Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video What are Power BI Desktop and Desktop Pro?, part of Learn Microsoft Power BI Desktop: The Basics.
- [Voiceover] Power BI Desktop is one tool within the Power BI Toolkit. Let's talk about Power BI Desktop, also formerly known as Power BI Designer or Power BI Data Designer. The heart of Power BI currently is the Power BI Service which is an online service. The Power BI Service allows you to do things that you can't do in the desktop version alone, so this is the real workhorse.
If you want to use tools like the natural language tools to be able to query data, you'll find that in the Power BI Service, not on the desktop. Power BI Desktop and the Pro version, Power BI Desktop Pro, are used to create data models and to create reports and visualizations. They're used to be able to publish those things to the Power BI Service, and once you've done that, you can actually share the things that you've created, reports, datasets, and so on, with other users.
So with Power BI Desktop, you can connect to data sources and create data models. Formerly, you would have done this using Excel and a series of Excel add-ins like Power Pivot and Power Query, and you can still do that now. But you can also do that with Power BI Desktop and not need to switch from one tool or one add-in to another. You can build beautiful visualizations and put them together into reports. One interface.
You can make it easy for people to be able to work with the data that you have connected to and the models that you have created. And you can publish and share data models, visualizations, and reports with Power BI Services. Additionally, if you have Power BI data models that you have created in Excel formerly or that your colleagues create in Excel, you can import those data models from Excel into the Power BI Desktop products.
Power BI Services, hosted by Microsoft, allow you to explore datasets using natural language, view your dashboards that you create on mobile devices, use specialized content packs for SAS-based services, for example, content packs for accounting services. And Microsoft is launching a new specialized content pack every single week, so this is a growing list of content packs that are available for you to be able to use.
That's what both of these tools will do for you. Power BI Desktop has a one gigabyte data limit. The data is refreshed daily and if you are using streaming or live data, you can pull down 10,000 rows an hour using the Power BI Service. Power BI Desktop Pro is a pay for play product, 10 dollars or so a month. It has a 10 gigabyte data limit, hourly data refresh, and a million rows streaming in an hour, so you see this is a real workhorse.
And you can create direct interactive connections to your data as well as having your data served by the Power BI Service. Power BI Desktop is free. Power BI Desktop Pro is free for a limited trial, and then after that, 9.99 per user per month. If this is something you're just dabbling with, then you can begin by using the free trial and then at the end of the time, you can say, I'd like to use the free service. But if you're a business analyst and this is what you need to be doing, don't start with simply the free version.
You'll want to at least begin with the Desktop Pro version during your free trial, because Power BI Desktop Pro has even more than this. It also allows you to control access to the content that you post using Active Directory groups. You can use Office 365 groups. You can actually create new groups in Power BI that actually are Office 365 groups, but you need to have the Pro subscription to do that. And those content packs that Microsoft is creating for SAS-based services, well, you can create your own content packs for dashboards, reports, and datasets that you put together using Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Services, and you can then share those with other users.
But you need Pro in order to do that. There are features that are not available at this time in Power BI Desktop that we're told by Microsoft that we will see, or may see, in the future. One is, when you are working in Power BI Desktop, you have the ability to save your progress as a PBIX file. If you do this, that's great, and you can continue to work, but the data model itself that you're creating is not embedded in that file as a model.
So, if I take the file that I've created and I send it to somebody else, they won't be able to manipulate the data model, they won't be able to change anything about the query. So, this to me is a real limitation, and you'll see how that works as we go through the course. You can save a PBIX file at any time, however you can't make them portable, and you can't export data models from Power BI Desktop to Excel. You can import them, but you can't export them, so what this means is currently, when you create data models, when you create reports, in Power BI Desktop, you're best, and with some people, your only way of sharing that is going to be to take that data and publish it to Power BI Services, because you don't have a way to send the data models from one computer to the other by email.
As long as you remember that the center of Power BI from Microsoft is the web-based Power BI Service, and that everything that you create in Power BI Desktop, whether you use the free or the Pro version, will be shared using the Power BI Service, you're going to be just fine, because that's how it works. In this course, we'll be working with Power BI Desktop Pro, so you'll see all the features that are currently available to you in Power BI Desktop, and as soon as there are new features that allow users like you and I to be able to export data models or save them in the PBIX files, you can watch for those updates in the Power BI Features in Depth course in the lynda.com training library.
- Installing and launching Power BI Desktop
- Connecting to Excel and CSV files
- Connecting to a database or web data
- Querying data
- Transforming data
- Creating relationship between tables
- Merging data
- Creating visualizations and reports
- Publishing to the Power BI service
- Sharing and unsharing reports