What is Power BI?

Power BI is a powerful Microsoft solution capable of connecting a wide variety of data sources, such as files, web pages, application data bases, or APIs, among others, that can be located locally, in the company, or the cloud. This Microsoft solution consolidates all information in a single data model and maintains it automatically updated.

It allows you to create reports and dashboards and share them with others in your organization, thus contributing to data analysis and decision-making. Thanks to its user-friendly structure, all company members can use it and take advantage of it. In this sense, it is not only restricted to the IT team.

You can centralize a large volume of data in a single repository, fostering practical and efficient management. It’s also possible to conduct high levels of analysis through visually friendly reports (using automatic charts and tables), in addition to obtaining various indicators and metrics that help consolidate intelligent decision-making.

Power BI has already proven essential for the business world. Mastering Power BI is now almost as important as knowing how to use Excel. But which Power BI online subscription is ideal for your company? In this article we offer you an overview of them, comparing Power BI Free vs Pro vs Premium. We encourage you to continue reading and exploring them with us!

Power BI Free

Power BI Free, as the name suggests, is a free subscription for the platform that has many of the paid version’s features but some limitations.

Even though it’s free, you will still need to assign a license to the individual who will be using Power BI—otherwise, they will not be able to leverage it. The license is unlimited, meaning anyone who is registered can use it cost-free.

The free subscription allows you to use the Power BI Desktop version, which enables you to connect to your data and start creating dashboards and reports. There are more than 130 types of sources that you can connect to Power BI to retrieve information, and you can use all connectors available.

You can work with this data locally or, if necessary, you can publish the reports in "My Workspace" and use Power BI Service or Power BI Mobile.

You can find this image in Microsoft's documentation

If you want to share the report, you will need to publish it to the web (Public). Bear in mind that if you do so, anyone will be able to see your report.

Even though Power BI Free has plenty of features there are some limitations. For example:

  • You are not allowed to share the reports with other users. Only you can see/use the reports that you have created.
  • There is a 1GB storage limit per user.
  • You are not allowed to create a collaborative workspace.
  • You are not allowed to set up incremental refresh.
  • You are not allowed to use Direct Query.
  • You are not allowed to embed dashboards in Portal, PowerApps, SharePoint, or Microsoft Teams.

Power BI Pro

Aside from the free version, Power BI Pro is the cheapest subscription available. When comparing Power Bi Free vs Pro, we can affirm that only the latter one allows you to share reports and dashboards and collaborate with other groups and workspaces.

With the Pro subscription, you can take advantage of native integrations with other Microsoft solutions, and the maximum storage limit is increased to 10GB. You also have the ability to schedule updates of your data in the dataset, up to eight times per day, through Power BI Service.

This subscription also has fewer of the limitations of the free version:

  • You are allowed to create a collaborative workspace.
  • You are allowed to set up incremental refresh.
  • You are allowed to embed dashboards in Portal, PowerApps, SharePoint, or Microsoft Teams.
  • You are allowed to create a dataflow.

To better understand how Power BI Pro user subscriptions work, let’s take a look at a common user example:

“Contoso company” has 10 employees:

  • Ryan is responsible for developing and sharing the reports/dashboards.
  • Ava and Miller are managers who need access to reports in order to create filters to analyze the data.
  • Seven salespeople don't need access to reports.

In this scenario, you would need separate subscriptions for Ryan, Ava, and Miller.

It’s important to note that if you already have a Microsoft 365 E5 subscription, Power BI Pro is already included.

There is a 30-day free trial subscription if you want to test it out.

Power BI Premium for companies

Unlike the Free, Pro, or Premium per user subscriptions, Power Bi Premium for companies is not a per-user license. Instead, it offers access to all users in the organization. This dedicated capacity can be used to host large datasets of up to 400GB, providing a total of 100TB maximum storage, and allows you to schedule updates up to 48 times per day to refresh the data in your dataset.

If your company has a Power BI Premium subscription, users still need a Power BI Pro paid subscription for publishing content in the Power BI Premium shared capacity. What you pay for with this model is a large storage capacity for the organization, but the users who share and participate in creating in that space must have their own Pro subscription. However, users that only need to view the reports don’t need a Pro subscription.

In addition, when we compare Power BI Free vs Pro vs Premium for companies, we see that the premium model allows you to access some features that are not included in the rest:

If you are looking to embed Power BI reports/dashboards in a web application or in a website for your customers or your organization, you can leverage Power BI embedded analytics.

Power BI Premium per user

Power Bi Premium per user subscription includes all features available with Power BI Pro, allowing you to share reports and dashboards and collaborate with other groups and workspaces.

In addition, you will be able to tap into most of the features that are available on Power Bi Premium for companies’ subscription:

Power BI online subscriptions comparison table

Power BI Free vs Pro vs Premium Comparison Table
Data extracted in September 2022 from Microsoft's official documentation about pricing and features.

Power BI Free vs Pro vs Premium

So, in terms of evaluating Power Bi Free vs Pro vs Premium, we would say that ultimately, the subscription you choose depends on the size of the company and its projects, as well as the ways the company plans to use it. You will need to consider which subscription meets the most requirements.

The free subscription is ideal for small companies with less comprehensive datasets that lack the budget needed for more complex business intelligence tools.

The Pro subscription is intended for medium/large corporations that handle big data and operate across multiple sectors. It is ideal for those organizations that prioritize data analysis.

Finally, the Premium subscription for companies is useful for companies with more than 500 employees that need the capabilities of Power BI, with its large and dedicated storage capacity. Whereas the Premium per user subscription is for those who need the features available on Premium for companies’ subscription but are not available to afford a dedicated capacity.

All in all, it is vital to remember that Microsoft can change these subscription models anytime. So, before deciding on one of them, were commend you check their official site.


  1. https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/
  2. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/enterprise/service-premium-features
  3. https://docs.microsoft.com/pt-br/power-bi/fundamentals/power-bi-overview