Skip to main content

Introducing Microsoft Fabric and Copilot in Microsoft Power BI

Headshot of article author Kim Manis

Update: Please note that free preview usage of Fabric workloads (other than Power BI) has been extended from August 1 to October 1, 2023.

Screenshot of a Power BI report being created by the Copilot in Power BI generative AI experience with a ribbon graphic in the background.

Businesses have been collecting and storing massive amounts of data from apps, services, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and other sources for decades. And every year, the volume of data collected grows at staggering rates.

But harnessing value from this data has proved challenging for most. Siloed data gets out of sync. Inconsistent data could lead to high integration costs. Poor data quality sabotages new AI models. Out-of-date reports cause misinterpreted insights. All of this stifles the ability to unlock the full value of data, hampering innovation and AI experiences.

Today, we are excited to unveil Microsoft Fabric and Copilot in Microsoft Power BI. Fabric, now in preview, is an end-to-end, human-centered analytics product that brings together all an organization’s data and analytics in one place. It brings together the best of Microsoft Power BI, Azure Synapse, and Azure Data Factory into one unified software as a service (SaaS) platform. Data engineers, data warehousing professionals, data scientists, data analysts, and business users can seamlessly collaborate within Fabric to foster a well-functioning data culture across the organization.

Decorative image highlighting information about the two-day live event to see Microsoft Fabric in action.

Copilot in Power BI, now in private preview, combines advanced generative AI with your data to help everyone uncover and share insights faster. Simply describe the insights you need or ask a question about your data, and Copilot will analyze and pull the right data into a stunning report—turning data into actionable insights instantly.

What’s included in Microsoft Fabric?

See Arun Ulagaratchagan’s blog post to read the full Microsoft Fabric Preview announcement.

Fabric offers six experiences: a Data Factory-powered data integration experience, Synapse-powered data engineering, data warehouse, data science, and real-time analytics experiences and business intelligence (BI) with Power BI—all hosted on a lake-centric SaaS solution. We are also developing an experience called Data Activator that will help customers respond to changes in their data instantly by setting up a system of detection that automatically alerts the team with the right context to take action.

Read more about each of these new experiences by reading the following announcement blogs:

  • Data Factory announcement blog—With Data Factory in Fabric, organizations can unify their hybrid and multicloud data estates and unlock value with a data integration experience that combines the ease of use of Microsoft Power Query with the scale and power of Data Factory. Currently in preview.
  • Synapse Data Engineering announcement blog—The next generation of Synapse data engineering in Fabric empowers data engineers with a world-class Spark platform with great authoring experiences that can help transform data at scale and democratize data through the lakehouse while collaborating effectively. Currently in preview.
  • Synapse Data Warehouse announcement blog—Synapse Data Warehouse provides industry-leading SQL performance and scale. For the first time, data engineering, data warehousing professionals, and BI analysts can operate on a unified open format allowing a single copy of truth for all personas. Currently in preview.
  • Synapse Data Science announcement blog—Data scientists can work side by side with their data engineering and BI counterparts to build rich AI models at speed and scale. Currently in preview.
  • Synapse Real-Time Analytics announcement blog—Organizations can use Synapse Real-Time Analytics to explore data and perform real-time analysis on large volumes of data streaming from applications, websites, IoT devices, and more with high performance and low latency. Currently in preview.
  • Data Activator announcement blog—Data Activator in Fabric enables users to create a system of detection that monitors analytics to drive timely human and automated actions across an organization. Currently in private preview.
  • OneLake announcement blog—OneLake is the “OneDrive for data.” It is a complete, rich, enterprise-wide data lake provided as a SaaS service. OneLake is core to Fabric’s lake-centric approach. Currently in preview.

A decorative image that states Introducing Microsoft Fabric An end-to-end, unified analytics platform bringing together all the data and analytics tools that organizations need. Sign up for the Microsoft Fabric free trial today

What does Microsoft Fabric mean for Power BI users?

Power BI customers will continue to enjoy all the functionalities that they have available today. With the launch of Fabric, Power BI Premium customers can simply turn on the Fabric tenant setting in the admin portal. With Fabric’s unified capacity model, Power BI Premium capacity can be utilized by any of the new workloads. Read this documentation for more information on Fabric’s single capacity model. Power BI Pro customers can access this functionality through capacity trials.

Beyond providing access to the six other powerful experiences in Fabric, we are also announcing several Power BI Premium only features designed to transform how you analyze and visualize your data.

Next generation of AI with Copilot in Power BI

Introducing Copilot in Power BI! With Copilot in Power BI, we are infusing the power of large language models into Power BI at every layer to help users get more done and create more value from their data. Using Copilot, you can simply describe the visuals and insights you’re looking for, and Copilot will do the rest. Users can create and tailor reports in seconds, generate and edit DAX calculations, create narrative summaries, and ask questions about their data, all in conversational language. With the ability to easily tailor the tone, scope, and style of narratives and add them seamlessly within reports, Power BI can also deliver data insights even more impactfully through easy-to-understand text summaries.

We’ve already released the quick measure suggestions for DAX capability that helps analysts quickly create the code they need. The rest of the Copilot in Power BI experiences are now in private preview. Stay tuned to the Power BI blog for the latest updates and public release date for Copilot in Power BI.

Unified data foundation with OneLake and Direct Lake mode

Power BI is standardizing on open data formats by adopting Delta Lake and Parquet as its native storage format to help you avoid vendor lock-in and reduce data duplication and management. Direct Lake mode unlocks incredible performance directly against OneLake, with no data movement. Combining this with the ability for the other analytical engines to read and write data directly in the lake, Fabric will reshape how business users consume big data. Power BI datasets in Direct Lake mode enjoy query performance on a par with import mode, with the real-time nature of DirectQuery. And the data never leaves the lake, so there is no need to manage refreshes.

We are thrilled to announce the preview of Direct Lake mode for Power BI datasets on Lakehouses. We plan to launch the preview for Direct Lake mode datasets on Data Warehouses soon. For now, Direct Lake mode datasets for Warehouse is in private preview, but it does take effect if you use the SQL Endpoint for Lakehouse.

To try Direct Lake from your Lakehouse or Warehouse in Fabric, click on New Power BI Dataset, select the tables you want to include, and click Confirm. Open the data model to create measures and relationships as you would for any other Power BI dataset. Lastly, click new report and create beautiful Power BI reports. Note the integrated experience from data in the lake through to report creation without leaving the browser or performing a refresh.

Screenshot of the Direct Lake mode for Power BI datasets on Lakehouses experience. In this screenshot, they are selecting the tables to be included in the new Power BI dataset.

Enterprise-grade collaboration with Git integration for Power BI datasets and reports

We are also enabling more seamless collaboration with your development team on Power BI content with Git integration. You can now easily connect your workspace to Azure DevOps repositories to track changes, revert to previous versions, and merge updates from multiple team members into a single source of truth that will be synced into the workspace with a single click.

Screenshot of the Git integration, showing how to connect a workspace to Azure DevOps repositories to track changes, revert to previous versions, and merge updates.

As a developer, you can use this integration to:

  • Use Power BI Desktop to author report and dataset metadata files in source-control friendly formats.
  • Save as a Power BI project (.PBIP) to a folder instead of to a .PBIX file.
  • Enable multiple developer collaboration, source control integration to track version history, compare different revisions (diff), and revert to previous versions.
  • Use continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to enforce quality gates prior to reaching production environments.
  • Enable code reviews, automated testing, and automated build to validate the integrity of a deployment.

Users can leverage Git integration and deployment pipelines for an end-to-end application lifecycle management of their work by developing through Git integration and deploying their Power BI content across dev, test, and production workspaces. Developers can use the user interface (UI) experience or automate the process through other tools, such as Azure Pipelines.

End-to-end governance across Fabric

Building analytics solutions is complicated. Data teams must manage everything from user roles to data ingestion, security, compliance, collaboration, workspaces, and more. With Fabric, Power BI, Synapse, and Data Factory are unified on a single unified SaaS platform. This allows data teams to collaborate in a single workspace, on the same copy of data, with centralized administration, governance, and compliance tools. These capabilities include data lineage and impact analysis, data protection with sensitivity labels, data endorsement, admin monitoring, and more. And these unified experiences make it easy to jump between tools and collaborate with others on the team. Moreover, with the large amount of data and analytical projects being built within an organization, efficient discovery and management is key. The OneLake Data Hub empowers everyone in the organization to centrally discover and explore data available to them and relevant to their business domain, take further action, or build upon what others have started.

Visit this blog post to learn more about administration and governance of Fabric.

Universal compute capacities simplify purchasing and managing analytics projects

Purchasing and managing resources is massively simplified with Fabric. Customers can purchase a single pool of compute that powers all Fabric experiences. With this all-inclusive approach, customers can create solutions that leverage all workloads freely without any friction in their experience or commerce. The universal compute capacities significantly reduce costs, as any unused compute capacity in one workload can be utilized by any of the workloads. For Power BI Premium customers, existing Power BI Premium P SKUs will automatically support all the new Fabric experiences. Starting June 1, new Fabric SKUs will be available for purchase in the Azure portal that give you access to all these experiences.

How do I get started with Microsoft Fabric?

Enabling Fabric in your Power BI tenant

Power BI customers can get access to Fabric today by turning on the Fabric tenant setting in the Power BI admin portal. To give Power BI administrators time to prepare, we have turned off the switch by default. You can choose to opt in or out of Fabric through the admin portal. You can also choose to enable Fabric for specific users or security groups within your tenant. If no action is taken by the administrator, Fabric will be turned on by default for all Power BI tenants starting on July 1.

Screenshot of the Power BI Admin Portal, in the Tenant settings tab with the option to turn on or off the Microsoft Fabric Preview experience.

Screenshot of the Power BI Admin Portal, in the Tenant settings tab with the option to turn on or off the Microsoft Fabric Preview experience for specific groups within an organization.

Additionally, if you would like to try Fabric in one or more capacities before enabling it for the entire tenant, it can be enabled for specific capacities in the capacity settings tab within the admin portal. Like the tenant setting, this capacity setting can also be limited to specific users or security groups.

Screenshot of the Power BI Admin Portal, in the Capacity settings tab with the option to turn on or off the Microsoft Fabric Preview experience for specific capacities within a tenant.

Upgrading existing Power BI Premium capacities

If your administrator has turned on Fabric at the tenant level, all Premium capacities will automatically be upgraded to support Fabric. In addition, capacity administrators can turn on Fabric at the capacity level (as described in the previous section), allowing anyone with access to this capacity to use the new Fabric experiences. To help you prepare for how this will impact your usage of Power BI Premium, new Fabric experiences will not draw down usage from your capacity before October 1, 2023. You can, however, monitor how Fabric impacts your capacity usage through the Capacity Metrics app.

Screenshot of the Capacity Metrics app in Power BI monitoring how Fabric could impact capacity usage

Universal Fabric capacity is free to try for 60 days

If you do not yet have Power BI Premium, you can get access to a free Fabric trial (learn more about the Fabric trial). If trials are enabled by your tenant administrator, you will automatically be granted a Fabric trial capacity when you (1) create an item that requires a capacity or (2) click on Start trial from your account manager in the upper right-hand side of the portal.

This capacity can be used with one or more workspaces, allowing you to create data warehouses, lakehouses, notebooks, and more. After 60 days, you can purchase Fabric Capacities in the Azure portal (available after June 1).

And as a tenant admin, you will have visibility into all active trial capacities provisioned for users within the tenant in the Power BI admin portal.

Fabric learning resources

To help you get started with Fabric, there are several resources we recommend:

  • Microsoft Fabric learning paths: Experience a high-level tour of Fabric and how to get started.
  • Microsoft Fabric tutorials: Get detailed tutorials with a step-by-step guide on how to create an end-to-end solution in Fabric. These tutorials focus on a few different common patterns including a lakehouse architecture, data warehouse architecture, real-time analytics, and data science projects.
  • Microsoft Fabric documentation: Read Fabric docs to see detailed documentation for all aspects of Fabric.

Join the conversation

Want to learn more about Fabric from the people who created it? Join us on May 24 at 9 AM Pacific Time for a two-day live event to see Fabric in action. These sessions will be available on-demand after May 25. Join the live event or see the full list of sessions in this blog post.

Join us in the Microsoft Fabric community to post your questions, share your feedback, and learn from others.

Learn more about other Microsoft Power Platform announcements at Microsoft Build 2023.