Differences Between Power BI and Tableau: Power BI Vs Tableau Comparison

Power BI is a Data Visualization and Business Intelligence tool provided by Microsoft. It can collect data from different data sources like Excel spreadsheets, on-premise database, cloud database and convert them into meaningful reports and dashboards. Its features such as creating quick insights, Q&A, Embedded Report, and Self Service BI made it top among all BI tools. It is also robust and always ready for extensive modeling and real-time analytics, as well as custom visual development.

Tableau offers business analysts to take business decisions by its feature, data visualization available to all business users of any background. It can establish a connection with any data source (Excel, local/on-premise database, cloud database).

Tableau is the fastest growing Data Visualization Tool among all visualization tools. Its visualizations are created as worksheets and dashboards. The beauty of tableau is that it does not require any technical or programming knowledge to create or develop reports and dashboards.

Difference between Power BI Vs Tableau

Let’s put a difference between Power BI and Tableau in a tabular form:

Power BI Tableau
It is provided by Microsoft. It is provided by Tableau.
It is available at an affordable price. It is more expensive than power bi.
Uses DAX for measures and calculated columns Uses MDX for measures and dimensions.
Connect limited data sources but increasing its data source connectors in monthly updates. It can connect to numerous data sources.
Can handle large data sets using Premium Capacity. Can handle large data sets.
It Provides Account based subscription. It Provides Key based subscription.
Embedding report is easy. Embedding report is a real-time challenge in tableau.

1. Provider: 

Power BI is provided by Microsoft, whereas, Tableau products offers its products all business users of any background.

2. Price:

Power BI is available at an affordable price, whereas, Tableau is more expensive than Power BI.

3. Analysis:

Power BI uses DAX for measures and calculated columns, whereas, Tableau deploys MDX for measures and dimensions.

4. Connect:

Power BI connects limited data sources while increasing its data source connectors in monthly updates, whereas, Tableau can connect to numerous data sources.

5. Capacity:

Both Power BI and Tableau are capable of handling large data sets. Power BI handles these large data sets by using Premium Capacity.

6. Subscription:

Power BI provides Account based subscription, whereas, Tableau provides Key based subscription.

7. Report:

Embedding report is easy with Power BI, whereas, embedding report is a real-time challenge in Tableau.

What is Power BI? 

Power BI is a Data Visualization & Business Intelligence tools that offer us to connect to single or multiple data sources and convert that connected raw data into impressive visual and share insights across an organization. It also offers us to embed the report into our application or website.

Product Suite of Power BI:

  • Power BI Desktop 
    • Free to download and install.
    • Connect and access various of on-prem and cloud sources like Excel, CSV/Text files, Azure, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, etc.
    • Prepare by mashing up the data and create a data model using power query which uses M Query Language
    • After loading data to Power BI Desktop can establish the relationship between tables.
    • Create calculated measures, columns, and tables using Data Analysis eXpression(DAX).
    • Drag & drop interactive visuals on to pages using calculated measures and columns.
    • Publish to Power BI Web Service.
  • Power BI Service
    • This is one of the ways to embed the reports within the Website under an organization.
    • In the Power BI service forum, there are a collection of sections like Workspace, Dashboards, Reports, and Datasets.
    • Can create our own workspace as My-Workspace which helps to maintain personal work in Power BI Service.
    • Can pin number of Reports to a Dashboard to get together a number of meaningful Datasets for clear insight.
    • In this we can interact with our data with the help of Q&A {natural language query.}
  • Power BI Report Server
    • This is one of the products to allow businesses to host Power BI reports on an on-premise report server.
    • Can use the server to host paginated reports, KPI’s, Mobile reports and Excel workbook.
    • Shared data sets and shared data sources are in their own folders, to use as building blocks for the reports.

  • Power BI Mobile
    • Over Power BI provides mobile app services for IOS, Android and Windows 10 mobile devices.
    • In the mobile app, you can connect to and interact with your cloud and on-premise data.
    • It is very convenient to manage dashboard and reports on the go with your mobile app to stay connected and being on the same page with the organization.
  • On-Premise Gateway
    • This is a bridge to connect your on-premise data to online services like Power BI, Microsoft flow, Logic App’s and Power App’s services, we can use a single gateway with different services at the same time.

e.g.: – If you are using Power BI as well as Power App’s, a single gateway can be used for both which is dependent on the account you signed with it.

  • The on-premises data gateway implements data compression and transport encryption in all modes.
  • On-premises data gateway is supported only on 64-bit Windows operating system.
  • Multiple users can be share and reuse a gateway in this mode.
  • For Power BI, this includes support for schedule refresh and Direct Query.

What is Tableau?

Tableau is a Business Intelligence & Data Visualization Tool that used to analyze our data visually. Users can create and share interactive reports & dashboards using it. It offers Data Blending to users to Connect multiple data sources.

Product Suite of Tableau:

  • Tableau Server
    • Tableau Server is an enterprise-wide visuals analytics platform for creating interactive dashboards.
    • It is essentially an online hosting platform to hold all your tableau Workbooks, Data sources and more.
    • Being the product of tableau, you can use the functionality of tableau without needing to always be downloading and opening workbooks with tableau desktop.
    • Can give security level permission to different work in an organization to determine who can access and interact with what.
    • As a tableau server user, you will be able to access UpToDate content and gain quick insight without relying on static distributed content.
  • Tableau Desktop
    • This is a downloadable on-premise application for Computers and it is used for developing visualization in the form of sheets, Dashboards, and Stories.
    • There are some useful functionalities of tableau desktop are: Data transformation, Creating Data Sources, Creating Extracts and Publishing Visualizations on tableau server.
    • Tableau desktop produces files with extensions twb and twbx.
    • It is a licensed product but comes with two weeks of the trial period.
    • Starting from creating reports and charts to combining them to form a dashboard, all this work is done in tableau desktop.
  • Tableau Prep
    • Tableau Prep is a personal data preparation tool that empowers the user with the ability to cleanse aggregate, merge or otherwise prepare their data for analysis in tableau.
    • Tableau Prep has a simple and clean user interface that looks and feels like a final form of tableau desktop data sources screen.
    • In Tableau Prep the data is stored in flow pane manner with has universal unique identifier [UUID] which can store big data sets in a secure way.
  • Tableau Reader
    • Tableau Reader is a free desktop application that you can use to open with data visualizations built in tableau desktop.
    • It required to read and interact with tableau packaged workbooks.
    • Tableau reader has the ability to retain interaction with visualization created in tableau desktop but will not allow connections to data which can be refreshed.
    • It only supports to read tableau data files; without the reader, you may need to share it publicly or convert the workbook into a pdf format.
  • Tableau Online
    • Tableau online is an analytics platform which is fully hosted in the cloud.
    • It can publish Dashboards and share your discoveries with anyone.
    • It has a facility to empower your organization to ask any question from any published data source using natural language.
    • It can connect to any cloud databases at any time anywhere and it can automatically refresh the data from Web-App like Google analytics and salesforce.
    • It empowers site admins to easily manage authentication and permissions for users, content, and data.
  • Tableau Public
    • This is a free service that lets anyone public interactive data visualizations to the web.
    • Visualizations are created in the accompanying app Tableau Desktop Public edition which required no programming skills.
    • It is for anyone who’s interested in understanding data and sharing those discoveries as a data visualization with the world.
    • It has some features highlights those are: – Heat Maps, Transparent sheets, Automatic Mobile Layouts, and Google Sheets.
    • As visualization are public so anyone can access the data and make a change by downloading the workbook so it is totally unsecured.
    • It has limitations of 15,000,000 rows of data per workbook.
    • It has 10GB of storage space for your workbook which is kind of limitation towards storage.
    • It supports Python with Tableau public called ‘Tabpy’, A new API that enables evaluation of python code within a tableau workbook

Strengths & Weakness of Power BI:


  • Free Power BI Desktop application for authors to develop reports
  • Uses DAX expressions for data calculations
  • Free Training Modules available for users
  • Composite Model (Direct Query, Dual, and Import) to connect dispersed multiple data sources and create a model
  • Multiple visuals in a single page
  • Also has Drill Down-Drill Up in visuals, Drill through pages, Toggle page or visual using Bookmarks, selection pane & buttons
  • Ability to connect multiple data sources
  • It is affordable desktop – free and pro (Power BI Service to share and collaborate with other users in the organization) – $9.99
  • Can integrate with Cortana – Windows Personal Voice Assistant
  • Power BI has integrated with all Microsoft products (Azure, SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, Power Apps, Microsoft Flow)
  • Dataflow in power BI Service to connect to Azure Data lake storage 2 and other online services.


  • It is difficult for users who do not have knowledge of Excel
  • Clients who use large data sets must opt for Premium Capacity services to avoid unpleasant experience with datasets and its users with performance and timeouts issues
  • Power BI service compatible with few database drivers
  • Power BI has got a large set of product options which make it complex to understand, which option is best suited for a Business.

Strengths & Weakness of Tableau:


  • Tableau provides much beautiful visualization for which it stood top in the market among all BI tools.
  • Quickly combine shape, & clean the data for analysis.
  • It provides Data Blending.
  • Capable of Drill Down-Drill Up in visuals, Drill through pages and filters.
  • It can handle a large amount of data.
  • Uses Scripting languages such as R & Python to avoid performance and for complex table calculations.
  • Can build reports, dashboards, and story using Tableau Desktop.


  • Tableau is expensive when compared to other tools.
  • Scheduling or Notification of reports & dashboards.
  • Importing Custom Visualization is a bit difficult.
  • Complexity in embedding report to other applications.
  • Tableau is suitable for Huge organization which can pay for licensing cost.

Benefits of Power BI

  • Microsoft is a Brand. I hope everyone remembers the school or college days, the time when we started learning and using Microsoft products as they are very simple to understand and user-friendly. Hence, obvious that our eyes and brain are trained on all Microsoft products.
  • One who has working experience excel can easily cope up with Power BI Desktop & Mobile in no time.
  • Pin the visual available in Excel to Power BI Service Using Excel Add-on.
  • Once can build swift & reliable reports by simply drag and drop both inbuilt/custom visuals and this URL for Best practices to make an optimum performance for the report.
  • Accessibility of Colossal Learning Assets available Guided Learning in this URL.
  • As Power BI belongs to Microsoft family, hence it has privileged with Single Sign-On (SSO) and also tight integration with Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Office 365, SharePoint Online, Power Apps, MS Flow, Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data warehouse, Azure Analysis server database… etc.
  • Power Query Many options related to wrangling and clean the data bring it as a perfect data model.
  • Post publishing the data into Power BI web service can schedule refresh without manual intervention.
  • Power BI backed superpower of with Artificial intelligence and Machine learning
  • Microsoft introduced Power Platform (Power BI to Measure, Power Apps to Act & Microsoft Flow to automate) and you can find more details in this URL.
  • Forthcoming Road Map provided for Power BI by Microsoft available in this URL.
  • Power BI is integrated with both Python and R coding to use visualizations.
  • Power BI Desktop Free – $0.00 & Power BI Web Service (Azure) Pro – $9.99 Monthly

Disadvantages of Power BI

Power BI desktop is the best tool to analyze your data while you connect using Direct query (or) Live connections and might struggle handle huge if you import data into the application and at times it might get hung or simply crashes. However, in future monthly updates, Microsoft Product team will surely resolve this problem.

  • Tableau can connect various sources, can effortlessly handle huge data and is a very good tool for Data visualization and create dashboards by simply drag and drop.
  • Tableau supports Python and R languages for creating visuals.
  • Tableau has spent its term as Leader in Gartner’s report URL from 2012 – 2018 and now moved to second place.

Disadvantages of Tableau

Tableau Creator – $70.00 & Tableau Online – $35 Monthly

  • Tableau product team has not concentrated advanced technologies missed integrated with Artificial intelligence and Machine learning.
  • Once pushed the reports to tableau online, it does not support scheduled refresh and one must refresh the data manually.
  • Analyst must use only inbuilt visual available in Tableau and no option to import custom visuals from the portal. Instead, according to the requirement developers need to create custom visuals by themselves.
  • To create a data model, data preparation options in Tableau is limited. For advance data wrangling and cleaning one must take the help of other tools like Excel, Python, R, or Tableau Prep.
  • There is integration with other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power Apps, Microsoft Flow which uses Single Sign-On (SSO).

What makes Power BI and Tableau the most popular tools in Business Intelligence and Data Visualization?

Power BI & Tableau are most happening BI tools among all tools in business intelligence because of their features and capabilities like Embedded BI,  Data Blending, Multi Data Source connection like Cloud databases and on-premise databases. They make sharing of reports and dashboards for the users, easy. Business Analyst without even having to access these tools can access reports & dashboards and take critical business decisions.

These two tools stood top in the BI market because of the attractive visualizations available. Power BI offers a feature of import of custom visual and creation of custom visual which is its beauty. These facts have made these BI tools most happening BI tools in the market till the date.

According to Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms report, the 1st choice is Power BI and 2nd top choice is Tableau in BI Tool in the present market.

Which one to choose, Power BI or Tableau?

Data Analytics field has been changed over time from traditional bi practice embedded bi and collaborative bi. Initially, data analytics led by companies like IBM, Oracle, SAP but now this is not a situation. Now, this led by companies like Microsoft & Tableau because of their features like Embedded BI Collaborative BI, Data Blending, Multi Data Source Connection.

Both Power BI and Tableau have their own Pros and Cons. The right product can be chosen based on touchstones & priority.

Touchstones Power BI Tableau
Description A cloud-based business intelligence platform which offers an overview of critical data A collection of intuitive business intelligence tools used for data discovery
Visualization Provides various visualizations Provides a larger set of visualizations than Power BI
OS support Only Windows Windows and Macintosh OS
Graphical features Regular charts, graphs, and maps Any category of charts, bars, and graphs
Cost Cheaper Costly
Organization Suitable for Small, Medium & Large type of Organization Suitable for Medium & Large type of Organization