Power BI General Availability Coming July 24th

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Power BI General Availability Coming July 24th – MSDynamicsWorld.com 

Microsoft on Friday announced that Power BI will be generally available July 24th.

This culminates fully seven months of user input and incremental improvements. Microsoft in December released a Power BI preview, and closed it down in mid June to put on the finishing touches. The preview version added new dashboards, visualizations, a native iPad app and live “hybrid” connectivity to on-premise SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models. It also added support for integration with popular third party solutions like Marketo, zendesk, Salesforce, and GitHub.

Well, here it is at last, and “I think this is huge,” wrote Dallas Salazar in Seeking Alpha, who observed that Microsoft wants Power BI to be “the platform for business intelligence across both SMB and enterprise deployment.” Enhanced ability to tailor reports in Power BI Desktop (which until now was called Power BI Designer) can only drive adoption and use cases. And, Microsoft’s adoption of burst development versus version iterations has proved it is listening to its user base, which wants to put its ideas to work now.

As for pricing, Microsoft will be sticking to its “freemium” model, with Power BI being free and Power BI Pro costing $9.99/user/month. For that you get all the functionality of Power BI plus collaboration tools, plus 10 GB/user of data capacity versus 1 GB for Power BI and live data refresh.

Microsoft released a lengthy list of new features and capabilities, but summarized them as follows:

Power BI Desktop (see graphic) is a “powerful new visual data exploration and interactive reporting tool” available at no cost at PowerBI.com. It provides a free-form canvas for drag-and-drop exploration of data and an extensive library of interactive visualizations, “while streamlining report creation and publishing to the Power BI service.” The Power BI Desktop will include:

  • New visualizations including matrix, area, waterfall, and donut charts.
  • New visualization formatting such as color setting, titles, labels, and legends.
  • New data source support has also been extended to include Zendesk, Intuit Quickbooks Online, AppFigures, GitHub, Twilio, and SweetIQ.
  • Direct connection to SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models for data exploration. These and other new features will be available later this month.

Power BI web authoring and data exploration enhancements, with greater web-based authoring capability, aimed at making it easier to create and format visualizations for dashboards and reports though the browser.

Power BI visuals open-source project. “Customers are no longer limited by the visualizations provided by their software vendor,” promises Microsoft, which by opening its “commercial grade visualization framework and visuals” built on D3.js, enables customers and partners to extend and build custom visuals. Alongside with the visualization framework, Microsoft is also delivering a test suite and tooling, all of which is available now as an open-source project on GitHub at https://github.com/Microsoft/PowerBI-visuals.

Power BI Content Packs are “changing how you connect to data”. Power BI provides pre-built solutions that allow a subscriber to a supported service to quickly connect to that service from Power BI and see their data through pre-built live dashboards and interactive reports.  As of this writing, Microsoft has released content packs for 16 popular services including Salesforce.com, Marketo, and Quickbooks Online, and plans to integrate Adobe Analytics, comScore, Azure Mobile Engagement, Sage, SpaceCurve, tyGraph, CircuitID, Sumo Logic, SQL Sentry, Zuora, Planview, Insightly, Troux, Inkling.

Microsoft will also release Organizational Content Packs that allow users, BI professionals and system integrators to build their own Content Packs to share purpose built dashboards, reports and datasets within an organization for others to consume and gain business insights.

Team collaboration and enhanced Excel support. Power BI will provide support for Groups, enabling teams to collaborate and work on the same set of dashboards, reports, and datasets. Power BI will also provide full Excel support enabling users to both import Excel workbooks to build Power BI dashboards and reports, as well as view these workbooks through Excel Online.

Direct connectivity to Apache Spark. Today Power BI users can connect directly to SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Power BI now extends this support to Apache Spark for Big Data scenarios, with connected dashboards and reports that query live to the data from the Apache Spark open source framework.

New Power BI mobile app for Android. A Power BI mobile app for Android phone is now available, building upon the existing mobile support for iPhone, iPad, and Windows devices.

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