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The Power BI Desktop app for Windows is free, which is great. However, the Microsoft site is loaded with talk of licensing to share/view Power BI content. Is that only for their hosted Power BI SERVICE?

I want to create reports in Power BI Desktop, and distribute these as .pbix files. Is there any reason I can't distribute these without paying a dime? I realize that Microsoft's goal is to get people into their hosted Power BI service, but using Power BI Desktop (free app) to distribute content for free seems to good too be true.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions about licensing should be directed to the vendor. – Colin 't Hart Aug 22 at 21:30
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You are absolutely free to build and distribute .pbix files by file shares or OneDrive, or SharePoint Online. Eventually this will lead to Power BI Service usage, or at least your team mates will want brand new Surface PCs to run Power BI Desktop.

And in any case you are investing your precious time in learning the technology and spreading its use.

  • "lead to Power BI Service usage" meaning that Microsoft would hope to up-sell the customer to the service, or that Microsoft is planning on phasing out non-service usage? – SomeGuy Aug 22 at 18:27
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    The up-sell one. – David Browne - Microsoft Aug 22 at 18:28
  • Excellent. This is good news for the usage I am thinking of. The only thing I would really like to be able to do that I can't is open a .pbix file in the Power BI app on smartphones. Maybe someday my company will be willing to invest in the Power BI service. – SomeGuy Aug 22 at 18:48
  • Or your next company. – David Browne - Microsoft Aug 22 at 18:52
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I want to create reports in Power BI Desktop, and distribute these as .pbix files. Is there any reason I can't distribute these without paying a dime? I realize that Microsoft's goal is to get people into their hosted Power BI service, but using Power BI Desktop (free app) to distribute content for free seems to good too be true.

The .pbix files can be distributed to people but users must also have same or higher version of Power BI desktop installed at their end to view or utilize .pbix files.

However, you might be interested in SSRS Power BI Server which mined here - similar to your scenario..

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