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Requirement for BI Desktop versus BI Service

I'm new to Power BI and I'm confused about the functions available only in BI Desktop versus BI Service, and vice versa.


I use Office 365 with Power BI.  It appears that some BI functions, like importing many more different file types, are only available with BI Desktop.  I wanted to import/upload an Access Database, but that is not an option through the BI Service offered through Office 365.  In fact, with the BI Service, there are only a handful of file types I can import, while BI Desktop offers many more.  What's going on with this?  Is it possible for me to install Power BI Desktop as an add-in to my Office 365 apps?





Thanks very much! Your response explains the differences very well! Thanks!

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Community Champion
Community Champion

@markdevries power bi desktop differs from power bi service as it has more data modelling capabilities than you get in power bi service. so think of it as a designer that you use to build reprots and then publish to service to share it with others. Normal approach would be to use power bi desktop to connect to your data source, build reports and then publish to power bi service. For some data sources you can straight connect to them from power bi service and build reports but you don't get advanced data modelling capabilities that you get through power bi desktop.


Power BI Desktop need to be downloaded and installed on your local machine / server and is not a web based application to be added to O365 apps.

Thanks very much! Your response explains the differences very well! Thanks!

Thank you very much!  Your response was very informative and helpful!

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