Power BI service per-user and capacity-based licenses

There are three kinds of Power BI per-user licenses: Free, Pro, and Premium Per User (PPU). Which type of license you need is determined by where your content is stored, how you'll interact with that content, and if that content uses Premium features. The other type of license is a Premium capacity-based license. PPU and Pro users with access to a Power BI Premium capacity-based license, can create content in workspaces that are assigned to Premium capacity. PPU and Pro users can then grant colleagues, including free users, access to those Premium workspaces.

Note

A Premium Per User (PPU) workspace is not the same as a Premium capacity workspace.

Power BI service licenses

The important distinction to understand about licenses is that there are licenses that apply to an individual (per-user) and a license (often also referred to as a subscription) that applies to the type of storage capacity that an organization purchases. Each of the three per-user licenses is unique, and each grants access to certain Power BI service features and capabilities. When you combine the features and capabilities of each type of per-user license with the use of a Premium capacity, that is where Pro, PPU, and free license holders gain access to additional features and capabilities - such as sharing, collaboration, and more.

Free per-user license

Users with free licenses can use the Power BI service to connect to data and create reports and dashboards for their own use. They can't use the Power BI sharing or collaborating features with others, or publish content to other people's workspaces. However, Pro and PPU users can share content and collaborate with free users if the content is saved in workspaces hosted in Premium capacity. To learn more about workspaces, see Types of workspaces. To learn more about features available to users with a free license, see Power BI service feature list.

Pro license

Power BI Pro is an individual per-user license that lets users create content and also read, and interact with content that others have published to the Power BI service. Users with this license type can share content and collaborate with other Power BI Pro users. Only Power BI Pro users can publish or share content with other Pro users or consume content that's created by other Pro users, unless a Power BI Premium capacity hosts that content. If a Power BI Premium capacity hosts the content, then Pro users can share content and collaborate with free and PPU users too.

Premium per user (PPU) license

A PPU per-user license provides the license holder with all of the capabilities of Power BI Pro plus access to most Premium capacity-based features. A Power BI PPU license unlocks access to a variety of features, capabilities, and types of content that are only available through Premium. This access is limited to the PPU license holder and other colleagues who also have a PPU license. For example, in order to collaborate and share content in a PPU workspace, all users must have a PPU license.

When using a PPU license, content created by a PPU licensed user can only be shared with other users that have a PPU license, unless that content is specifically put in a workspace hosted in Premium capacity. The table below summarizes the basic capabilities of each license type.

Premium capacity

A capacity-based Premium license (often referred to as a Premium subscription) allows Pro or PPU users to create and save content in Premium capacity workspaces. They can then share that workspace with colleagues who have any license type. Only users with a Pro or PPU license can create and save content in Premium capacities, and only if their organization has purchased Premium capacity.

To discover more about Power BI Premium, see What is Power BI Premium?

License type Capabilities when workspace is in shared capacity Additional capabilities when workspace is in Premium capacity
Power BI (free) Access to content they create for themselves. Consume content shared with them by Pro or PPU users
Power BI Pro Publish content to other workspaces, share dashboards, subscribe to dashboards and reports, share with users who have a Pro license Distribute content to users who have free or PPU licenses
Power BI Premium Per User (PPU) Publish content to other workspaces, share dashboards, subscribe to dashboards and reports, share with users who have a PPU license Distribute content to users who have free and Pro licenses

For a comparison of Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium, see the Power BI features comparison section of Power BI pricing.

Note

Power BI has released Power BI Premium Gen2, which improves the Power BI Premium experience with improvements in the following:

  • Performance
  • Per-user licensing. See Power BI Premium Per User for more information.
  • Greater scale
  • Improved metrics
  • Autoscaling
  • Reduced management overhead

For more information about Power BI Premium Gen2, see What is Power BI Premium Gen2?.

To learn more about the capabilities your license provides, see Feature availability for users with free licenses and Types of licenses for Power BI consumers.

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