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Power BI Service February Update

Headshot of article author Amanda Cofsky

Today we are happy to announce that we are releasing a preview of the top most voted on suggestion on our UserVoice site: Sharing a dashboard externally. We are also releasing a lot of other highly asked for features across the service this week. We hope you enjoy this update, and if you have any new feature requests, please let us know on our UserVoice site.

Here’s a summary of all the new features we released over the past few weeks:


Admin Portal

Quick Insights




Share with users outside your organization

Let’s jump right into the feature you have all been waiting for, sharing your dashboard with users outside your organization. Go to any dashboard that you own and click share, and enter the email address of the user who you want to share the dashboard with. Power BI will highlight if there are email addresses that are outside your organization. If you want to add a message along with the share email, add it in the text box below, and click Share. That’s it!

As an example, let’s say that you would like to share a dashboard with your client,

  Sharing experience

After you click Share, Vicki will get an email about the shared dashboard. The email has a link to the dashboard being shared. Vicki will have to sign in to Power BI to see the dashboard. If she doesn't have a Power BI account, she can create an account after clicking the link.

Sharing email

Once she has signed in, she will see the shared dashboard in its own browser window without the left navigation pane. Vicki can't edit any content in this dashboard or report. She can interact with the charts in the report (cross-highlight) and change any filters/slicers available on the reports that are connected to this dashboard.

Also, Vicki won't see this external dashboard in her usual Power BI portal. She will have to bookmark the link to access this dashboard in the future.

External dashboard experience

Note that only your intended recipient can see the shared dashboard. In the example above, only can see the dashboard. No other user will be able to see that dashboard, even if they have the link. Vicki has to use that exact email address to access that dashboard – if she signs up with any other email address, she won't have access to the dashboard.

You can also see all the external users who have access to this dashboard and revoke their permission. To do that, select the share button and navigate to the Shared with tab. All the external users who have access to this dashboard are marked as “Guest”.

Note that at this time, external sharing doesn't work with role- and dynamic row-level security settings on Analysis Services Tabular models on-premises. External users can't see any data if role- or row-level security is implemented on these models.

Shared with UI

Licensing Requirements for External Sharing

Sharing content external to your organization will have the same licensing requirements as sharing content within your organization.

If your dashboard was created purely with free features, your recipients will just need the free tier of Power BI to view the content. If you used pro features like Groups or on-premises connectivity, your recipients will need a Power BI Pro license to view the content. 

Request access to a dashboard

Previously, if you were sent a dashboard URL and you didn't have access to it, you had to figure out who the dashboard owner was on your own and ask them to share the dashboard with you. This could be quite difficult depending on the size of your team or organization. Now when you reach a dashboard you don’t have permission to, you can simply request permission through email by clicking on “Request Access” from the dashboard.

When you access a dashboard you don’t have permission to view, you will get a message asking if you want to request permission.

Request Permission 1

When you select Request access, you can optionally be able to enter your reason for needing access and then select Send request to send the email. Request access dialog

You will get a message letting you know your request was successfully sent.

Request access confirmation

The owner will get an email letting them know you need access and can grant you access directly from the email. Once they grant you access, the dashboard will show up in your workspace.

Request permission email

Admin Portal

We know that we are now onboarding larger customers who need to manage larger deployments. We’ve also heard many asks for tenant management of your Power BI users. With that in mind, we are releasing the first set of admin experiences today with more to come.

Easy user management with a link to the O365 Admin Center

For this first release, we have added an admin portal accessible to all members of the Global Admin group. If you’re not an admin, you will not see this link. Click the gear on the top right to see the Admin Portal option.

settings drop down

The Admin Portal has two administrative areas to start. We will be adding more admin capabilities very soon. The first area, Manage Users, allows you to quickly manage users, admins, and groups from the Office 365 Admin Center.

Manage users

When you click Go to O365 Admin Center you go directly to the O365 Admin Center page to manage the users of your tenant.

O365 Admin Center

Disable publish to web

The second area of the Admin Portal is the Tenant settings. We’ve added this area because we know you need more control over what features can be made available to your organization. This is just the first set of controls that we plan to release, and you can expect more granular controls over time. With this release, we currently have three settings you can control.

With the first setting, you can control whether users can use the publish to the web feature.  Last week we saw the excitement over our new Publish to Web feature, but we also heard the concern about potential security risk for your data. If this feature is not right for your organization, you can now switch it off in your tenant.

When you disable this option, existing publish to web embed codes will stop working, and users will not be able to create any new embed codes. However, users who created embed codes using Publish to web are still able to manage the embed codes they previously created.

Publish to web switch

When you disable publishing to web, you will get a notification that it was successful.

Publish to web disabled confirmation

Once you disable publishing to web, previously created embed codes will stop working, and the feature is removed from the report file menu. When you disable Publish to web, no new data will be cached. Because the content is cached, it can take up to an hour for the existing content to be fully removed. After the cache expires, users will see the following when they try to view the Publish to web report.

Publish to web unavailable message

When you re-enable Publish to web for the tenant, you will get a notification that it was successful and any existing embeds will start to work again.

Prevent users from publishing content packs to the entire organization

The second setting controls whether users of your tenant can publish content packs to the entire organization.

Organization wide content pack switch

By default, when users create organizational content packs, they can either publish to specific groups or to the entire organization.

Publish to entire organization enabled

When you disable that ability, you will see a notification letting you know it was successful. For this and all other tenant settings, it can take up to 10 minutes for the setting to take effect.

Publish content pack to organization disabled notification

After the setting has been disabled, when a user goes to create a content pack, the option to publish to the entire organization is disabled. Previously published content packs will still continue to work as before.

Publish to organization disabled

You can always turn the option back on again if you choose. If you do, you will get a notification that it was successful.

Publish content pack to organization enabled notification

Disable sharing content to external users

The last setting controls whether users can share dashboards externally. As we described above, you can now share dashboards with users outside your tenant.

External sharing switch

When you disable sharing, you will get a notification that the action was successful.

External sharing disabled notification

After you disable external sharing, users will get an error when they enter email addresses for an external tenant. Previously shared dashboards will stop working.

External sharing is disabled

You can always turn it on again. If you do, previously shared dashboards will start working again.

External sharing enabled notification

Quick Insights

Quick Insights when you publish Power BI Desktop files

We previously released the Quick Insights feature to help you get answers more quickly and easily by helping you find insights hidden in your data. Quick Insights allows you to run a variety of analytical algorithms on your data to search for potential insights with the click of a mouse. Our growing list of algorithms includes algorithms to discover and visualize correlations, outliers, trends, seasonality, change points in trends, and major factors within your data, automatically, within seconds.

To make it even easier to reach these insights, we are adding the ability to trigger Quick Insights on publish of your Power BI Desktop to the Power BI service.

You can publish Power BI Desktop files from the File menu.

Power BI Desktop file menu - publish
After the file successfully publishes, you will see the Get quick insights link in the dialog.

Power BI Desktop publish quick insights link

When you click that link, you go directly to the Quick Insights page, where you can see the loading page for Quick Insights.

Quick insights searching for insights

When we finish searching for insights they will load on this page. That’s all it takes!

Quick insights


Web content widget

The web content widget allows you to embed rich media content in your dashboard.  You can take embed code from other websites and use it to create tiles on your dashboard.

To start, select Add Widget on the top right of the dashboard.
Add widget button

From there you see a list of widget tile options, including Web content.
Add widget dialog
When this is selected, you will see a blank tile created and the Tile details pane is opened. You fill in the web content in the section titled Embed code and then select Apply.
Web content tile details

In this case we used the embed code from a Tweet.
Web content tile with a tweet


Video widget

In addition to adding web content-based tiles to your dashboard, you can now add tiles with YouTube videos in them as well.

Using the same Add widget button as above, select Video to create a blank video tile with the Tile details pane open. You can paste a video YouTube URL in the YouTube URL box.
Video tile details

When you select Apply, you will see the video tile on your dashboard.

Video tile with YouTube video

Both of these new widgets are great ways for you to add your personal or team content onto a dashboard, and just like any other tile, you can come back to edit them or add a custom link to them. You can learn more about widgets in our help docs.

Zoom with touch

To make it even easier to see the details of your tiles, you can now zoom easily with touch. Use your fingers to zoom the browser in and out, the same way using the browser settings does. This feature also works on reports.


Connect to files on your team SharePoint site through a URL

We previously released a way to upload your files stored on your SharePoint team sites to Power BI, but we want to make it even easier for you to use these files. With that in mind, today we released an update to the SharePoint Team Site connection experience that allows you to go directly to your team site using its URL.

To connect to your team’s SharePoint site, select SharePoint –Team Sites under Get Data > Files.

 File get data screen
Here you can paste in the URL for the site you want to access and click Connect. If you leave the textbox blank, you go to the root level of your company’s SharePoint site.

SharePoint team site URL dialog
From here, just find your file and connect!
 SharePoint get data navigation

That’s all for this month. We hope that you enjoy this new update and continue sending us valuable feedback about our product. Please don’t forget to vote for other features that you would like to see in Power BI service in the future.