power bi vs msbi
Updated on 27th May, 21 965 Views

For a business to run successfully, enterprises have to make tough decisions that impact their revenue and growth on an everyday basis. It is better to know what lies ahead and act accordingly. Well, Business Intelligence tools help you do just that by keeping the bad choices at bay using analytics. This blog talks about the two most important BI tools, Power BI and MSBI, and gives you an insight into which tool drives data in the right direction.

The following are discussed in the article:


What is MSBI?

Microsoft Business Intelligence (MSBI) is a product with ETL capabilities. It can visualize and organize multidimensional data, along with the extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) of data points. It basically transforms raw data into insightful business information.

MSBI has three main components to help the user implement the ETL capabilities:

  • SSIS/SQL Server Integration Service: The SSIS component works as a data integration service and performs some level of ETL capabilities. SSIS extracts the data from heterogeneous sources and transforms it into a structured manner.
  • SSAS/SQL Server Analytics Service: SSAS provides the OLAP service, which means that the user can do online analytic processing and find data patterns that may not be discovered by other data mining features built into the product.
  • SSRS/SQL Server Reporting Service: SSRS allows the user to create server-based reports. It is a part of Microsoft SQL Server Services that can be accessed through web interfaces for preparing visuals and printed reports.

Check out this video by Intellipaat to know more about MSBI:


What is Power BI?

This Business Intelligence tool from Microsoft provides various modeling capabilities such as data discovery, data preparation, and the creation of interactive dashboards. Power BI can help you make powerful business decisions. It can pull data in any form, be it images, videos, Excel sheets, or even a centralized database system, and visualize on top of it.

Power BI is divided into a couple of components:

  • Power BI Desktop: This free application upon installing on your desktop gives you the freedom to connect, modify, and visualize the data at hand. You can carry out data modeling by taking data from multiple sources, creating visuals and reports, and sharing them with others in your organization.
  • Power BI Service: It is a cloud service in the Microsoft cloud offerings, which eases the sharing and collaboration of summaries and reports. It helps bring all the relevant data to one place.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps: They let you use the service on the go and not wait to reach your desktop to start working. This facility is supported on Windows 10, Android, and iOS devices.

Check out this video to get a step closer to understanding Power BI:


Criteria Used to Differentiate Between MSBI and Power BI

With a wide range of options to choose from, it becomes often confusing to decide which one to pick. This differentiation will help you find the most befitting tool for your organization. The following are the parameters used to differentiate them:

  • Definition
  • Implementation: MSBI vs Power BI
  • Working mechanism
  • User experience
  • Benefits: MSBI vs Power BI
  • Data handling
  • Learning curve
  • License

Check out this Power BI Certification Training by Intellipaat to become a certified Power BI expert!


MSBI is a Microsoft product used to create reports of SQL Server-based data with the help of SSRS. It is a comprehensive platform that combines data processing and programming interfaces for testing and deploying reports on the server.

Power BI is a collection of Business Intelligence tools and processes that allows the user to extract raw information from varied sources and create dashboards or reports to get better insights out of it. With Power BI, a user can create reports and share them on the cloud with other business users and stakeholders.

Implementation: MSBI vs Power BI

The way MSBI and Power BI are deployed creates a huge difference between these two BI systems. MSBI is an on-premises software that a user can install on the local servers and computers. Whereas, Power BI is a cloud-based service hosted on the vendor’s servers, which the user can access through software, web browsers, and applications.

Both MSBI and Power BI have several components that help the user implement ETL capabilities. MSBI has SSIS and SSAS for extracting and analyzing data, while Power BI provides tools such as Power Query and Power BI Service to implement the capabilities.

Get in touch with Intellipaat to enroll in the MSBI Certification Course!

Working Mechanism

With the rise in cloud-based services, the risk of data theft and other problems come into play very often these days. Many IT leaders believe that these increasing cloud-based services could become a security nightmare for them. As an on-premises service, MSBI has reduced problems related to information security and cloud protection.

On the flip side, the cloud keeps your data safe even if there is a hardware failure in your on-premises facilities. Moreover, Power BI provides many cloud-related features that help you access the data and share the reports over the Internet.

User Experience

MSBI is a bit more difficult and manual as compared to modern BI software. It was developed by Microsoft in the year 2004, and user experience was not considered that important then. However, Power BI was developed in 2017 to provide a simple interface that even a non-technical user can understand and use to build reports or dashboards.

Go through these MSBI Interview Questions to excel in your Interview.

Benefits: MSBI vs Power BI

MSBI with SSRS follows a drill-down approach for detailed information based on certain factors, and this helps the user make better decisions and precisely measure the performance of a product in the market.

On the other hand, Power BI was designed to improve the capabilities of SSRS in MSBI and create a strong visual representation of data. Its data modeling capabilities and rich visuals allow even a non-technical user to make compelling reports and share them with other users.

Data Handling

When it comes to data handling, MSBI does not put much stress on the data engine as it deals with only structured and semi-structured data. You can create larger reports with SSRS as compared to Power BI.

However, Power BI can handle structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data within the capacity limit of 33,000 rows or 10 MB of data. If your file has more rows or larger size, you can run direct queries through Power Query and get the result.

Check out these Power BI Interview Questions  if you are preparing for a job interview.

Learning Curve

The AI features in Power BI allow the user to run queries by simply typing them in natural language. Also, its drag-and-drop feature helps you create stunning reports without knowing the background process of how the data is being transformed.

However, in MSBI, you have to code and design the reports from scratch. To work with MSBI, you should know data analysis and be able to code in languages such as SQL, Python, etc. In short, MSBI is gameplay for Business Analysts, while Power BI helps non-technical users easily manipulate raw information without any coding involved.


MSBI is available for 180 days as a free version. After that, the user needs to pay US$931. In the Pro version, MSBI charges US$10 per user every month, while the user has to pay US$5,000 for unlimited access in the Premium version.

The free version of Power BI, on the other hand, lasts up to 60 days, after which the user has to pay US$9.99 for every user. For Power BI Premium, the charges are US$20/user and US$4,995/capacity every single month.

However, Power BI has Power BI Desktop that allows users to create reports and share them online for free. It is best suited for small businesses and startups that cannot pay such amounts of money for these software and tools.

Go through the Qlikview tutorial to learn more about MDX Query in SSAS.


Difference Between MSBI and Power BI

Below are the key differences between Power BI and MSBI:

MSBIPower BI  
SSRS in MSBI integrates processing components and programming interfaces to test and deploy reportsPower BI is a collection of BI tools that allows users to transform raw business data into visual reports and share them on the cloud
It is an on-premises software, i.e., it cannot access the data from cloud storageIt can access the data from both on-premises and cloud storage
MSBI has a drill-down capacity that helps the user focus on categorized data in a detailed mannerPower BI has better visualizations and data modeling tools for higher-level visual representation
It can handle larger datasets without stressing out the data engine It can handle data up to 10 MB or 33,000 rows. If the data exceeds the limit, users have to run direct queries on the system
SSRS can only be used to create reports and visualizationsPower BI allows users to create reports, data models, and dashboards that can be accessed via Power BI Apps and other web browsers
MSBI requires prior knowledge of data analysis and programmingPower BI provides AI features that help even non-technical users create reports by writing queries in a natural language


Business Intelligence tracks market trends and draws meaningful insights for enterprises to make the right decisions. Different tools are widely used by Data Analysts, IT professionals, and even the heads of companies that keep them on their toes. Power BI is the most sought-after tool when it comes to visualizing complex data and providing a deeper understanding of the business. Even though MSBI has found its place in most office spaces, Power BI is gradually but assertively being realized as the most straightforward option among the two.

Now that we have weighed the pros and cons of both tools, you might need a hand in taking your next step.

For more information on these BI tools, visit our Business Intelligence Community.

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