Power BI was named a leader in the Gartner magic quadrant again this year. (Be sure to check out our interactive analysis of the Magic quadrant here.) A major factor of Power BI’s success has been the dedication by Microsoft to continuously improve the Power BI product suite with updates that are demand-driven and consistent.
We were planning on releasing future installments of this blog series on a monthly cadence, however, updates started off a little slow this year with no monthly update to the Power BI Desktop product in January and just a few updates in February, so we decided to include all updates from Q1 of 2021 in this post.
Power BI Consumers
New Power BI Icons
The latest version of Power BI icons has been released so keep your eyes peeled for these new, more stylized images.
Users that are still using the legacy version of the Microsoft Edge browser need to update their browser by March 9th, 2021 and users using Internet Explorer 11 need to upgrade by August 17, 2021 as Power BI will no longer support these. You should plan on keeping your browsers up to date anyways to ensure maximum performance while interacting with content in the Power BI Service.
Updated Subscription Attachments (Premium Feature)
Currently for Pro licensed users, you can only subscribe to one page of a report per subscription. This is a limitation if you have multiple pages in your report and you or a recipient want all the pages in the report included. However, with this latest update, subscriptions to reports in an Upgraded V2 Premium or Premium Per User workspace can be configured to include a full version of the report as a PDF or PowerPoint attachment. In addition, you can also subscribe other users in your organization, but the data sent to others will be based on your permissions so if you have row-level security in place, be cautious of this.
Power BI Designers
Datasets Hub in PBI Service (Preview Feature)
Easily explore all the Datasets you have access to in the new Dataset Hub in the Power BI Service and in the Power BI App for Teams. With this new dataset details portal in Power BI, you can quickly get important metadata such as the last refreshed date, endorsement information (i.e. promoted vs certified), lineage information to show data sources (i.e. SQL or Analysis Services servers), and view which reports are built from the datasets as well as usage metrics per report.
New Release of Power BI Report Builder
Do not get too excited here. It is still the same Report Builder from the early 2000s with a new name and a few new shiny buttons. The latest version of the PBI Report Builder application includes a similar publishing experience to publishing reports in PBI Desktop. There is now a Publish button on the home ribbon that allows you to quickly make changes to reports and save them back to a workspace in the PBI Service.
Search in Power BI Desktop
While the number of new features and properties that have been added to the Power BI Desktop over the past 6 years has been incredible, it also makes it harder for new users (and veterans) to find what they are looking for. The new search feature in PBI desktop is very useful for navigating the increasingly complex UI.
Change Log for Power BI Desktop
Over the past few years, many people have asked why there is an update notification in the PBI desktop even though they have downloaded the last monthly release. The answer to this is the PBI team releases different versions outside of the monthly cadence to fix bugs and other issues. There is now a Change Log for all the known fixes that you can use to track specifics of different versions.
Note: If you download installation files from Microsoft to install PBI Desktop, you will have to manually keep downloading the latest version. The preferred method is to install PBI Desktop from the Microsoft Store so that new releases are automatically downloaded and installed for you.
You can see an archive of all the past PBI updates here.
Power BI Admins & Content Managers
Power BI Premium Per User Licensing (PPU) (Preview Feature) (Premium Feature)
We covered this update back in December but now we have more clarity on pricing and availability. One of the biggest complaints about Power BI Premium for the past several years has been the cost barrier to entry for small to medium sized companies, however, this has been resolved with the announcement that PPU will cost $20 per user with existing Power BI Pro users only having to pay an additional $10 per user.
Read/Write XMLA Endpoints are Generally Available (Premium Feature)
With XMLA endpoints, developers can connect to the Analysis Services engine powering datasets in the Power BI Service. This allows users to connect enterprise BI tools such as Visual Studio (SSDT), SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Tabular Editor, DAX Studio, and many others directly to Power BI datasets in the Service enabling application lifecycle management, governance, debugging, and monitoring all within the Power BI ecosystem.