Power BI Designer – Who is it for?

Microsoft has released a new addition to the Power BI family: Power BI Designer. The product looks great. It blends the functionality of the Power BI family (Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map) into one package allowing you to use multiple data sources, model the data, and then create reports through a modern and interactive interface. These reports can be saved (.pbix extension) and later shared as dashboards using the Power BI Service

However, some questions can understandably appear after seeing the Power BI Designer and its functionality:

What audience is Power BI Designer for?
When should I use Power BI Designer instead of Excel 2013?

Hopefully, by the end of this post the answer to those questions will be clear.


First, let’s look at what we need in order to install both Power BI Designer and Office 2013

Power BI Designer

Office 2013

  • Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Internet Explorer 10 or greater.
  • Available for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) platforms.


  • Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Internet Explorer 8 or greater, Mozilla Firefox 10.x or a later version; Apple Safari 5; or Google Chrome 17.x.
  • Available for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) platforms.

Source: (TechNet)

From this, we can draw some conclusions:

You should use Power BI Designer if:

1. Your organization does not use Office or is using an Office version older than Office 2013

2. You currently have a 32 bit version of Office and upgrading to 64 bits is not an option. This is especially useful when you are working with large data sets.

Power BI Designer Functionality

This new release expands on the existing Power BI functionality by adding a new connector for SQL Server Analysis Services:


Now organizations that for many reasons don’t want to have their data in the cloud, can take advantage of the hybrid service Power BI has to offer: Allowing organizations to have reports in the cloud whilst keeping data “on premises”.

Live Dashboards

Data on Premises

We can add another reason to use Power BI Designer to our list:

3. You want to take advantage of the Power BI Service, but don’t want your data stored in the cloud

New controls to visualize data have also been added to the Power BI Designer, which interestingly enough, are NOT available in Excel 2013:

Another reason why you may find the Power BI Designer to be a good fit for you:

4. You want to use any of the new visualization controls: Funnel, Gauge, Tree Map, Combo Chart, Fill Map

Last but not least, a good reason to consider the Power BI Designer is because it offers an improvement over its Excel 2013 version: Bidirectional and Many –To-Many table relationships. This is an important advantage over Power Query and something that Microsoft should bring to Excel’s version.

5. You want to take advantage of Power BI Designer’s ability to model Bidirectional and Many –To-Many table relationships.

Additional Resources:

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By | 2019-06-26T13:37:02+00:00 March 6th, 2015|Business Intelligence (BI)|0 Comments
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Contributor: AKA Enterprise Solutions

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