Power BI Desktop Update Brings Excel Users Into the Fold
The August Power BI update allows Excel users to import their work into Microsoft' cloud-powered business intelligence tool.Microsoft wants to help business users unearth insights that may be locked away in Excel workbooks with the latest update to Power BI Desktop. Formerly called Power BI Designer, Power BI Desktop is the free data exploration and interactive reporting tool that enables users to run analytics on various sources of business data, including Google Analytics, SQL Server and Salesforce, to name a few. Now users have another option: Excel. The new import capability "makes it possible for users to convert their Excel Workbooks containing Power Query queries, Power Pivot models and Power View worksheets into a Power BI Desktop file," announced Miguel Llopis, program manager for Microsoft Power BI, in a company blog post. "This is a one-time operation to help users get started in Power BI Desktop with their existing reports." Llopis characterized the Excel import feature as a stepping stone to business analytics until his company inevitably improves how the two platforms share data. "While we plan to have other means of communication (import/export) between Excel and Power BI Desktop in the future, the current feature allows existing Excel users to get started with Power BI Desktop."
There are limits to the types of Excel data that can be imported to Power BI, according to a Microsoft support document, he cautioned. They include SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular models, the KPI (key performance indicator) Data Model objects and binary data columns, among a handful of others.