So, you want to use Power BI, but you need to figure out if it’s right. That’s fine! I get it. We’ve discussed the differences between Power BI and Excel before, but now let’s get specific: what exactly do these two products offer? If your company wants to use Power BI Pro (or Enterprise) but needs to know why that might be a good idea, then read on. In this post, we’ll look at what makes each product unique so that you can decide which one fits your needs best.

What is the difference between Power BI and Power BI Pro?

User Rights

In a nutshell, Power BI Pro is for power users who want to do more with their data than the average business user. Power BI is for the latter group, but it also has many capabilities that appeal to someone looking at what they could do with a little extra training.

Power BI Pro allows you to connect directly to a database, whereas Power BI only lets you connect through a SharePoint site or Excel file. It also has advanced features like analytics tools and the ability to build custom reports (in addition to all of the standard features). These are only available in Power BI if you are an enterprise customer or have purchased additional licenses for other users on your account that allow them access via shared folders or direct connection instead of just viewing reports from within their application.

Additionally, business users can use either version of the tool—but if they get into enough trouble trying something outside their level of expertise (like building complex formulas), then they may need help from IT professionals who know how best to use it.

Data Refresh

One of the most important features of Power BI Pro is its ability to refresh data in near real-time. It’s not just faster at refreshing data. It can also do it more frequently than Power BI—sometimes as often as every 15 seconds. This will help you stay up-to-date with your latest information and avoid delays in getting up-to-date dashboards out to your users.

In addition to being able to refresh data more quickly and regularly, Power BI Pro also gives you access to different types of refreshes that aren’t available through Power BI:

  • Real-Time – Data is refreshed continuously based on what happens in the backend system where it comes from (e.g., Salesforce). If someone adds a new row or updates an existing one, those changes are reflected almost immediately on your dashboard!
  • Near Real-Time – Data isn’t refreshed continuously but rather every few minutes or so (depending on what’s happening). That makes this option ideal if you want something between real-time and scheduled refreshes!
  • Schedule – Data is refreshed once you tell it to. This is great if you don’t want the dashboard to be updated automatically but still want the ability to refresh it on demand. This functionality will be available when Power BI Pro is released later this summer.

Access to Content Packs

Content packs are collections of data sources, visuals, and dashboards that you can use to create your dashboards. Power BI Pro is the only product that allows you to access content packs. Because they contain pre-built visualizations and models, content packs are a great way to start with Power BI.

Many different types of content packs are available from our partners at Microsoft and other third parties. For example, there’s a World Bank Dataset Pack for economic data about every country in the world (and some territories), an Adoption & Usage report template based on Salesforce customer data from App Annie (a marketing intelligence platform), or even an Ultimate Data Viz Collection that includes multiple types of visualizations like maps and timelines!

Access to Q&A Discovery

One of the most exciting features of Power BI Pro is Q&A Discovery, which allows you to ask questions about your data and get an answer. The results are presented in an easy-to-read table with filters to find what you’re looking for quickly. For example, if you want to know what percentage of your customers who bought red shoes also bought blue shoes in the same year, then you can type that into the Q&A box and see how many customers fit these criteria.

Q&A Discovery can be accessed by signing up for a free account at It’s worth noting that once this service is unlocked, it will remain unlocked even after switching between paid plans (e.g., from Power BI to Power BI Pro).

There are small differences between the two products.

Power BI and Power BI Pro are both cloud-based, Excel-centric products built on the same platform. They offer many of the same features, including dashboards, reports, KPIs (key performance indicators), and data visualizations. The only difference is that Power BI Pro has more features than its free counterpart—including those related to security and governance.

Here’s a quick rundown of some key differences between the two versions:

  • Power BI Pro costs money; you can get it with an annual subscription or pay monthly by the number of users.
  • The free version has limits on capacity (data storage and the maximum number of users), while Power BI Pro does not have those limitations.
  • With Power BI Pro, you get access to the entire set of features and tools available in the cloud version. You can also connect your on-premises data sources—including Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and more. The free version doesn’t offer this capability.
  • Power BI Pro offers advanced security features such as data encryption, data masking, and row-level security. The free version does not have these capabilities. Power BI Pro supports more connectors than the free version, which means you can connect to more cloud services, like Salesforce or Workday.


Power BI is a self-service business analytics platform that enables anyone to visualize, explore, and interact with data to gain insights. Power BI can be used by individuals and teams within an organization as well as across organizations. Power BI Pro provides additional features, such as built-in security and governance, allowing companies to maximize their investments in the platform.

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