MSBI vs Power BI: Understand the differences

As long as data transformation is highly demanded, Business Intelligence shall be on the top in demand fields of data management. Better the tools, higher the results we can yield through them. These tools are helpful in the creation of attractive visualizations, accessing data points and integrating the compiled reports followed by analyzing them. With every passing day there is an exponential increase in data. To handle data for various organizations effectively, key is to bring the BI tools to action. Some of the most demanded tools today in business intelligence are Power BI and MSBI. Getting proper training on Power BI can be useful for individuals as well as organizations. These two are top-rated services in the data managing world. In this article we shall be comparing these two services in detail and will shed light into the benefits and features of both.

So, let the battle begin between the two systems.

The prominent difference between these two lies in their deployment method. power bi is a cloud-based software which is presented on the vendor’s servers and its accessibility is through a web browser. On the other hand, MSBI is on-premises software which is installed locally on a firm’s own server.

Differentiating Factors between MSBI and Power BI:

Mentioned below are the factors upon which MSBI and Power BI will be differentiated in this article.

  • Description
  • Execution
  • Working mechanism
  • Components
  • User experience
  • Features
  • Data handling
  • Main users
  • License


MSBI is a product of Microsoft which is used to produce reports of SQL-based data by using SSRS. It is a comprehensive platform that blends data processing and programming interfaces for the purpose of testing and deploying reports on the server.

We define Power BI as a collection of business intelligence tools and procedures that enables users to extract raw data from various sources and create dashboards to get better understanding of the data. It also allows users to generate reports and share them with other business users on the cloud.

Execution of MSBI vs Power BI:

The way of deployment of both BI systems creates a prominent difference between these two. If we talk about MSBI, we say it is an on-premises software which users can install on local servers and computer systems. While Power BI is a service that is cloud-based which is hosted on the vendor’s servers that can be accessed by users through web browsers, applications, and software?

Components provided by MSBI vs Power BI:

Both have various components which helps users in implementing the ETL capabilities. For extracting and analyzing data, MSBI has SSIS and SSAS to use, whereas Power BI offers tools as Power Query and Power BI Service which are helpful in implementing capabilities. Power BI’s another component is Power BI mobile apps that lets users to view and create dashboards on mobile apps.

Working Mechanism:

With a rapid increase in cloud-based services, risks of data theft and other issues come into play more often nowadays. Most of the IT leaders are of the view that the increasing cloud-based services might turn out to be a security nightmare for them. In this regard, MSBI has reduced many problems relevant to information security and cloud production as an on-premises service.

On the reverse side, your data remains safe in cloud even if some hardware failure occurs in your premises. Power BI professional offers many features related to cloud that helps users to access data and share reports online.

Features of MSBI vs Power BI:

MSBI is a cost effective, easy to install and user-friendly solution in creating reports and dashboards. It also offers end to end business solutions and easy integration tools while Power BI  is loaded with millions of attractive data visualizations. It offers data set filtrations to search for a particular data. It has other features like DAX analysis functions, feedback and help buttons which makes creating reports easier for the users. Moreover, users can also customize their dashboards very easily by using different graphical forms for data representation.

User Experience:

In context of user experiences is comparatively hard to use and is more manual in comparison with the modern BI software. It was developed in the year 2004 when user experience was not considered much important. While on the other hand, Power BI was developed in the year 2017 with  an aim to provide a simpler and easier interface which can be used by a nontechnical user  and such users can create reports and dashboards easily with the Power BI.

Handling of data in MSBI vs Power BI:

When discussing the data handling of both the tools, we see that MSBI keeps the data engine more relaxed and doesn’t stress the engine out as it deals only with the structured and semi-structured data. You can create much larger reports by SSRS offered by MSBI as compared to Power BI.

In contrary, Power BI can manage all the three types of data i.e. structured, semi-structures and unstructured data within the volume limit of 33000rows or 10 MB of data. If your file is of larger size, then you can directly run queries by using Power Query offered by Power Bi and get your desired results.

Main users of MSBI and Power BI:

For business analysts, MSBI is a game play, while Power BI is for the convenience of non-technical users to operate raw data easily without any need of coding it.

Licensing of MSBI vs Power BI:

MSBI lets the users to use its free version for up to 180 days. After this much time, the users are supposed to pay US$931 to use it.

On the other hand, Power BI’s free version lasts for only 60 days after which the users must pay US 9.99 to use it.

Concluding Remarks:

To sum up, it can be said that BI tools tracks market trends and give some logical insights for the business in taking the right decisions. Both MSBI and Power BI help users in creating interactive data insights. Both are used by IT professionals, data analysts, and business analysts and even by the company heads to help them grow their business tremendously. MSBI has taken office space for quite a long time, but now Power BI is outshining its presence. MSBI is a cost effective, good solution to use reports on-premises, but reports created in Power BI are more dynamic and easier to understand. Therefore, we can conclude that Power BI is relatively more preferable over MSBI.