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Microsoft today announced its business intelligence tool Power BI is being relaunched as a freemium product. The new version is available today as a free public preview to anyone with a U.S. business email account, and Microsoft plans to expand the scope internationally “in the future.”
The company didn’t say when exactly it will bring Power BI out of preview, but when the new version does hit general availability, it will be offered in two flavors. Power BI will be free, and Power BI Pro will be available as a monthly subscription with additional data capacity and features for the enterprise. The differences are outlined in full at powerbi.com/dashboards/pricing.
On February 1, Microsoft will slash the price of its in-market Power BI service to $9.99 per user per month, a 75 percent reduction. That’s a big change, especially given that it comes just a year after the first version of Power BI hit general availability.
At the same time, Microsoft today also outlined its plans for Power BI mobile apps, which VentureBeat was the first to unveil back in November. In short, the iPad app is available in preview today, and James Phillips, general manager of Microsoft’s business intelligence products group, told us an iPhone app would be available “within the next month.”
Microsoft also said Android and Windows apps were coming, confirming what we already knew: This is an iOS-first launch. The other apps will be available in the “first half of this calendar year,” Phillips told us.
The new Power BI features built-in connectors as well as pre-built dashboards and reports from a wide variety of sources. These include GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid, and Zendesk. Microsoft plans to add more in the next few months, including Inkling Markets, Intuit, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Sage, Sumo Logic, Visual Studio Application Insights, and Visual Studio Online.
Last but not least, the service has gained a new tool that allows business users to connect to, model, and visually analyze their data: Power BI Designer. Once you’ve made the changes you want, you can share your results with any Power BI customer.
Microsoft says the new Power BI “will fundamentally transform the ‘business of business intelligence’.” The goal is to help every company adopt a “data culture” by offering tools that lower the barrier to entry.
That’s a bold goal, and since Power BI is still in preview, we’ll leave the judging until it hits general availability. Based on what we have seen so far, however, the cloud-based business analytics service has gotten a big makeover. The browser version is much more powerful, mobile apps are finally trickling out, and the ability to import additional data sources means this is turning into a very powerful business offering.
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