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Power BI Cost & Licensing Guide for Desktop, Pro, and Premium.

When selecting the ideal Power BI solution for your firm, we’ll provide you with all the information you want to make an informed choice. Microsoft created the potent business intelligence and data visualization tool known as Power BI, which has several features and plans to suit the demands of different users. 

This guide will explore the costs and licensing options associated with Power BI Desktop, Pro, and Premium. But first, let’s address the fundamental question: which Power BI licensing option is the right fit for your business needs?

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI (Power Business Intelligence) is a suite of analytics tools designed to help organizations visualize, analyze, and share insights from their data. Developed by Microsoft, Power BI provides a user-friendly, cloud-based platform enabling users to create interactive reports and dashboards easily. 

Businesses can consolidate their data and make data-driven decisions by linking to numerous data sources such as Excel spreadsheets, databases, and cloud-based services.

Power BI offers different components to cater to diverse business needs. Power BI Desktop is a free Windows-based application for data analysis and report creation, featuring advanced data modeling and visualization capabilities.

Power BI Premium offers dedicated cloud or on-premises resources for larger organizations and advanced analytics requirements, ensuring higher performance and more extensive features. These elements cooperate to deliver a thorough business intelligence solution for organizations of all sizes.

Power BI License Versions

These license options cater to a wide range of users, from those seeking basic data visualization tools to those requiring advanced analytics and collaboration capabilities. By recognizing the benefits and costs of each version, you can make an informed decision on which Power BI license best suits your organization’s needs. The three main licensing options for Power BI are

  1. Power BI Free / Desktop
  2. Power BI Pro
  3. Power BI Premium

Power BI Free / Desktop: Cost and Features

Power BI Free, also known as Power BI Desktop, is a versatile data visualization and analysis tool designed for individuals and small teams. It offers several tools that let users connect to different data sources, build reports and dashboards, and handle data modeling, all without paying a penny. 

Ideal for users seeking a powerful yet budget-friendly business intelligence solution, Power BI Desktop is an excellent starting point for those new to data analysis or working on personal projects.


Power BI Free / Desktop has several important capabilities, including:

  • Data Visualization & Analysis: Power BI Desktop offers a comprehensive set of visualization tools, allowing users to create interactive reports and dashboards that bring their data to life.
  • Connect to Various Data Sources: Power BI Desktop supports connections to various data sources, including Excel spreadsheets, databases, and cloud-based services.
  • Data Modeling: With Power BI Desktop, users can create custom measures, calculated columns, and relationships between tables, enabling more in-depth data analysis.

Local Report Storage: Reports created using Power BI Desktop are stored locally on the user’s device, ensuring that data remains secure and accessible even without an internet connection.


Power BI Free / Desktop is free, making it an ideal option for individuals and small teams looking to explore data visualization and analysis without a financial commitment.

Per-user and Per-capacity Fees

It’s essential to note that Power BI Free / Desktop does not have per-user or per-capacity fees, as it is a free tool designed for individual use. The licensing options with per-user or per-capacity fees come into play with Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium, which offer more advanced features, collaboration capabilities, and dedicated resources for large-scale deployments.

Power BI Pro: Cost and Features

Power BI Pro is the best option for businesses using their data for better decision-making since it has improved capabilities that let users share reports and work with team members. Along with cloud storage, app connectivity, and increased data refresh frequency, it has all the capabilities of Power BI Free / Desktop.


Key features of Power BI Pro include:

  • Sharing and Collaboration: Power BI Pro enables users to share reports and collaborate with team members, promoting a data-driven culture within the organization.
  • Cloud Storage: Reports and dashboards created using Power BI Pro are stored in the cloud, making them easily accessible from anywhere and ensuring data security.
  • App Integration: Power BI Pro allows users to integrate their reports and dashboards with other Microsoft apps and services, such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Power Apps, streamlining the data analysis process.

Data Refresh Frequency: Power BI Pro offers more frequent data refreshes than Power BI Free / Desktop, ensuring users have access to up-to-date information for their analysis.


Power BI Pro pricing starts at $10 per user per month for the cloud-based option and $20 per user per month for on-premises deployment. This per-user licensing model makes it easy for organizations to scale their business intelligence capabilities as needed.

Per-user and Per-capacity Fees

Power BI Pro operates on a per-user licensing model, with each user requiring a license to access the service. This means that the cost is directly tied to the number of users who need access to Power BI Pro features.

In contrast, the more advanced license version of Power BI Premium offers a per-capacity fee model. In this model, organizations pay for dedicated resources, regardless of the number of users, providing greater scalability and performance for larger enterprises.

Power BI Premium: Cost and Features

Power BI Premium is a high-performance business intelligence solution tailored for large enterprises and organizations with complex requirements. Offering all the features of Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium adds dedicated cloud or on-premises resources, advanced analytics, and enhanced scalability and performance. 

This license version is designed for organizations that require greater capacity, faster data processing, and more extensive features to support data-driven decision-making across the enterprise.


Power BI Premium has several important features including:

  • Dedicated Resources: Power BI Premium provides dedicated cloud or on-premises resources, ensuring faster data processing, improved performance, and enhanced reliability.
  • Advanced Analytics: Power BI Premium offers advanced analytics capabilities, such as dataflows, machine learning, and AI-driven insights, enabling organizations to uncover deeper insights from their data.
  • Scalability & Performance: Power BI Premium is designed for large-scale deployments, providing greater scalability and performance to handle more extensive data volumes and higher user loads.
  • Greater Data Capacity & Refresh Frequency: Power BI Premium supports larger data capacities and more frequent data refreshes, ensuring that users always have access to the most up-to-date information for their analysis.


Pricing for Power BI Premium starts at $4,995 per month for both dedicated cloud and on-premises deployments. This cost covers the dedicated resources and advanced features of Power BI Premium, making it a suitable option for organizations with extensive business intelligence requirements.

Per-user and Per-capacity Fees

It allows individual users to access Power BI Premium features without the need for dedicated resources. With a starting price of $20 per user per month, Power BI Premium Per User is a more affordable solution for businesses with fewer users that need access to powerful analytics features.

The per-capacity fee model is the traditional pricing model for Power BI Premium. In this model, organizations pay for dedicated cloud or on-premises resources, ensuring higher performance, greater scalability, and enhanced reliability. The per-capacity model is ideal for large enterprises with many users and extensive data requirements. 

Power BI Premium per-capacity pricing starts at $4,995 per month for dedicated cloud and on-premises deployments. This cost covers the dedicated resources and advanced features of Power BI Premium.

Key differences between Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium, and Power BI Free

Each licensing option offers unique features and capabilities, making them suitable for organizational needs and budgets. These three license variants are thoroughly compared in the table below:

Feature / CapabilityPower BI Free (Desktop)Power BI ProPower BI Premium
Data VisualizationYesYesYes
Data AnalysisYesYesYes
Data ModelingYesYesYes
Connect to Data SourcesYesYesYes
Local Report StorageYesNo (Cloud storage only)No (Cloud or on-premises storage)
Sharing & CollaborationNoYesYes
App IntegrationNoYesYes
Data Refresh FrequencyLimitedMore frequentMost frequent
Dedicated ResourcesNoNoYes
Advanced AnalyticsNoNoYes
Scalability & PerformanceLimitedLimited (Per-user licensing)High (Per-capacity licensing)
CostFree$9.99/user/month (Cloud)
 $20/user/month (On-premises)
Starting at $20,000/month (Dedicated cloud)
Starting at $20,000/month (On-premises)

Limitations of Power BI Free, Power BI Pro vs. Power BI Premium Explained

Each option has its unique constraints, which organizations should carefully consider based on their specific needs, budget, and data requirements. By understanding these limitations, users can determine the most appropriate plan to effectively leverage the power of data visualization and business intelligence solutions for their company.

Power BI Free (Desktop) Limitations

  1. No Sharing & Collaboration: Power BI Free (Desktop) does not support sharing and collaboration features, making it unsuitable for team-based projects and organizations.
  1. Local Report Storage: Reports are stored locally on the user’s device, which may not be ideal for users who need to access their reports from multiple locations or devices.
  1. Limited Data Refresh Frequency: Power BI Free (Desktop) offers limited data refresh capabilities compared to Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium.
  1. No App Integration: Power BI Free (Desktop) does not support integration with other Microsoft apps and services, which can limit the tool’s effectiveness in a larger organizational context.

Power BI Pro Limitations

  1. Limited Scalability: Due to its per-user pricing model, Power BI Pro may become cost-prohibitive for organizations with many users requiring access to business intelligence tools.
  1. No Dedicated Resources: Power BI Pro does not offer dedicated resources, which can impact performance and reliability for organizations with extensive data requirements.
  1. No Advanced Analytics: Power BI Pro lacks advanced analytics features like dataflows, machine learning, and AI-driven insights, limiting its capabilities compared to Power BI Premium.

Power BI Premium Limitations

  1. Higher Cost: With pricing starting at $20,000 per month for dedicated cloud or on-premises deployments, Power BI Premium may be cost-prohibitive for smaller organizations or those with limited budgets.
  2. Complex Deployment: Power BI Premium may require more complex deployment and maintenance processes, particularly for on-premises installations, which can be challenging for organizations with limited IT resources.

Business Type/RequirementRecommended Power BI VersionReason
Individual or small teamsPower BI Free (Desktop)Allows for data visualization and analysis with local data storage and no additional cost.
Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs)Power BI ProProvides sharing, collaboration, and cloud storage features suitable for growing businesses.
Large businessesPower BI PremiumOffers dedicated resources, advanced analytics, and high scalability for extensive data needs.
Organizations with complex data needPower BI PremiumSupports advanced analytics, dataflows, machine learning, and AI-driven insights.
Businesses requiring frequent data refreshPower BI PremiumEnsures the most frequent and flexible data refresh options for up-to-date insights.

How EPC Group Can Help You Choose the Best Power BI License for Your Business

EPC Group is a trusted consulting firm specializing in Microsoft technologies, including Power BI. We can assist you since we are knowledgeable and skilled in choosing the best Power BI license for your business. 

By considering factors such as the number of users, frequency of use, and specific business requirements, we can help you make an informed decision to maximize the value of your investment in Power BI.
If you want to implement Power BI in your organization, don’t choose the wrong license—partner with us to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how they can help you choose the best Power BI license for your business.

Errin OConnor

Errin OConnor

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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