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Update on the New Workspace Experiences Preview Including GA Timeline

We launched the public preview of new workspace experiences in August 2018 to enable Power BI workspace admins to use security groups to manage access to workspaces, enable BI teams to create workspaces without needing to create an Office 365 Group, and to provide granular workspace roles to make giving access to workspaces easier.

At the beginning of April 2019, we will reach General Availability (GA) of the new workspace experiences. This blog post will help you prepare and ensure you’re ready for GA and are aware of our plans for additional capability that will become available after GA.

 

Usage metrics for new workspaces is rolling out this week

We’re happy to announce that starting this week we are rolling out support for usage metrics for the new workspace experiences. This capability is much requested by customers and works the same as it did for classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. It may take until late this week or next week to reach all commercial cloud customers.

You will see the usage metrics button in the Power BI content list and in the actions bar when viewing a report or dashboard. This will open a report that you can use to track usage metrics.

Screenshot of usage metrics button in actions list in the workspace content list

 

New workspace experiences GA timeline and plans

When we launch the new workspace experiences GA in April 2019, we will introduce several core capabilities designed to make securing and managing workspace easier. These are:

  • New Workspaces experiences will be the default workspace type
  • A new workspace contact list feature
  • A new workspace OneDrive feature
  • Updated licensing enforcement

When you press the create workspace button in Power BI, the default workspace type will be the new workspace experience. You will still be able to create an Office 365 Group based workspace using the revert to classic feature available at the top of the create workspace pane. Below, you can see what the experience will look like.

Screenshot showing the default workspace creation experience and the revert to classic option

Why is this important? When you use the new workspace experience, you can use security groups, distribution lists, and even multiple Office 365 Groups to give users access to your workspace content. This flexibility allows you to manage access to workspaces using existing processes or automation. Since we support security groups, you can nest those groups to ensure the right users have access.

The new contact list feature available in workspace settings or under advanced when creating workspaces allows you to specify which users receive notification about issues occurring in the workspace. By default, any user or group specified as a workspace admin is notified, but you can customize the list.  Just be aware that users or groups listed in the contact list will be shown in UI experiences in the future to help users get help related to the workspace. This feature is especially useful if you want to track through a group alias issues occurring in various workspaces so you can work with the workspace Admins to address users’ needs in a timely manner.

Screenshot showing the contact list and workspace onedrive options

The Workspace OneDrive feature allows you to configure an Office 365 Group whose OneDrive file storage will be available to workspace users. The location will appear under Files in the “…” menu on the workspace.  Note that Power BI does not synchronize permissions of users / groups who are configured to have workspace access with the Office 365 Group membership. The best practice will be to ensure you manage workspace access through the same Office 365 Group whose OneDrive you configure in this setting.

Screenshot showing files menu option for a workspace

It will also appear in the Get Data > Files experience. Below you can see the Office 365 Group “Lukasz-Public-Group” is shown. The OneDrive – Business entry is the current user’s OneDrive for Business.

Screenshot showing the files options in Get Data. It shows the workspace OneDrive

Enforcing existing licensing rules in additional places

As part of getting ready to release the GA of the new workspace experience, we will start enforcing existing licensing rules that require a Power BI Pro license for users collaborating in workspaces or sharing content to others in the Power BI service. This was already enforced in the Service UI and for workspaces in the ‘shared capacity’. Now our Import REST API used by Power BI Desktop and 3rd parties will enforce the license requirements for new workspace experience workspaces in a Premium capacity. We are also updating the error message shown in Power BI Desktop as shown below, to clearly indicate that licensing was the reason the user was not able to publish. Previously, this error was more generic indicating the user has no access to publish to the workspace.

Screenshot of Power BI Desktop publish error dialog indicating the user does not have the right license to upload to the selected workspace.

At this time, we are not changing the licensing enforcement for classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. However, this will change after we give Power BI admins enough time and notice of the change that could impact their users. Power BI admins can prepare for these changes by reviewing the Audit logs to see which users are publishing to a workspace and do not have a Pro license assigned, and then to assign them a Pro license, or these users’ access from the Premium workspace.

How to get ready for GA

As a Power BI Admin, there are two features within the Power BI Admin portal you should familiarize your self with.

The Tenant setting Create workspaces (new workspace experience preview) setting controls who in your tenant can create workspaces. By default, it inherits the value from the Office 365 Portal for who can create Office 365 Groups. Since the new workspace experience is not tied to Office 365 Groups you should set a value in the Power BI admin portal. Once you do, the users you choose can create new workspace experience workspaces in Power BI even if they cannot create classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups.

Screenshot of Power BI admin portal showing the setting that allows users to create workspaces.

The second Power BI admin capability to start using is the Workspaces list available in the Power BI Admin portal. Since the new workspace experience workspaces are not based on Office 365 groups, you’ll need to use this new UI to list, update, and manage these workspaces. There are also corresponding PowerShell Commandlets. Most importantly, sometimes a workspace can become orphaned – for example, the last workspace admin can leave your organization. This UI allows the Power BI admin to assign a new workspace Admin, or add/remove users from the workspace. To manage classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups, you’ll continue to use the Office 365 Portal.

Screenshot of Power BI admin portal showing the list of workspaces that Power BI admins can use to manage workspaces.

When you click the “…” menu next to a workspace, you will see the options to modify the workspace, including to set Access and Recover the workspace.

Screenshot showing the actions available in the Power BI admin portal workspaces list.

What to expect after GA

While with GA new workspaces will be fully supported for all production uses, some capabilities will become available after GA.

Viewer role will be available after GA

The forthcoming Viewer role for the new workspace experience, replaces the read-only workspace capability supported by classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. This will allow users to browse and view content in a workspace, but not to edit it. One advantage is users with Viewer role are subject to Row-Level-Security (RLS) when viewing reports and dashboards. If you need this capability, you can continue to use classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups or publish a Power BI app to the users who need a read-only experience. It is too early to comment on a timeline for when this feature will be available.

Workspace upgrade will be available after GA

Today, most workspaces are classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. We will enable workspace admins and tenant admins to upgrade these workspaces to the new workspace experience after GA. This capability will come in stages, and you’ll be notified in the UI when the upgrade becomes available for your workspace. It is too early to comment on a timeline for when this feature will be available.

As we have said previously, Content Packs will not be upgrade or preserved after workspace upgrade. Now is the time to move away from content packs and start to use Power BI apps. Soon, we will release capabilities that allow users to personalize app by saving a copy of a report to their My workspace, and to discover and use datasets across workspaces. These capabilities will effectively replace content packs.

After we have shipped support for the upgrade of all workspaces, we will initiate a process of required upgrade.  We will communicate extensively before we initiate the required upgrade process.

FAQ:

Will I still be able to create an Office 365 Group based workspace at GA?

Yes. At GA, when you create a workspace in Power BI the default is a new workspace experience workspace. However, you can opt-out by pressing revert to classic at the top of the Create Workspace pane. The ability to create Office 365 group-based workspaces is on the deprecation path and will be removed from Power BI after the required upgrade milestone completes.

Can I still use an Office 365 Group to secure a workspace in Power BI?

Yes. You can assign a workspace role to any user group available in Azure AD. This includes Office 365 Groups, security groups, email enabled security groups, and distribution lists. This same flexibility is available for item sharing and for app access.