If you want to develop Power BI reports, you’ll need the Power BI Desktop application. However, Power BI Desktop application comes in two ways; Download it separately and install it on your Windows machine, or Get it from Microsoft Store as an App. The question that I often get is; What is the difference? which one is better? Let’s talk about that in this post.
Power BI Desktop: Report Authoring Tool
Power BI Desktop is a tool that every Power BI Developer needs to build Power BI reports. This tool is FREE.
When you open Power BI Desktop for the first time, there is a pop-up window, which will ask you to log in, but that is not mandatory. You can use Power BI Desktop without any account, username or login credentials.
Power BI Desktop in Microsoft Store
One of the ways to download Power BI Desktop is to get it from Microsoft Store.
Again, that doesn’t mean you need to pay for it. All you need is a Microsoft account (which can be live account) to be able to access apps from the store, and the Power BI Desktop app is free;
As you see in the screenshot below, Power BI Desktop can be searched in the Microsoft Store, and easily downloaded. I have this already installed through Microsoft Store, and that is why I see it is mentioned “Launch” instead of download in the below screenshot;
You can use this option easily if you have Windows 10 on your machine.
Power BI Desktop; Separate Download Link
Another way to get Power BI Desktop is to download it from this link.
You can simply download the file and install it on your machine.
Auto-Update: Microsoft Store App
Now that you know the two methods that Power BI Desktop can be available, let’s see the difference. The first difference is that the Microsoft Store version of Power BI Desktop updates automatically. As soon as a new update is available from Power BI Team, the application automatically updates itself to the latest version and you don’t need to do any extra actions to keep it up-to-date.
Power BI team updates the Power BI Desktop tool every month, and keeping that manually up-to-date is a big hassle. So if you want to be always on the edge of updates and enjoy the fascinating new features announced every month, considering getting the Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Store.
Flexibility on Install: Download Link
One of the problems of the Microsoft Store version of Power BI Desktop is that it is not available for all versions of Windows. For some versions, you can only use the download link. Another scenario is that for some reason, someone might want to use an older version of Power BI Desktop for their report development work. Using the Microsoft Store app wouldn’t allow it usually, because it automatically updates. so you will have more flexibility on what you want to have installed and where you want this to be installed using the download link.
Development Work: Both the Same
In terms of building the report, there is no difference between the two versions (if we consider that both versions are up-to-date). You can build exactly the same report using any of these two methods. There will be no difference in the Power BI file (*.PBIX file) that is created using any of these methods. You can open a file created with any of these, using the other one (as long as they are both up-to-date).
Power BI Desktop Report Server is Different
There is another tool with almost the same name as Power BI Desktop but called as Power BI Desktop Report Server. This is the report development tool that only supports reports to be published into Power BI Report Server (which is an on-premises solution for Power BI). This tool is only available through a download link, and there is not Microsoft Store app version for that yet. This tool gets updated every four months, and some of the features of Power BI Desktop is not available for it. To learn more in detail about their differences read my article here.
In summary, there is no difference in developing reports between the two different methods of accessing Power BI Desktop as long as they are both up-to-date. The Microsoft Store version of Power BI Desktop gives you a hassle-free auto-update, versus the download link, gives you the flexibility to install it everywhere you want. Power BI Desktop Report Server is also a version of the application used to build reports for the on-premises version of Power BI.