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Frequent Visitor

Differences between Desktop and Service - is there a list?

Immensely frustrating that so much MS material on Power BI refers to features available only on the cloud version, and not on Desktop, without making this clear.


Is there a page somewhere that lists features available on Service which are not available on Desktop? 


(I'm thinking straight off the bat of Visual Interactons and Quick Insights.)



Not applicable

Since I paid for Power BI Pro, it would be nice if some of the features available BI Service such as Quick Insight is also available in Power BI Pro. Can I assume is another way of making user to acquire BI service after paying for the Power BI Pro. I am a beginner of Power BI user.

Frequent Visitor

Same issue here - very confusing!


i wouldn’t mind someone confirming my thinking here or correcting me if i’m wrong...


i’m developing Reports in Power BI Desktop and making them available to users in Report Server so I’m bypassing Power BI Service altogether.  All my reading implies that I need Power BI Service but it seems I don’t!


Am I missing something?  I think the reason we’re not using Service is that you pay for it!  The rest is free!


Thanks for your thoughts.

Report Server is an on-prem delivery mechanism, so yes you are correct you don't need to worry about Power BI Service (cloud).  However, Report Server is DEFINITELY not free!  If you have SQL Server EA with SA then PBI Report Server is included as part of your license, so maybe it is "free" in that regard.


Hi @DSP,


Below articles list some main difference between Power BI desktop and Power BI service:

Compare Power BI Desktop vs. Power BI Online

BI web vs desktop


For more details, personally, I would suggest you get started with Power BI service from this basic document.


Best regards,
Yuliana Gu

Community Support Team _ Yuliana Gu
If this post helps, then please consider Accept it as the solution to help the other members find it more quickly.

I am also having trouble figuring out the difference between service, desktop, and PRO. Is service part of both?  

Free and Pro are the type of subscription/license you have.


Free vs Pro features:


Service is the online report publishing/sharing service where you can create a dashboard (combining visuals from multiple different reports into one), whereas desktop is the report authoring application you run on a local machine.  You have access to the service with both a free and pro license, but the ability to share is only for Pro.




In a nutshell, the desktop app is for creating content, the service is for sharing content. The editor in the service is for making small aesthetic changes and creating simple content, but SHOULD NOT be your go to for authoring reports.

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