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.
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.
"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.
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.