Saturday, November 7, 2015

Power BI Desktop vs. Power BI Service

There seems to be some confusion around the difference between the Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service (aka PowerBI.com) and when to use which. Please note that though Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service are different applications meant for different purposes and are referred to as "companions applications" by Microsoft, they do share some commonalities and hence the reason for confusion. Below are some of the key differences:

- Power BI Desktop is mostly about content authoring whereas Power BI Service is mostly about consumption, collaboration, and administration. IMO, this is the main difference between the two applications.

- Though both Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service provide a freeform, drag-and-drop canvas for creating stunning visualizations, there are a few things that are more “richer” in one than the other and/or only available in one and not in the other application. Below are a few examples:
  • We can’t create data models (datasets) using the Power BI Service, we can only ‘consume’ the data models created using Power BI Desktop (or Excel add-ins for that matter).
  • Content Packs can only be created and shared using the Power BI Service
  • Ability to setup data-driven alerts and create annotations are only available on mobile devices and hence only possible in the Power BI Service
  • Quick Insights (an interesting feature of Power BI ) is only available in Power BI Service
  • Natural Langauge Query (also called Q&A) is only available in Power BI Service
  • Calculated fields can only be created in Power BI Desktop

Hope this is helpful! 

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