Methods to Install PowerBI Desktop Application Remotely

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Mar, 22, 2021 12:03

Methods to Install PowerBI Desktop Application Remotely

Power BI Desktop: Meaning and common ways of Usage

Power BI Desktop is a part of the range of services provided under the umbrella of Microsoft BI services. It is a free application that can be installed on a local computing device. The basic functions performed by this application include the methods of acquiring, transforming, and organizing data into visuals, reports, and dashboards. Several sources of data can be integrated into this application. After this integration, the acquired data can be used to create data models. 

Data models in return help the organization to design visuals and dashboards. Later, the visuals can be shared within or outside the organization in the form of different business Intelligence reports.  Power BI Desktop is widely used among business intelligence professionals. The data models are transformed into reports in the Power BI Desktop and shared through Power BI Service. 

The functions performed by the Microsoft BI Desktop as a reporting tool can be stated as follows:

  1. The application can connect to several data sources.
  2. The raw data that is acquired can later be cleaned.
  3. The data models are created from the transformed data.
  4. The data models further help in creating visuals, graphics or other forms of data visualizations.
  5. These visuals can later be shared within the organisation in the form of reports or dashboards.
  6. Power BI Service helps to share the reports created within the Power BI Desktop with individuals outside the organization.

What are different methods of getting access to Power BI Desktop,

The application can be installed in the system for free. It helps the user to perform advanced forms of data queries, create models, reports and design visuals from data models. The method of getting the Power BI Desktop installed in the user system is two-fold. Both these methods help to install the latest version of the Desktop application. 

These can be divided into the following:-

  1. Installing the application from the Microsoft Store or
  2. Downloading it directly into the system and then installing it into the computer.
These methods are briefly discussed as follows-
  • Installing the application from the Microsoft Store: The latest version of the application can be accessed from the Microsoft Store. There are two ways of opening the Power BI Desktop page on the Microsoft Store. They are-
  1. Click open the Browser. Choose the Power BI Desktop Page from the Microsoft Store.
  2. In the Power BI Service, located in the upper right-hand corner, click the Download icon. After that select Power BI Desktop.

After choosing one of the two methods, the Power BI Desktop Product Page opens. Click on Download for free. But, if the Microsoft Page has been opened for Power BI Desktop, then click on Install.

  • Downloading the application directly and then installing it: The application can be downloaded directly by following these steps-
  1. Go to the Download Center Page.
  2. Click on Download.
  3. Specify a 32-bit or 64-bit installation file to download.

After the process, if downloading is complete, the installation file runs automatically. The Power BI Desktop usually ships in the form of a single .exe installation package. It contains all the languages that are supported by the Desktop application. There are separate .exe files for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The method simplifies the processes of distribution, updates and installation. 

Finally after the installation package is run and launched the Power BI Desktop installs in the computer as an application. Then onwards the user can use the application for all performing several business intelligence functions. But, the directly downloaded version of the application and the version downloaded from the Microsoft Store cannot work simultaneously. One of the versions has to be manually uninstalled in order to install the other version.

What is the Process of using Microsoft BI Desktop:

The method of using Power BI Desktop after its installation in the system is simple. A welcome screen is displayed after the application is installed. If a user organization is using Power BI Desktop for the first time a form needs to be filled. This form is related to the Power BI Service. It is a necessity that needs to be completed. After this, the organization can use this application for transforming data, organize it, and create visuals and reports from it. The application is designed to enable the organization to connect to several data sources. The data from these sources are then integrated and transformed into data models for easy access to information.

Basic Requirements for using Microsoft Power BI desktop:

The Microsoft BI Desktop is a free application that helps organizations to acquire and transform data from multiple sources. It might seem like several requirements need to be met before installing this application. But in reality, the application has a minimum requirement. This means that a company fulfill certain basic needs before installing the application. 

These can be listed as follows:-

  1. Windows 8.1 or the Windows Server 2012 R2.
  2. Internet Explorer 11 or later.
  3. Memory RAM: A minimum of 2GB RAM is needed. But, usually a 4GB RAM is recommended.
  4. Display: A minimum of 1440×900 or 1600×900 is needed.
  5. Display settings in Windows: If the display settings of the size of text, applications and others are more than 100%, certain dialogs become invisible. The user organization will later be unable to see dialogues that are needed to continue using Power BI Desktop. The display settings need to be reduced to 100% if this kind of trouble is faced by the company.
  6. CPU: A CPU of 1GHz 64-bit processor or better is recommended.

It is to be noted that Power BI Desktop will not be supported in Windows 7 from 31st January 2021. Also, in comparison to the Windows server, a client version of Windows 10 is recommended for using the application.

Process of Installing Power BI Desktop in remote machines:

The term ‘Remote Machine’ refers to a device that the user organization cannot access physically. But, the user can maintain access to this device and interact with it through digital technologies. In the context of Microsoft BI, installing Power BI Desktop is possible in remote machines through Wix Toolset

This is a third-party tool that can aid in deploying Power BI Desktop to a company’s customers. The method of installing Microsoft Desktop on a remote device can be completed in the following steps-

  • The Wix Toolset is to be installed in the device where Power BI Desktop is already downloaded. But, the Wix Toolset necessarily needs to be of the latest version.
  • Next, a command-line window has to be opened. The administrator has to perform this function. Then, open the folder that has the Wix Toolset saved.
  • The following command needs to run in the device:
Dark.exe <path to Power BI Desktop installer> -x <output folder>
  • The final folder is Output. This will contain a folder with the name ‘Attached Container’. This will contain the .msi files.

But, it is necessary to remember that if an attempt is made to install an upgrade from a .exe to .msi it will fail. This is because the .msi is an extraction of the .exe. To perform this upgrade, the old version of Power BI Desktop has to be uninstalled.


The Power BI Desktop application is updated by Microsoft on a monthly basis. These updates consist of new features that are incorporated from the customer feedback. Only the latest version of the application is supported in devices.

Errin O'Connor
About the Author

Errin O'Connor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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