***Note this post applies to Power BI for Office 365 (deprecated as of 12/31/2015). Though some concepts remain the same or similar, all details are not necessarily applicable to the new Power BI V2 service.***
It seems we are a step closer to the Power BI preview becoming ready for release to GA (general availability). Pricing has been announced here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerBI/pricing.aspx.
I had to look at the following pricing chart for a minute to understand it – usually these kind of charts list the features you have by edition or something to that effect. However, in this case, the features you have end up being the same (more on that below). The differences shown below are only related to what prerequisites you already have in order to determine pricing.
Pricing for the E3/E4 plans is shown in the next screen shot. The importance of E3/E4 is that they come with Office 2013 Professional Plus and SPO Plan 2 – both of which are important prerequisites for Power BI features and functionality.
Let’s say you are an E3 subscriber at $20/month. Add the $20/month special offer price for Power BI and it’s a total of $40/month per user. That’s much better pricing than the $52 shown in the far right hand column of the pricing chart. Hmmm…sounds like a price break to entice more customers to the Enterprise Office 365 plans.
If you do subscribe to the E3 (or E4) plan prior to adding Power BI, you get a *lot* of features which are listed here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business/compare-all-office-365-for-business-plans-FX104051403.aspx. With this pricing model, Microsoft is offering significantly more benefits and value if you purchase Power BI on top of the E3 plan versus standalone Power BI. Purchasing as an E3 (or E4) add-on is the best deal for those companies who will utilize a good chunk of the extra features. There's not a price distinction for the producers of information (i.e., the data modelers and report writers who will publish workbooks to Power BI) versus the consumers (i.e., those who may just view content on the web or mobile app) which may be a hurdle in large organizations. My understanding is that Microsoft has been trying to simplify pricing, so it will be interesting to see if the amount of flexibility for features or users will evolve at some point.
Keep in mind that if you only have the Office 2013 Professional Plus software, you can still use the Excel components: Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, and Power Map. But…self-service BI becomes far more powerful when you integrate the Excel workbook with Power BI. What you gain by adding Power BI is the ability to share and collaborate using the BI Sites in Office 365, the ability to schedule data refreshes, and usage of the Mobile BI app. You can also search for other datasets published to Power BI in order to reuse existing logic (features that minimize duplication of work and reduce the potential for error get a big thumbs-up from me!). You also get new functionality released “cloud-first” such as the Q&A natural language query ability.
Finding More Information
Office – Power BI Pricing
Chris Webb’s Blog – Power BI Pricing Announced
Office – Power BI for Office 365