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) is the Software as a Service (SaaS) part of Power BI. The Power BI service lets you consume and interact with reports, as well as individual visual elements found in those reports, right from your browser. Dashboards in the Power BI service 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 create their interactive visuals based on the semantic models on which they are based, enabling your data to become visuals, and those visuals to be organized into reports to provide you with business intelligence you can act upon.

Need help with understanding the building blocks that make up Power BI? See Basic concepts for designers in the Power BI service.

The other main components of Power BI are Power BI Desktop - a Windows app you can download for free and use to create reports - and Power BI Mobile apps available for 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. Users of the Power BI service and mobile devices can view and interact with the reports and dashboards you've created and shared.

The ability 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 semantic models 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.

How Microsoft Fabric works with Power BI

Microsoft Fabric is an offering that combines data + services in a unified environment, making it easier to perform analysis and analytics on various sets of data. Power BI is an example of one of the services that's integrated with Microsoft Fabric, and your organization's OneLake data store is an example of the data that can be used, analyzed, or visualized. Large organizations find Microsoft Fabric particularly useful, since it can corral and then bring greater value to large stores of data, then using services (like Power BI) to bring such data to business life.

Administration of Power BI is now handled by Microsoft Fabric, but your favorite tools like the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop still operate like they always have - as a service that can turn your data, whether in OneLake or in Excel, into powerful business intelligence insights.

The following articles can help you understand how Power BI Desktop fits into Microsoft's offerings:

Here are some additional articles that can help you get going with the Power BI service: