Difference Between Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium, Power BI Report Server


There are currently countless solutions in the Power BI environment. In addition, there are always new solutions and opportunities. Have you ever lost track of things? Sometimes it even happens to me. A good example is that you have to develop pixel-perfect reports for Power BI Premium with the Power BI Report Builder and for Power BI Report Server you have to use the Microsoft Report Builder. For this blog article I have dealt with the topic of different solutions in the Power BI environment and in this article I try to bring a little structure into this topic and answer the following questions:

What are the Differences Between Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium, Power BI Report Server? The most important features are to be roughly described in the same context.

  • When is Power BI Premium worthwhile?
  • How Does Power BI Embedded Fit into This Overall Picture?


The focus here is on the entire Power BI product range and not just on the modeling properties. In the end I would like to conclude with a conclusion. This should reflect what is shown again. Let me know unabashedly in the comment if I managed to shed some light on the issue or if you still have some questions.

What are the differences between Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium, Power BI Report Server?

The easiest way to show the differences between Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium and Power BI Report Server is a table. So you can pick a feature and see directly in which versions it is available. This table is not exhaustive. The most important point in the comparison is the fact that Microsoft has a strategy to implement the latest features and fixes in Power BI Cloud version first.

The graphic shows this relationship of the Microsoft strategy in a visual form. The top product should be Power BI Premium. Most of the core functions are only implemented last in the Power BI Report Server. But there are also some functions that never arrive in the Power BI Report Server. In addition, some features are only exclusive to Power BI Premium, the primary Power BI product. You can also see that the cloud version is preferred because the release cycles of Power BI 3-4 are higher than with the Power BI Report Server.

Of course, one of the central points of a BI strategy is whether you want to go to the cloud or stay in-house for legal reasons, for example. Of course, this option then considerably limits the finding of a solution. However, Power BI Service will also be available in the Swiss cloud in 2020, so at least the cloud question will be somewhat mitigated, since the data center will then be on Swiss soil.

Power BI in the cloud offers the Analyze functionality in Excel. Here you can export the data dynamically and compile a list according to your taste. You also have no line limits as with the Power BI export function. If that is not enough and you need a complete data export, then so-called paginated reports are available. Microsoft describes Paginated Reports as follows: “These reports are highly formatted, pixel-perfect output optimized for printing or PDF generation. They’re called ‘paginated’ because they’re formatted to fit well on multiple pages. Paginated reports are based on the RDL report technology in SQL Server Reporting Services”. The products Power BI Premium, Power BI Pro and Power BI Report Server differ here. Only Power BI Premium offers the solution integrated in the cloud. Power BI Pro does not offer an integrated solution at this point. The Power BI Report Server offers the combination of Paginated Reports and Power BI reports directly. Something new that I learned myself is that part of the memory in Power BI Premium is reserved for paginated reports. In the default mode, this is 20% of the memory on the dedicated capacity.

The Paginated Reports version of Power BI Premium does not currently support all features of paginated reports in Reporting Services or Power BI Report Server. The following features are currently not available:

  • Shared Data Sources.
  • Shared Datasets.
  • Sub Reports.
  • Drill Through and Click-Through to Other Reports.
  • Linked Reports.
  • Bing Map Layers.
  • Custom Fonts.
  • It Is Recommended That You Take These Points into Account In An Evaluation.


Microsoft knows the term dashboard in the Power BI Service (Pro and Premium). At Code Creators, we understand dashboards as composite dashboards. This means that elements of reports (which can also be a dashboard per se) can be published on a higher-level dashboard. These composite dashboards then enable end users to navigate down in sub-dashboards or reports. It is quite possible to build a Power BI dashboard with Paginated Reports.

An important point in a comparison is of course the cost. Power BI Service or Pro basically only needs a Power BI Pro license. You can buy these for $10.- per month per user. With a starting price of around $5,000 per month, Power BI Premium is considerably more expensive. On the Microsoft website you will find a calculator, which shows what Power BI costs. In addition to the $5000 per month, you also have to purchase developer licenses (Power BI Pro). If, for example, you have 100 report builders in your concept, you have to reckon with an extra $1,000 per month. The advantage of a Power BI Premium license is that report consumers in Power BI are free. If a SQL Server Enterprise license is already in the house, you can install the Power BI Report Server. Otherwise you have to acquire the corresponding license, if you do not have a contract with Microsoft. A direct purchase of SQL Server 2017 costs about $14,000 without discounts for two cores. The report server is only available if you have completed the software maintenance. You also have to purchase Power BI Pro licenses for the development of the Power BI reports. When purchasing Power BI Premium, the Power BI Report Server is included free of charge. So you can also drive a two-pronged strategy.

An important differentiating factor is that Power BI Pro does not allow classic exports to Excel. That means that if you want to see a report in Power BI 1: 1 that doesn’t work. Here you have to choose either Power BI Premium or Power BI Report Server.

Power BI Pro offers eight automatic data updates per day. You can also manually update the corresponding dataset after us. With Power BI Premium you get 48 updates here. This is Microsoft’s standard way. However, there are other technical solutions such as Power Automate, where you can set the number of automated updates without restriction. We’ll gladly assist you.

If you choose Power BI Premium, you can still use certain artificial intelligence algorithms in the field of data preparation, for example within Power Query. This feature is reserved exclusively for Power BI Premium.

From a governance perspective, it can be crucial to use your own key to encrypt the data. Only Power BI Premium currently supports this. For example, Power BI Pro only offers a so-called managed key at this point. This key is managed by Microsoft.

When Is Power BI Premium Worthwhile?

An important question is when to order Power BI Premium. The first reason could be a high number of users to be licensed or you would like to use a certain feature such as AI, which is only available in Premium. Another example is the announced hosting in Switzerland. With regard to a large number of users to be licensed, you can buy around 500 Pro licenses for a Power Premium license in the cheapest version. However, one must not forget that Pro licenses are also required for Premium. In summary, Power BI Premium is only worthwhile for companies where several hundred active users need Power BI and want to use additional exclusive features of Power BI Premium.

How Does Power BI Embedded Fit into This Picture?

According to Microsoft’s strategy, Power BI Embedded is primarily for independent software manufacturers or software developers who want to supplement their products with Power BI reports. In principle, Power BI Embedded functions exactly the same as Power BI Premium, only it is cheaper on the one hand, but at the same time it requires that the Power BI reports are called up via the software manufacturer’s web application or simply “embedded”.


The most important point is that you have to make a strategic decision whether you want to go with the business data to the cloud or have it on premise for governance reasons. Other decision factors can of course also be costs, data protection and the functionalities described above.

I hope this article has helped you to get a better overview in this Power BI thicket. Even as an expert, I learned a few points when I wrote the blog article and I hope you will too. Code Creators Inc stays on the ball for you and keeps you up to date with other blogs and reviews. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.