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MSBI vs Power BI

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. Business Intelligence tools help you do just that by keeping bad choices at bay using analytics. This blog will discuss the two most important BI tools, Power BI and MSBI, and give you an insight into the tools that data in the right direction.

The following are discussed in the blog:

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

What is MSBI?

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

MSBI has three main components to help users implement ETL capabilities:

SSIS or SQL Server Integration Service:

SSIS works as a data integration service and performs some ETL capabilities. It extracts data from heterogeneous sources and transforms it into meaningful insights in a structured manner.

SSAS or SQL Server Analytics Service:

SSAS provides the OLAP service, which means that users can perform online analytic processing and find data patterns that may not be discovered by other data mining features that are built into the product.

SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Service:

SSRS allows users 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.

What is Power BI?

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

Power BI is divided into a few components:

Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is a free application that can be accessed on installing Power BI on your desktop. Power BI 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 reports and visuals, and sharing them with others in your organization.

Power BI Service

Power BI Service is a cloud service offered by Microsoft that simplifies working with Power BI projects by sharing and collaborating summaries and reports. Power BI Service helps bring all relevant data to one place.

Power BI Mobile Apps

Power BI Mobile Apps let you use the service on the go and not be crutched to your desktop to start working. This facility is supported on Windows 10, Android, and iOS devices.

Learn more about Power BI with our Power BI Tutorial blog!


Criteria used to differentiate between MSBI and Power BI

The following are the criteria used to differentiate between MSBI and Power BI:

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

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MSBI is a Microsoft product used to create reports of SQL-Server-based data with the help of SSRS. MSBI 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 users to extract raw information from varied sources and create dashboards or reports to get better insights. With Power BI, users 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 users can install on local servers and computers. While Power BI is a cloud-based service hosted on the vendor’s servers, which users 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.

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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 the 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 data and share reports over the internet.

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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 nontechnical user can understand and use to build reports or dashboards.

Go through these MSBI Interview Questionsto 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 users to 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 nontechnical 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; this is because MSBI only deals with 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 limited capacity. If your file has more rows or larger sizes, 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 users to run queries by simply typing them in natural language. Power BI’s drag-and-drop feature also helps users to create stunning reports without knowing the background process of how data is being transformed.

However, in MSBI, users have to code and design the reports from scratch. To work with MSBI, users 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 nontechnical users to easily manipulate raw information without any coding involved.


MSBI is available for 180 days as a free version. After that, users need to pay US$931. For the pro version, MSBI charges US$10 per user every month; users have to pay US$5,000 for unlimited access to the premium version.

The free version of Power BI lasts for 60 days, after which US$9.99 have to be paid for every user. For Power BI Premium, the charges are US$20 per user and US$4,995 per 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 such 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:

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 data from cloud storageIt can access data from both on-premises and cloud storage
It has drill-down capacity that helps users to focus on categorized data in a detailed mannerIt has better visualizations and data modeling tools for higher-level visual representation
SSRS can only be used to create reports and visualizationsIt allows users to create reports, data models, and dashboards that can be accessed via Power BI Apps and other web browsers
It requires prior knowledge of data analysis and programmingIt provides AI features that help even nontechnical users to create reports by writing queries in a natural language

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Business Intelligence tracks market trends and draws meaningful insights for enterprises to make right decisions. 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 it’s really helpful for the MSBI Developer, Power BI is gradually but assertively being recognized as the more straightforward option between the two BI tools.

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

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