all of the different Power BI Clients (web site or Mobile apps).


If you click cancel, you will not be able to see the visualizations on the dashboard.


A look at the license within Office 365

From a back end perspective, if you had access to the Office 365 Admin Portal, we would see that this user only has the Power BI (Free) license assigned.


Power BI Pro Trial (60 Day Trial – Individual User)

If you did sign up for the 60 Day trial, you will show up as Pro Trial User.


Because we are labeled as a Pro User, we also have a storage limit of 10GB now.


This user can make use of all of the Pro features for this 60 day period.

Free Trial for Power BI Pro

A look at the license within Office 365

From a back end perspective, if you had access to the Office 365 Admin Portal, we would see that this user only has the Power BI (Free) license assigned.  This is because the Trial here is from the Individual User perspective.  I’ll touch on the Power BI Pro Trial from a subscription perspective, which is different than this individual user trial.


Power BI Pro

From a feature and usage perspective, it is the same as the Power BI Pro Trial listed above.  The user type will show differently.  In this case, it just shows Pro User.


Sharing Dashbaords that contain Pro Content

If you try to share a dashboard with users that contains Pro content, you will see a message indicating that.


This dashboard contains Power BI Pro content. Only users that have Power BI Pro will have access to it.

A look at the license within Office 365

In this case, this user has a license for both Power BI Pro and Power BI for Office 365.  I’ll touch on the Power BI for Office 365 next, but for now, we can just pay attention to the Power BI Pro License.


This license comes from having an actual Office 365 Subscription for Power BI Pro or a Trial of that subscription.  This is different from the 60 Day Trial which is for an individual user basis and not tied to an Office 365 Subscription. This is one of those areas that can be hard to wrap your head around.

I try to relate it between an Individual User vs. an Organization.  Individual Users only effect themselves.  The Organization side of it can effect the entire tenant and the users within it.  From a feature perspective, they are treated the same, but how they are managed are different.  The individual user, unless they are an Admin, will not have access to the Office 365 Admin Center.  And, there may not even be a declared Admin.

Power BI for Office 365

This is the old service.  This was an actual Office 365 Subscription.  Having this license treats you as a Pro user for the new service as it is a paid account (or Trial of the paid subscription). 

This also allows you to certain items that were part of the old service that the Power BI Pro license will not let you into.  This includes the Power BI Admin Center and the Power BI Sites that is coupled with SharePoint Online. 

This license/subscription, along with the features specific to it, will go away at some point and we will just have Power BI (Free) and Power BI Pro.

Office 365 Subscriptions

From a subscription perspective, you will see Power BI within the Office 365 Admin Center if you have either paid for the Subscription or signed up for the trial of the subscription within Office 365.

This is different from the 60 day Pro Trial User that we saw above.  This is from the organization side of the house and not from the individual user perspective.


We saw before that the Pro Trial user was only reflected by a Power BI (Free) license within Office 365.  For my Power BI Pro user, where it didn’t indicate a Trial within the Power BI Site, it was actually using the Power BI Pro Trial from an Office 365 Subscription perspective.  The Organization side of things. 


Adam W. Saxton | Microsoft Business Intelligence Support – Escalation Services@GuyInACube | YouTube |\guyinacube