Power BI Access

Learn about some of the available Power BI products and how to access them.

Versions, cost, and compatibility

As per Microsoft's documentation, Power BI mainly consists of:

  • A Windows desktop application called Power BI Desktop.
  • An online Software as a Service application called the Power BI Service - referred to as Power BI or Power BI Online.
  • Power BI mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android devices.



As a business user, we suggest utilizing Power BI Online Power BI Online for optimal results. If you do not yet have a Power BI account, it is simple to create one at no cost. As your needs evolve, you may choose to upgrade to a paid version to access additional features.

Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is a free PC or desktop application that requires installation.

It is compatible only with Windows machines, and can't be used on Mac.

Power BI Desktop is primarily utilized by data analysts for designing and publishing reports to a cloud-based version of Power BI, known as Service. This cloud-based platform can be accessed on any web navigator by team members, regardless of their operating system, whether Windows or Mac.

Power BI Online

Power BI Service, commonly referred to as Power BI or Power BI Online, is a cloud-based software that can be accessed on your navigator on app.powerbi.com.

Anyone in your team can access and use Power BI Online in their web navigator, such as Chrome, whether on Windows or Mac.

Power BI Online provides a free limited version best suited for non-collaborative use. To access more capabilities, including team collaboration, a paid version called Power BI Pro exists. The Pro version is included in Microsoft 365 E5; else, it costs $9.99 to $13.70/per user/month.

Microsoft provides documentation on the different available license types, and their pricing page outlines differences in features between the paid versions.

While it is possible to create reports directly on Power BI Online, the usual method is to use the Desktop version to build reports, particularly if you do not have access to a Windows machine. Power BI Desktop is more powerful and is optimized for report building, whereas the online version, is primarily designed for business usage.


Power BI Desktop is primarily for report creators, usually data analysts, while Power BI Service or Power BI Online is for business users. Both versions allow the creation of reports but to different degrees.

Power BI Desktop is free for Windows users, while a license is required to use Power BI Online on other operating systems.

VersionCompatibilityBest ForCostAllows Building Reports
Power BI DesktopWindows- Building reports
- Data Analysts
Power BI OnlineAny device
- Using reports
- Business users
- Free
- Paid version included in Microsoft 365 E5, else starts at $9.99 to $13.70/per user/month
Yes but less advanced



DataHawk can provide you with a dashboard featuring pre-built templates that can be accessed on any Power BI version, whether on Windows or Mac.

If you lack a team of data analysts to build reports for you, DataHawk offers a personalized white-glove service for dashboard building and customization.

What’s Next