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Power BI “2.0” General Availability Announced

Author by Seth Bauer

Microsoft announced today that the general availability release date of Power BI is July 24th, 2015. If you haven’t yet tried out the Power BI “2.0” (In Preview), or have only heard rumblings of this new version of the Microsoft BI tool, now is the time! You can sign up with any business email and try it out for free! Here are some of the features that get me excited, and keep me awake burning the late night oil: From Idea to Analysis is really fast: The multiple avenues I can choose to try something out and get a visual makes me smile. I can play around with some sample data in excel, or Power BI Desktop (Designer), or build a tabular model and deploy it to the site, and every single one of the tools lets me visualize it. Depending on where or how the data is stored, I don’t have to jump through hoops to cram everything into a database, or vice versa a spreadsheet. Flexibility of the Visualization Creation: With the drag and drop features, and one click visualization changes, the work space becomes an interactive surface to explore data. The ability to change chart types rapidly, enhances discovery and analysis sessions by allowing the user to customize things to cater to the audience. And the ability to customize and configure charts now brings it up to the level I want for a finished report visualization I want in a dashboard. AS Tabular “live” connection: I love this feature. As soon as I refresh my model, the reports update and the dashboard tiles soon after. This is a huge deal when businesses want the most up to date information. This isn’t the only way to get near real time data, but it is my favorite. And the set-up was really straight forward. New Feature release schedule: The speed at which new features have been requested and implemented in preview has been mind-bending. The response time for when I’ve reported bugs, requested features, and asked questions is like nothing I’ve experienced. In fact, keeping up with the changes definitely keeps you on your toes. I’ve already felt that this was a blistering pace, and frankly, this line in the announcement gives me goosebumps, “Though our innovation pace has been high, it is more than sustainable and it is reasonable to expect acceleration.” Community Engagement: There is no doubt about it, the drive to engage the user community has been a priority and continues to be one. This has helped shaped the product to make sure that the tool can be, and will be, useful to as wide an audience as possible. Microsoft opened up a user voice site right off the bat and allows end users to make feature suggestions and others can vote if they want the same feature. Users are then kept up to date on if and when the BI team is going to implement them – that’s powerful stuff. Here is a link to the site requesting features for the Designer: Feature Request To solidify the community idea going forward, they’ve created a new community site where everyone can ask questions and receive answers to all Power BI related questions: Community Site

I could go on and on about the features, but I’ll just pass you on to the BI blog for the full list if you want to read them all: Feature List

Ad hoc or Enterprise, Power BI offers solutions that make data relevant to business leaders. This is no longer a “nice to have” idea, businesses realize the power of analytics, and the decisions they can make with the information in front of them makes a big difference. The time is here, in order to stay competitive, you need a BI solution. Microsoft is obviously invested in helping businesses achieve this on every level.

Now that you’ve spent way too much time reading about my thoughts, go check out the official announcement: Announcement