by Lee Ellis Microsoft Dynamics Consultant

Getting Started with Microsoft Power BI Desktop

The Microsoft Power Platform (Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps) has a wealth of business benefits. Infinity Group have a dedicated team of Microsoft Power Platform Consultants to help our customers implement and fully utilise these brilliant tools and applications. Here we share a quick guide to get you started with Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

The two questions we hear most about Microsoft Power BI are:

Is Power BI free?

And

How do I get started using Power BI?

In this blog we will answer both these questions and walk you through how to get started to enable you to start benefiting from Power BI, an impressive business intelligence and visualisation tool.

Is Microsoft Power BI free?

The Microsoft Power BI Desktop application is free to download and use. Microsoft Power BI Desktop allows you to access data, create data models, perform advanced analysis on data, and create fully customisable reports which you can then publish to the Power BI online platform and share reports publicly on the internet without any additional charge.

To get started, you will need to sign in using a work email address.

There are some limitations regarding sharing and exporting – free and non-licensed users are unable to publish their reports to Microsoft SharePoint or to Premium and cannot export reports to PowerPoint/CSV.

The Power BI Desktop is a very powerful free tool and smaller companies that do not need to share reports internally can still get great benefit from using Power BI. There is a link at the end of the post to a step-by-step walk through from Microsoft for building your first report.

When do you need to pay for a licence?

A paid Power BI license is only required when you want to start sharing reports with other BI users in your tenant, or if you exceed the free storage quota. We are not covering the paid licenses here as this post is all about getting started for free.

How do I get started using Power BI?

Firstly you need to download and install the Power BI Desktop application

Download Power BI Desktop

  • Click here and download the application Or; See download or language options if you want to download a specific version. Or; if you are using Windows 10 – go to the Microsoft Store and search for Power BI
  • Then install the application

Secondly you need to connect Power BI Desktop to a data source

Power BI can connect to many data sources, click here to view the extensive list of connectors that are provided out of the box.

Get some data – to do this open Power BI and click ‘Get Data’ on the splash screen.

 

Then choose a data source

 

Next you can prepare your data for consumption.

Please note: This step is not even necessary if your data is already in good shape but there are many advanced options for manipulating your data if required.

Prepare your data – Use Power Query to prepare and transform your data

There are hundreds of functions available to manipulate you data before loading it into the data model including Filtering and data cleansing plus you can add additional condition columns.

Next you can perform some modelling

This step is also optional if you are analysing a simple dataset from Excel for example.

Start modelling your data by adding a relationship between tables, creating measures to perform specific calculations, creating calculated tables and columns.

Now you are ready to create your first report

First you need to visualise your data. You have two options in doing this. You can select visuals from the standard visuals.

Or select custom visuals from App Source

Then you can easily drag and drop visuals onto the report canvas, drag and drop data fields onto the visuals and format the visuals.

Summary

Download the free Power BI Desktop application, point it at your data, and then manipulate that data by creating charts, visualisations, and reports that will allow you to draw out powerful insights with the correct analysis.

We have a simple public report that displays results of a Power BI Survey. Please feel free to take a look and submit a response to the survey.

Next steps

Once you have completed the above actions, here is a link to walk you through the steps for building your first Power BI Report

We hope you found this getting started with Power BI guide useful, if you would like to find out more about the Power Platform please get in touch.