Power BI – Understanding the Basic Concepts

Published July 4 2017 by Donna Coxon
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I’ve been asked a few times by our CRM customers to explain all the different components of Power BI. So we put together a comprehensive list of Power BI terminology. 

Power BI Definitions:

Power BI – This is the collective name for the whole product (cloud-based analytics service) which is composed of the different elements below. It is also the name used for the web service i.e. the powerbi.com website that contains dashboards and reports.

Power BI Desktop – This is the desktop application, most commonly used by your data analyst where visualisations and reports are actually created. In the desktop application, you can connect to multiple data sources, pull in tables of data and create table joins and relationships to create visualisations and build out your report. These multi page reports are then published to the Power BI Service (www.powerbi.com) and consumed on the website or on one of the mobile apps.

Power BI Mobile – This is the mobile app that allow us to see the Power BI reports that have been published to us in the Power BI service. The mobile version of powerbi.com. Apps are available for Windows, IOS and Android.

Power BI Premium – This is a higher capacity version of Power BI where your business is allocated some dedicated capacity giving you enhanced performance and larger data volumes without requiring you to purchase per-user licenses.

Power BI Report Server – this is the on-premise version of Power BI. It is included in Power BI Premium.

Power BI Embedded - Power BI Embedded is an Azure service that enables people to surface Power BI data within their own applications.


Power BI Licensing

There are effectively three types of Power BI licenses:


  •  Connect to many data sources
  •  Clean and prepare data using visual tools
  •  Analyse and build reports with custom visualizations
  •  Publish to the Power BI service
  •  Embed in public websites


  •  Build dashboards that deliver a 360-degree, real-time view of the business
  •  Keep data up-to-date automatically, including on-premises sources
  •  Collaborate on shared data
  •  Audit and govern how data is accessed and used
  •  Package content and distribute to users with apps


  •  Gain dedicated capacity you allocate, scale, and control
  •  Distribute and embed content without purchasing per-user licenses
  •  Publish reports on-premises with Power BI Report Server
  •  Unlock more capacity and higher limits for your Pro users


The following table outlines the key differences between the license types:

Power BI comparison chart of desktop vs service

Learn more about Power BI, download a copy of our ebook: Best Practices to Improve Power BI Speed.

Donna has an extensive track record as a functional software consultant, working with various CRM solutions since 1999. Having worked as a Technical Consultant, Business Analyst, Training Consultant, Project Manager and Professional Services Manager, Donna has a vast experience of software implementations across a wide range of industry sectors. Donna is a Solution Architect who enjoys showcasing how Dynamics 365 can help organizations grow.

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