What is Premium Per User License for Power BI, and What is it good for?

One of the great news in Microsoft Ignite 2020 is the announcement of a new licensing plan for Microsoft Power BI, called Premium Per User, or Premium Gen2. In this article, I’ll explain what that is, and how this can be helpful for Power BI users.

Power BI Licensing

To understand the Premium Per User licensing, we need to take a quick look at what other licensing options are.

Per user Pro

One of the most common licensing options is the Power BI pro account. This is giving the user enough access to do *almost* anything they want in the world of Power BI development, building solutions, creating workspaces in the service, sharing the content to the users, etc. This licensing is priced $9.99 USD per user per month.

Premium: capacity-based

Another popular option is to purchase a dedicated capacity (a dedicated node of certain amount of CPU cores and RAM power) to host the Power BI content on it. The dedicated capacity comes not only with a better performance, but also, with extra features. Such as using AI abilities, some extra features in the dataflow development, geo replicas for the data model, paginated reports and many other features. Dedicated capacity comes in two modes; embedded, and Premium. and the minimum entry for Premium is $4,995 USD per node.

Learn more about the licensing

I highly recommend reading my articles (and video) about the licensing in Power BI, as it would give you a detailed analysis and look into the licensing options;

A gap: for small to medium scale businesses

The two main licensing plan of Power BI (premium and pro) are good for two ends of the users area.

Power BI premium vs Pro audiences

Power BI Premium is good for enterprise scale businesses with advanced analytics requirement, such as working with big data, building computed entities in the dataflow, leveraging AI functionalities, and requiring high performance for their big data analytics.

Power BI Pro is good enough to cover the analytics needs of a small to medium scale business with usual analytics requirement. Requirements such as getting data from multiple sources, combining it, building superb visualizations and sharing among a reasonable number of end-users.

The Pro and Premium separation works great for these two types of users. Pro is cheap enough to get every business started with analytics, and Premium is powerful enough to cover sophisticated analytics requirements. However, there is a third group of audience, which is missing from the graph above.

If we want to account for that third group, that would sit somewhere in between the other two;

a gap between premium and pro audiences

This third group is a group of small to medium scale business which have advanced analytics needs. Advanced analytics can be working with big data, requiring advanced dataflow scenarios, leveraging AI functionalities, using paginated reports and many other forms.

In my consulting and training experience with many clients, I dare to say this is not a rare group. In fact, this is a type of user that is very common. There are many businesses that are small to medium scale, yet they have some requirements that can’t be answered by merely using the Pro license of Power BI.

The problem with Premium capacity-based licensing for this group is that premium is too expensive. For a company with let’s say sometimes only 10 to 20 users, it is not reasonable to pay $4,995 per month for analytics. On the other hand, Pro is too limited. They want some features that are not available in this licensing. So here is the gap, and hence there should be a solution for it.

You can feel my excitement raising through this article. I was one of the people that always asked Microsoft Power BI team to do something with this gap, and I am glad my efforts ended up with a good effect.

Power BI Premium Per User: Part of the Premium Gen2

As you already guessed, the Premium Per User (or Gen2) is targeting exactly that kind of audience in the above diagram mentioned.

Power BI Premium Per User Gen2 licensing

The details of how much the licensing would cost are still to be determined, as the licensing would come later this year (2020). However, I don’t think that to be a big problem.

The main fact that a small scale business can pay for the analytics requirement with a per-user licensing will make it a worthwhile option. As an example, for a company with 10 users, paying $5K capacity-based pricing is like paying $500 per user. I don’t think the Premium Per User pricing be that expensive. And this means business with that scale could you advanced analytics features like an enterprise customer.

My view of this

I think this is one of the best things that is happening for Power BI in terms of both adoptions of this service, and also the community of users. Power BI is a powerful platform, having licensing options that cater to all kinds of audiences for it, is just helping the process of using it.

What is your thoughts on this? feel free to let me know in the comments below.


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Reza Rad
Trainer, Consultant, Mentor
Reza Rad is a Microsoft Regional Director, an Author, Trainer, Speaker and Consultant. He has a BSc in Computer engineering; he has more than 20 years’ experience in data analysis, BI, databases, programming, and development mostly on Microsoft technologies. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP for 12 continuous years (from 2011 till now) for his dedication in Microsoft BI. Reza is an active blogger and co-founder of RADACAD. Reza is also co-founder and co-organizer of Difinity conference in New Zealand, Power BI Summit, and Data Insight Summit.
Reza is author of more than 14 books on Microsoft Business Intelligence, most of these books are published under Power BI category. Among these are books such as Power BI DAX Simplified, Pro Power BI Architecture, Power BI from Rookie to Rock Star, Power Query books series, Row-Level Security in Power BI and etc.
He is an International Speaker in Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Business Applications Summit, Data Insight Summit, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday and SQL user groups. And He is a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
Reza’s passion is to help you find the best data solution, he is Data enthusiast.
His articles on different aspects of technologies, especially on MS BI, can be found on his blog: https://radacad.com/blog.

2 thoughts on “What is Premium Per User License for Power BI, and What is it good for?

  • Wow! Finally MS is making it.
    The company I work for, has a Microsoft 365 subscription with power bi pro. Unfortunately, we’re facing an issue regarding the size of some reports we’re using. As a workaround, we have been forced to reduce the datasets by removing some historical data, to fit in the 1 GB limit. Purchasing a premium subscription wasn’t an option, too expense for just 15 users max. And I hope, the pricing of this new licence will be fair!

    Thanks for sharing this great news!

    • Thanks for sharing your scenario. I certainly believe this improvement would help many others who are facing the model size issue like you


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