by Ariel Netz, Group Program Manager in the Power BI Desktop team

In June, we kicked off our summer development effort with our “We’re on for a great Designer Summer…   “ blog post. With summer coming to an end and the latest Power BI Desktop update that we announced this week, it seems like a good time to get back to the community with a recap and an update.

As with any complex and long-running project, we were faced with a handful of moments – some moments were expected and planned for, others were unexpected and required a quick response from us, and then there were some nice moments of surprises that made us smile.  

Expected – we knew getting to general availability on July 24th GA was not an end goal, but rather, a starting point. A starting point from which we could build and continue to enhance and refine each month. From that moment we moved ahead and created two more updates, the largest of which was released this week as part of the September monthly update. You can check the full list of improvements here, broken out month by month here

Unexpected – as optimistic as we all can be, things don’t always go according to plan. During this summer there were a number of features and bugs we dealt with ahead of our scheduled plans. In one case, we addressed an issue ahead of our monthly schedule with a special build and with changes in the service. Those items were reported directly by the community... so if you ever wondered whether anyone is actually reading the frowns being sent in the product, then wonder no longer! The feedback is all received and read by members of the core development team, and they do make a difference. 

Surprised – it’s always fascinating to watch when a feature you planned and worked on for many months “hits the streets." We believed the GA release would be big, but the community reaction and response overwhelmed us. It was truly fun seeing the community reaction to the release and its sequenced updates. Yes, not all unexpected feedback is negative. J 

Our community is playing an important role in defining the product. Seeing members of the community using the product for real world solutions, at times in ways we never thought of or expected, is really rewarding.

But the beyond that, we are especially thankful for all of you in the Community members who take the time to blog and answer questions over on the Community site. Not only are you using the product, but you’re using your free time to help others become better and more successful with Power BI –THANK YOU

So you may be wondering: what’s next?

While we strive to have an agile development process, so we can respond to your feedback quickly, we also have a “grand plan” that we follow. Those includes some of the larger improvements the community been asking for and are currently under development:

  • Support for MOLAP cubes
  • Direct Query – The ability to work directly against data sources such as Spark and HDInsight without loading the data to the Desktop
  • Improved connectivity to on-premises data sources
  • Better support for Time Intelligence

The obvious questions then is when will those features be released? as soon as we can and we will be working on offering you preview of those features before they be released.

There are many more coming in addition to those, but this is where we’d rather hear directly from you than influence your input and suggestions :)

Last quarter we ran a community survey to measure more scientifically how we are doing, and find out which features the community thinks we’re missing. That worked extremely well for us, sparked a lot of good conversations within our team, and helped us adjust some of our plans. It was so successful, and had such a great impact, that we intend to run the same survey each quarter going forward. 

User feedback is a core part of our process in developing Power BI.  Our research team would like to get your opinions about some of the new features we’ve recently added in Power BI Desktop, and also get your thoughts about what we can do to make Desktop even better in the future. In addition to being an opportunity to share your feedback and help us shape the product, it’s also a chance to enter to win some prizes if you complete the survey by October 2nd at 12PM (PST).

Thanks for your continued input and interest in Power BI. We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the survey!

Note about survey prizes:

We will randomly select three survey respondents to each win a $50 Amazon gift card. Winners will be notified by October 5, 2015, and a list of winners may be requested by emailing ucsurvey@microsoft.com after this date. For our sweepstakes rules, please refer to http://www.microsoft.com/usability/uxcsweeps.htm. To be eligible for our sweepstakes, you must complete the survey. You must also be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid Social Security Number. Only one entry into the sweepstakes will be eligible per person. In accordance with IRS regulations we are required to collect 1099 information (your address and social security number) if the suggested retail value of gratuity items that you select exceeds $599 in a given calendar year. We will not ask you to provide any tax information in this survey, but will contact you before shipping your gratuity item, if necessary. Questions regarding gratuity issues may be directed to ucsurvey@microsoft.com.