What is the Power BI service?

Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to help you create, share, and consume business insights in the way that serves you and your business most effectively. The Microsoft Power BI service (https://app.powerbi.com), sometimes referred to as Power BI online, is the software as a service (SaaS) part of Power BI. In the Power BI service, dashboards help you keep a finger on the pulse of your business. Dashboards display tiles, which you can select to open reports for exploring further. Dashboards and reports connect to datasets that bring all of the relevant data together in one place.

Need help with understanding the building blocks that make up Power BI? See Basic concepts for designers in the Power BI service. Or visit our playlist on YouTube. A good video to start with is Introduction to the Power BI service:


This video might use earlier versions of Power BI Desktop or the Power BI service.

The other main components of Power BI are the Windows desktop application Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android devices. You and your colleagues can use these three elements—Power BI Desktop, the service, and the mobile apps—to create, share, and consume business insights. Read What is Power BI? for an overview.

Creating reports in the service

In a typical Power BI workflow, you begin by building a report in Power BI Desktop, then publishing it to the Power BI service.

This workflow is common, but you can also create Power BI reports right in the Power BI service. Do you have a subscription to a SaaS application like Salesforce? Power BI has apps that automatically create dashboards and reports from your online data. Get a head start by connecting to Salesforce or check out the other SaaS apps you can connect to. If you're part of an organization, someone in your organization might have published apps and distributed them to you.

Sharing your findings

After you've created reports and dashboards, you can share them. End users in the Power BI service and mobile devices can view and interact with them. Being able to control how you share your work is one of the most important features of the Power BI service. You create workspaces where you and your colleagues can collaborate on reports and dashboards. Then you can bundle and distribute them as apps. You can also share the datasets themselves, so others can use them as a basis for their own reports. Read more about ways to collaborate and share your work in Power BI.

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