Licensing the Power BI service for users in your organization

Everyone who uses the Power BI service must have a license. What a user can do depends on the type of per-user license that they have. Licenses are Fabric free, Power BI Pro, or Power BI Premium Per User (PPU). The level of access provided by their license depends on whether the workspace is a Premium workspace or not.

There are two ways for users to get a license, from an administrator or self-service. Self-service sign up capabilities and a work or school email account are needed for users to get their own free, Pro, or Premium Per User license. Administrators can get a Power BI license subscription and then assign licenses to users.

This article is for administrators who can purchase services and per-user licensing. For more information about how users can get their own license, see Signing up for Power BI as an individual.

Who can purchase and assign licenses

You must belong to an admin role to purchase or assign licenses for your organization. Admin roles are assigned from the Azure Active Directory admin center or the Microsoft 365 admin center. For more information about admin roles in Azure Active Directory, see View and assign administrator roles in Azure Active Directory. To learn more about admin roles in Microsoft 365, including best practices, see About admin roles.

The following roles are required to manage licensing for an organization.

  • To purchase services and licenses:
    • Billing administrator
    • Global administrator
  • To manage user licenses:
    • License administrator
    • User administrator
    • Global administrator

For information about Power BI service admin roles, see Understanding Power BI administration roles.

Get Power BI for your organization

For information about pricing, see Pricing & Product Comparison.

If you're not ready to purchase, select the Power BI Pro trial. You'll get 25 licenses to use for one month. For step-by-step instructions on how to sign up, see Get a Power BI subscription for your organization.

About self-service sign-up

Individual users can get their own Power BI license by signing up with their work or school email account. With a Fabric free license, users can explore Power BI for personal data analysis and visualization using My Workspace, but they can't share content with others. A Power BI Pro or Power BI Premium Per User (PPU) license is required before users can share content. For descriptions of the license types, see license types for the Power BI service.

Users can upgrade their license type, or sign up for a different license directly, if the organization is using the commercial cloud. Direct purchase, or upgrade to Pro isn't available to educational organizations or organizations deployed to Azure Government or Azure China 21Vianet clouds.

Turning off self-service sign-up keeps users from exploring Power BI. If you block individual sign-up, you may want to get Fabric free licenses for your organization and assign them to all users.

To assign a Fabric free license to all existing users:

  1. From your global admin or billing admin account, sign in to the Microsoft 365 admin center.

  2. On the navigation menu, select Billing and then select Purchase services.

  3. Search or scroll to locate the Power BI (free) offer. Select Details.

  4. Select the number of licenses you want, and then select Buy.

    Screenshot showing the Fabric free subscription dialog.

  5. Complete the information on the Checkout page, and then select Place order.

  6. Select Licenses from the left sidebar, and then select Fabric (free) from the subscriptions.

  7. Select Assign licenses and assign the licenses to users.

To see which users in your organization already have a license, see View and manage user licenses.

License types and capabilities

There are three kinds of Power BI per-user licenses: Fabric free, Pro, and Premium Per User (PPU). The type of license a user needs is determined by where content is stored, how they'll interact with that content, and if that content uses Premium features. Where an organization stores content is determined by subscription license type.

One type of organizational subscription, Power BI Premium, is a capacity-based license. Premium capacity allows users with Pro and PPU licenses to share content and collaborate with others who have free, Pro, and PPU licenses.

For detailed information about licensing, see Licenses for the Power BI.

Content created by a user who is assigned a PPU license can only be shared with other users who have a PPU license. Content that is saved in a workspace hosted with Premium capacity can be shared with users who don't have a PPU license. For a detailed breakdown of feature availability per license type, see Features by license type.

Subscription license types

All user-based, commercial licenses from Microsoft are based on Azure Active Directory identities. To use the Power BI service, sign in with an identity that Azure Active Directory supports for commercial licenses. You can add Power BI to any Microsoft license that uses Azure Active Directory for identity services. Some licenses, such as Office 365 E5, include a Power BI Pro license.

There are two kinds of Power BI subscription licenses for organizations: standard and premium.

  • Standard - With a standard, self-service Power BI subscription, administrators can assign per user licenses. There's a per user monthly fee for Power BI Pro licenses. This license type enables collaboration, publishing, sharing, and ad-hoc analysis. Content is saved to shared storage capacity that is fully managed by Microsoft.
  • Premium - A Power BI Premium subscription license allocates a capacity to an organization. This subscription type is suitable for enterprise BI, big data analytics, cloud and on-premises reporting. Premium provides advanced administration and deployment controls. Reserved compute and storage resources are managed by capacity admins in your organization. There's a monthly cost for this reserved environment. In addition to other Premium advantages, content stored in Premium capacity can be accessed by and distributed to users who don't have Power BI Pro licenses. At least one user must have a Power BI Pro license assigned to use Premium, and content creators and developers need a Power BI Pro license.

The two types of subscriptions aren't mutually exclusive. You can have both Power BI Premium and standard. In this configuration, content stored in Premium capacity can be shared with all users and shared capacity is available. For information about capacity limits, see Manage data storage in Power BI workspaces.

To compare product features and pricing, see Power BI pricing.

Guest user access

You might want to distribute content to users who are outside of your organization. You can share content with external users by inviting them to view content as a guest. Azure Active Directory Business-to-business (Azure AD B2B) enables sharing with external guest users. Prerequisites:

  • The ability to share content with external users must be enabled

  • The guest user must have the proper licensing in place to view the shared content

For more information about guest user access, see Distribute Power BI content to external guest users with Azure AD B2B.

Purchase Power BI Pro licenses

As an administrator, you can purchase Power BI Pro licenses through Microsoft 365 or through a Microsoft partner. After your purchase, you can assign them to individual users. For more information, see Purchase and assign Power BI Pro licenses.

Power BI license expiration

There's a grace period after a Power BI license expires. For licenses that are part of a volume license purchase, the grace period is 90 days. If you bought the license directly, the grace period is 30 days.

Power BI has the same license lifecycle as Microsoft 365. For more information, see What happens to my data and access when my Microsoft 365 for business subscription ends.

Next steps