What Is Power BI: Features, Pricing, Alternatives

Published: September 27, 2022
Last Updated: April 26, 2024
Chief Strategy Officer at Alpha Serve
Nowadays, data is the driving force behind every business, and every online platform generates tons of data, such as customer behavior, product values, and market status; however, those unlimited amounts of raw data need precise processing and analysis to make sense and transform into useful information and knowledge. Luckily, artificial and business intelligence solutions exist for that purpose.

Business intelligence facilitates data analysis, insights, and visualizations through a simplified dashboard. One of the popular platforms is Microsoft Power BI, an interactive data visualization software product with no need for coding or SQL programming. This article deeply explains the Power BI definition, pricing, key features, and alternatives.
What Is Power BI: Features, Pricing, Alternatives
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What Is Power BI

It is a business intelligence platform that Microsoft developed. The platform provides tools and techniques that help non-technical businesses gather, analyze, visualize, and share data. BI can easily handle many structured and
unstructured data for identifying, creating, and developing new strategic business opportunities.

Power BI is available in Free and Paid versions and comes in multiple types, including on-premise and cloud-based applications.

1. Power BI is a cloud-based and secure service Microsoft hosts; it allows users to view dashboards, reports, and Power BI apps and can be used via a web browser or mobile app.

2. Power BI Desktop is a FREE on-premises tool installed on any pc system to analyze data and share the results. There is no need for a Microsoft Office 365 subscription to use Power BI Desktop.

3. Power BI Pro is a Paid cloud-based software that allows collaboration with other Power BI users and reports distribution and visualizations to other Power BI subscribers across the organization; the Pro version provides a free trial for 60 days, and the monthly paid subscription will be 9.99USD per user.

4. Power BI Premium isn’t an application; it’s a dedicated space and capacity in the Microsoft-hosted cloud for the organization to be used only by its employees. The maximum available hosting space is 100GB. Power BI Premium monthly subscription starts from 4.995 UD per capacity, and users need a license to publish content into Power BI Premium capacity.

5. Power BI Report Server is an on-premises server that helps viewers to access the reports from Power BI Desktop or Pro via a web browser or mobile.

6. Power BI Mobile is a mobile app developed by Microsoft and available for Android, IOS, and Windows 10 to view the data reports and interact with other Power BI users in the organization.

Power BI Features

Microsoft Power BI Features

Massive Data Volume Accessibility

Power BI uses raw data from different sources such as Excel spreadsheets, CVS, XML, etc. Also, it can handle massive data volumes. As for standard Excel Sheets, data can’t go more than 1,048,576 rows; BI can hold data up to 100 million rows; this ability can vary depending on the BI used version, and to get the ultimate access, BI Premium gives it all.

Interactive and Customizable UI/UX Features

Power Bi interface is highly customizable and can be adjusted to meet the user’s needs by the simple drag and drops functionality to add or remove elements from the interface.

Real-time Analytics

Power BI collects data in real-time from any source, such as data factory sensors and social media sources. It allows performing real-time stream analytics to solve problems and identify opportunities quickly.

Exceptional Excel Integration

As the world’s number one data analysis tool, Excel can be easily integrated with Power BI. So, users can easily connect Excel queries, data models, and reports to the platform. However, it’s only available for Pro or Premium users only.

You can integrate Power BI not only with Excel, but also with monday.com, Jira, ServiceNow, and more. There are many Power BI Connectors that you can use to improve your data analysis. You can find the full list of BI Connectors here.

Create Custom Visualizations with R and Python

Power BI uses open source data-viz libraries from R and Python, which allows users to build custom data visualization for their reports. Additionally, Power BI provides standard ready-to-use data visualizations.

If you wish to explore Power BI advanced features for your multiple data sources, check Power BI Connectors from Alpha Serve that allow you to easily connect different data sources without coding skills for custom data export.

Easily Source and Transform Data with Power Query

Power Query allows users without SQL or coding knowledge to transform, join, and manipulate their data with an easy-to-use interface. So they can connect to files or databases from different sources easily.

Automatic Data Refreshes

Power BI provides a scheduled refresh feature that refreshes the user database regularly, saving time and freeing them to form tedious manual updates. The Updated database is automatically shared among the team, and this feature is available for Pro or Premium only.

If you rely on data from ServiceNow, you can now take advantage of the Incremental Refresh feature supported by the Power BI Connector for ServiceNow. This feature allows you to refresh only the new or updated data, rather than refreshing the entire dataset, saving you significant time and resources. By using this feature, you can keep your reports and dashboards up-to-date with the latest information without having to perform manual updates.

Re-use Datasets Across Different Reports and Dashboards (Pro or Premium only)

With the ability to set KPIs calculations in central datasets, users don’t need to re-enter the same KPIs in each report ensuring “Gross Profit” and “Sales Revenue” return the same numbers, regardless of which report they’re viewing.

Build your first Power BI dashboard in a day with Jira Power BI dashboard templates in Power BI Connector for Jira from Alpha Serve.

Power BI Alternatives

Power BI Alternatives


Tableau is one of the popular competitors of Power BI, with its underlying calculation model (MDX vs. DAX). As a result, Tableau generally outperforms Power BI on large data sets, often in exchange for a higher price tag. It also has great data visualization in the interface, data exploration, interactive visuals, or deployment.


  • A free trial is available
  • Tableau Viewer: $12/user/month
  • Tableau Explorer: $35/user/month
  • Tableau Creator: $70/user/month.

Power BI vs Tableau comparison you can read here.

Adobe Analytics

Adobe Analytics is a robust, highly customizable analytics suite that combines real-time data analysis and customer journeys based on online and offline sources; moreover, it collects digital data from many sources, such as websites, mobile apps, and even in-store kiosks/screens.

Additionally, it monitors audio and video consumption from third-party platforms such as CRM. The massive amount of gathered data is used for analyzing and improving customer experience. Adobe has made a significant effort to cover the whole online journey via different software, from providing something as simple as an advertisement maker to converting leads and not ending with high-end information analysis, as seen in Adobe Analytics above.


  • A free trial is available
  • Pricing upon request and provide three plans: Select, Prime, and Ultimate.

Zoho Analytics

Zoho is easy to set up and fast implemented self-service and analytics software. The spreadsheet interface and drag-and-drop designer allow users to create insightful dashboards and data visualizations. And the free Plan offers a great opportunity for new users to get familiar easily with the software.


  • Free Plan with limited features
  • Paid Plan starts at 22USD.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is a cloud-based tool and part of the Google Marketing Platform, and it can also integrate with other GA360 tools. It doesn’t require coding or SQL knowledge, provides intuitive, customizable report templates, and is best for low-budget companies. Also, it allows Tracking and reporting on website traffic and Ads, social media, and digital marketing campaigns.


  • The service is free for Google account holders.


Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses and the key factor in decision-making. With the enormous volume of available data, business intelligence provides an easy and quick way to get useful insights.

Power BI is a leading tool in this field, with many features to back it up. It’s an intuitive and easy-to-use tool, especially for non-technical users. However, many popular platforms to compete with Power BI are worth considering depending on the user’s requirements.

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