Microsoft's new Power BI service to be generally available starting July 24

Microsoft's updated Power BI 2.0 business-intelligence service will be generally available worldwide starting July 24.

Microsoft's updated version of its Power BI business-intelligence service will be generally available, as of July 24.

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The new version of Power BI will replace the current Power BI for Office 365 service. The new accompanying tool for the updated Power BI service, now known as Power BI Desktop (formerly Power BI Designer), also will be available starting July 24, Microsoft officials said on July 10.

The new version of Power BI doesn't require an Office 365 subscription. Users can access it from either the free Power BI apps that it is building or from inside a browser. Those using the existing Power BI Windows app will see that app replaced by an updated one, though the existing app will still be available to those who need it.

There are two tiers of service: A free version and a paid, $9.99 per month/per user one. A chart detailing the differences between the tiers is here; differences center around data-refresh rates and collaboration capabilities. Both tiers will be available to any and all interested parties worldwide starting July 24.

The idea of the updated Power BI service is to enable business users to benefit from business-intelligence and analytics without requiring analysts or other middlemen to set up or model the service and data, said James Phillips, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Business Intelligence Product group.

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In the six months the updated Power BI service has been in public preview, 45,000 companies in 180 countries have signed up to test it, Phillips said.

"This is a real-time service. It's not a backward-looking historical thing," Phillips said.

The new service also is designed to be hybrid, so that users can opt to leave data in their data centers but use that data in conjunction with Power BI, he said. Users have the option of putting different "faces" on this data, Phillips said, citing Apache Spark as an example of such a face, or front-end.

Speaking of Apache Spark, as of today, July 10, Microsoft is making a public preview of Spark on its HDInsight Hadoop-on-Azure service publicly available.

Microsoft also is open-sourcing its Power BI visualization stack and all associated visualizations as of today. The GitHub repo for Power BI is live today, allowing users to create custom visuals they can use inside Power BI and Power BI desktop.

The company also is releasing an Android Power BI client app in the Google Play store, officials said today.

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