Is Power BI “Free” the same as a Personal version?

Is Power BI “Free” the same as a Personal version?
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In a recent blog post, Matt Allington offered some good commentary on the new Power BI license changes. There’s a lot of content to go through in his post, so check it out. One thing in particular struck me though in that he equated Free with Personal (UPDATE: this is terminology Microsoft uses that Matt used as well).

There’s a subtle difference in my mind, and it comes down how you interpret “personal”. Power BI does not allow you to sign up with a personal account. That has implications on what I might do as an individual on my own personal time. Any personal work I do is tied to my workspace on my workplace’s tenant.



Contrast Power BI “Free” with something like Tableau Public, where you can sign up for free with any personal account and perform what — in Power BI terms — is something like using “Publish to Web” with a shared public tenant. It doesn’t matter how many times you might change jobs and work accounts. Your personal output is still out there under your profile.

Some questions:

  1. Is Power BI exclusively meant to be a business and not a personal platform?
  2. Does the inability to sign up with a personal account impact the growing Power BI community? If so, how?
  3. What happens to personal output when a user no longer has access to their workplace’s tenant?
  4. Does the lack of true personal (individual) accounts hold back creativity on the Power BI platform?

If you are interested in using any email as a Power BI account, there is an idea that you can vote for that currently has 1500+ votes and over 400 comments.

Feel free to leave comments.


  1. Interesting points David. “Power BI Free for personal use” are actually Microsoft’s words. When I first heard this phrase, i suggested that if “free” now means “personal” then why not call it “personal”. Apparently name changes are not a big thing at Microsoft (except apparently Measures to Calculated Fields back to Measures, and Power Query to Get and Transform, to Get Data, but I digress).

    I guess “personal” meaning “non work” is a valid interpretation, but I don’t think it is what MS means in this instance. I think MS means “individuals”. And I too would like to see personal emails work. Given now there is no way to share across a tenant (e.g. with the free sku, maybe the barrier can now be overcome.

  2. if they make PowerBI desktop do not require an admin right, it will help a lot, personally it took me 3 months to get IT approval, as for personal email, i don’t care that much, after removing sharing, it become less attractive, by the way, you can use with some free email providers.

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