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What Power BI gives you for free, and when and how to pay for extra services
Part two of a three-part series of blogs

You can create and publish reports using Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service, both of which are free, but to share them you'll need to pay either for Power BI Pro or Power BI Premium. This blog explains when you'll need to start spending money, and what your options are.

  1. Power BI paid services (Pro and Premium)
  2. Power BI Pro: when you need it, and how to get it (this blog)
  3. Power BI Premium

This blog is part of a longer series, which together comprise a full online training course in Power BI Service.  You can see get details of our classsrom Power BI training courses here.

Posted by Andy Brown on 08 July 2017

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Power BI Pro: when you need it, and how to get it

Anyone who has used Power BI for long will have seen this message:

Power BI Pro

Many additional features in Power BI Service require you to have a Power BI Pro licence.

When you need Power BI Pro

The rules for when you need Power BI Pro are simple: if you want to share or collaborate on reports, you'll need to upgrade.  For example, you'll need Power BI Pro to do the following:

Service When you'd use it
Creating an app When you want to create app services to share with other users.
Sharing a dashboard When you want to let other people in your company view a dashboard that you've created.
View shared content When somebody else has shared an app workspace or dashboard, and you want to view what they've done.
Exporting to PowerPoint When you want to create a presentation based upon the pages of a report (a feature currently in preview)
Analysing with Excel When you want to create a pivot table based upon datasets you've published to Power BI Service.

However, you no longer need Power BI Pro to do any of the following:

Service When you'd use it
Apply row-level security When you want to prevent some users of your reports from seeing certain data.
Increase your limits Free users of Power BI Desktop now get access to the same file and data limits as paid users.

In a nutshell: if you want to share reports with other people in any way, you're going to have to upgrade.

Here's a table from Microsoft summarising the above:

Table Power BI Pro needs

You can see this table here.

Getting Power BI Pro as an individual

The simplest way to get Power BI Pro is to click on the Try Pro for free button above.  You can also click on the notification symbol in Power BI Service:

Activate trial icon

You can click on the icon shown at the top right of Power BI Service, then activate your trial by clicking on the link which appears.

Getting Power BI Pro through the Office 365 admin centre

You can also buy licences through Office 365.  First go to the admin centre:

Office 365 admin centre

Sign on to Office 365, and go to the Admin centre.


Go to your billing subscriptions:

Billing subscriptions

Choose this option from the Billing menu.


Choose to add a subscription:

Adding a subscription

Click on the Add subscriptions button.


You can now either buy the software or start a free trial:

Power BI Pro Office 365

After starting a trial for or buying Power BI Pro, you can assign licences to users in the usual Office 365 way.


How long do free trials last?

That depends!  There are two classes of people:

When you signed up Length of trial
Before 3rd May 2017 Until 31st May 2018
On or after 3rd May 2017 60 days

At the end of your trial period you'll have to take out a paid subscription or be reverted to the free service.  You can see how many days you have left at the top right of Power BI Service:

Days left till end of trial

The clock is counting down! Astute readers will be able to work out that I'm writing this on 5th July 2017.

How much does Power BI Pro cost?

At the time of writing the subscription cost to Power BI Pro is $9.99 per month, or £7.50 a month in the UK.  You can see the latest prices for this service here.

Be aware that if you want to share a dashboard or app with 10 other users in your organisation, you'll need 11 licences (one for you, and one for each of the other 10 people).  The alternative is to subscribe to Power BI Premium.

  1. Power BI paid services (Pro and Premium)
  2. Power BI Pro: when you need it, and how to get it (this blog)
  3. Power BI Premium
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