The Power BI user community has long been asking for an intermediate tier between Pro and Premium licenses.

To understand the current status, Power BI has (had!) three licenses:

  • Free, for personal use only.
  • Pro, licensed per user with a flat fee of €8.40.
  • Premium, licensed by capacity, where the lowest one is a bit over €4200 per month.


Additionally, we can put here the Power BI Desktop “license”, free to download and use, but without any online or collaboration components. Despite this, it is a complete tool, allowing connections to all kinds of local sources, access to all the data transformations, modeling, reporting and export to other formats (such as xlsx or csv) without any limitation in programmatic terms or visualizations in relation to a Pro license.


Not disdaining the features offered by the Pro license, much is missing when we want to do an enterprise-grade job. Without a Premium license:

  • We cannot have models older than 1GB.
  • We are limited to 10GB per user.
  • Although we have incremental refresh for Datasets, it is not present in Dataflows.
  • Also on Dataflows, we are not allowed to connect one dataflow to another, making it impossible for a very usual pattern in ETL to have an intermediate step in our transformations.
  • Not having access to the XMLA endpoint makes it impossible to access and change the model present in the service, with all the limitations it entails. The possibilities that open up when we can connect to this endpoint deserves an entire post.
  • We cannot externally share a dashboard without access to everyone who has the link. And, by the way, if you are thinking of doing it, there are tutorials on many places (even Youtube videos) on how to find out the addresses of internal company reports, often with confidential data…
  • We do not have access to deployment pipelines, a subject that will lead to a second post in this series.


But let us see the OPEX differences in a small-to-medium sized company, with 10 dashboard “producers” and 50 “consumers”.

Using only Pro licenses, the math is easy. One Pro license to each, 60 x 8.40 = €504 per month.

Upgrading to Premium capacity, one Pro license to each “producer” and the capacity price. Using an entry-level P1 capacity, 4200 + 10 x 8,40 = €4284 per month.

Without doubting the value of the Premium license, it is flagrant that Microsoft should have an intermediate tier.


Of course, there are some differences between Premium Per User and “Per Capacity” but that, in my view, are not the most important to the target audience of this offer. Anyway, it is good to point out some of them, like the maximum size of a dataset can be “only” 100GB, we do not have paginated reports, we cannot use the “bring you own key” feature and the biggest of all, only other users with Premium Per User have access to the content. Regarding administration, there is no memory and CPU management, which is fully managed by the service.


It is not yet known what the price of this offer will be. Until it enters GA, it is available in preview and, as such, free of charge (and of SLA’s, never forget). What we know, for sure, is that will open new markets for Power BI and Microsoft in the Data Visualization area.


António Lourenço

Head of Data Visualization 


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