BI · Office 2013 · Office 365

Office 2013, Office 365 Editions and BI Features

By now you’re probably aware that Office 2013 is in the process of being officially released, and that Office 365 is a very hot topic. You’ve probably also read lots of blog posts by me and other writers talking about the cool new BI functionality in Office 2013 and Office 365. But which editions of Office 2013 and Office 365 include the BI functionality, and how does Office 365 match up to plain old non-subscription Office 2013 for BI? It’s surprisingly hard to find out the answers…

For regular, non-subscription, Office 2013 on the desktop you need Office Professional Plus to use the PowerPivot addin or to use Power View in Excel. However there’s an important distinction to make: the xVelocity engine is now natively integrated into Excel 2013, and this functionality is called the Excel Data Model and is available in all desktop editions of Excel. You only need the PowerPivot addin, and therefore Professional Plus, if you want to use the PowerPivot Window to modify and extend your model (for example by adding calculated columns or KPIs). So even if you’re not using Professional Plus you can still do some quite impressive BI stuff with PivotTables etc. On the server, the only edition of Sharepoint 2013 that has any BI functionality is Enterprise Edition; there’s no BI functionality in Foundation or Standard Editions.

[For those of you thinking of upgrading from Excel 2010 PowerPivot to Office 2013, Marco has all the details on compatibility of PowerPivot workbooks across different versions here.]

Office RT, which runs on Windows RT, has several limitations on its BI functionality: there’s no PowerPivot, Power View or Excel Data Model. Luckily, Kasper has summarised what it does do in a blog post here, so I won’t repeat what he says.

Moving on to 2013 functionality in Office 365, and specifically BI in Sharepoint Online, things get more complicated. Although feature support information for Office 365 is on Technet here, the best place to start is Andrew Connell’s blog post and corresponding feature matrix that is viewable through (appropriately enough) the Excel Web App. The feature matrix makes it very easy to filter Office 365 features by workload so you only see the BI-related ones:


As you can see, the short answer is that you need either Office 365 E3 or E4, or SharePoint Online Plan 2 to get BI functionality. The Office Professional PlusE3 and E4 plans are also the only plans to include subscriptions to the desktop versions of Office Professional Plus, and they allow it to be installed on up to 5 machines per user. The other thing you’ll notice is that PerformancePoint is not available at all in Office 365 (read into that what you will); it is of course available in Sharepoint 2013 Enterprise Edition on-premises.

There are other functionality differences between Sharepoint Online in Office 365 and on-premises Sharepoint too. The details are here, but the important ones are:

  • At least for the moment, Excel workbooks can be no larger than 10MB
  • The Excel Data Model will only refresh successfully if it sources data from the workbook itself; no external data sources are supported (though again I’d be surprised if that restriction isn’t lifted in the future)
  • There is no PowerPivot for Sharepoint functionality such as the Gallery, usage reporting or scheduled data refresh.

These are quite significant restrictions, it’s true, but if you are a purely self-service BI shop and you just want to use Sharepoint Online to publish PivotTable or Power View reports that don’t need to be refreshed (or can be refreshed manually on the desktop and then uploaded) then this functionality should be sufficient. This is the kind of scenario I showed here, and I think a lot of customers with no existing BI will still be impressed with it; obviously it’s a problem if you want to do any kind of corporate BI.

BUT. At the time of writing the Enterprise plans for Office 365 haven’t been fully updated for Office 2013 functionality, so all this BI functionality isn’t actually available yet to most subscribers. This means that the desktop versions of Office you can download are still 2010 and not 2013; online, while you can get the latest Sharepoint features if you’re part of the Office 365 Preview, if you’re currently an Office 365 subscriber you’re probably still on Sharepoint 2010. The official line on when the upgrade to 2013 functionality will take place is a bit vague – it will take place “in the course of 2013” – and there seem to be a few upset customers out there (see here for example). February 27th seems to be a significant date.

Finally, apart from Office 365 it’s also possible to view Excel workbooks via SkyDrive. However pretty much no BI functionality is available when you do this: no Excel Data Model, no external connections, no Power View, just the ability to view (and not alter) PivotTables. These restrictions seem to be more or less the same if you use just the Office Web Apps server on-premises without Sharepoint 2013 – see the relevant table here for details.

In summary: my head hurts! All these editions and licences… it would be nice if it was less complicated.

UPDATE: some new information, and some clarifications, since I first wrote this post

1) Office Professional Plus 2013 will be available via Office 365 on February 27th 2013. The cheapest subscription option that includes Excel on the desktop with PowerPivot and Power View is, as far as I can see, this one, an Office Professional Plus subscription, that is included in the E3 and E4 plans.

2) Office Professional Plus is only available via Open, Select or EA licensing (see for more details on what these options are). Excel 2013 standalone is only available via Open or Select. This means that no regular retail editions of Excel include PowerPivot or Power View, you can only get them through a Volume Licence Agreement or Office 365 (ie you need to be working for a big company with deep pockets unless you buy yourself an Office Professional Plus, E3 or E4 Office 365 subscription); compare this with PowerPivot for Excel 2010 worked with any edition of Excel. Existing PowerPivot users are not particularly happy about this when they find out: see here and here for example. Is this a good strategy? Hmm…

3) Right now, I’m told there is a problem with how the addins are packaged with Excel 2013 standalone which will be addressed in a future update.

UPDATE  2: I’ve just found out that standalone Power View is not supported at all in Sharepoint Online/Office 365. Only Power View sheets inside Excel workbooks are supported.

UPDATE 3: Power Pivot is now available in standalone versions of Excel too as of August 2013 –

UPDATE 4: This blog does not cover the BI features that are available in Power BI. A Power BI subscription is an add-on to an Office 365 subscription and gives you extra functionality. You can find out about the licensing here and I’ve blogged about what it gives you here, here and here.

33 thoughts on “Office 2013, Office 365 Editions and BI Features

  1. Excel 2013 based BI sounds way to confusing and restricted. It will be a nightmare for businesses to navigate a purchase.

    Seems like the competition (Qlikview, Tableau, Spotfire etc.) are evolving quickly, but Microsoft is it’s own worst enemy.

  2. The full Powerpivot only for large companies haven VL deals? And I thought this is about BI for the masses? I work in a small company and spend the last two years learning dax. Powerpivot is the only reason we still have a few office Licences, the rest is using Openoffice.

    The Powerpivot Windows helped me a lot at the beginning, instead of loading data in Excel tables via MsQuery and then using excel functions to transform them, I used the Powerpivotwindow to do the same, beeing able to use almost the same functions. I do things differently now, having increased my SQL knowledge a bit and my DAX knowledge a lot, but at the beginning this was really important.

  3. Thanks for trying to provide some clarity. I’m really getting a bit tired of the ever growing complexity that Microsoft keeps adding to their products, particularly the cloud services. Way TOO MANY plans and options and addons. We really need things more SIMPLE not complicated. Oy.

  4. Not too confusing. Microsoft’s competitors must be thrilled.

    1. Yes…I agree. I purchased Office 2013 Home and Business. Microsoft Support actually spent over 12 hours “working” on a solution to determine why I don’t have Power View and finally directed me to this site.

      I am ticked.

      Does anyone know if Microsoft will give you full credit for your purchase of the Home and Business Version and allow you to apply that towards the Professional or Enterprise Version.

      Failing that….I would be very interested in hearing what the competition has to offer.


  5. They seem to have learned a lesson with OS Licensing, but the Office team led by some old beards still unwilling to succumb. They will die fighting for more and more complicated licensing. The Cloud (free and paid), subscription licensing, and other added another dimension to the already complicated maze.

  6. Tableau has a model Microsoft could do well to copy. They built a product which is amazingly rich, but so simple.

    Then they coupled it with the simplest pricing on the market. It costs $2000 per user. If you have more users, multiply the number of users by $2000, pay an extra 20% in year two and beyond if you want support and future releases.

    If you don’t want to pay, use the free edition, tableau public.

    There are no modules, no volume discounts, just pay for a license and get started.

    That’s the way to do it msft! Oh, and include a major new release every six months too.

  7. Hi Chris,

    I have a question. We are starting an Office 365 E3 edition deployment and I am not clear on whether or not we will be able to connect to our on-premise cubes etc. with the Sharepoint version we have in the cloud or if we will only be able to push reports and pivot tables to the Sharepoint in the cloud site.

    Fundamentally trying to determine whether or not we need to have a hybrid sharepoint environment to support both our interactive power users with deep drillthroughs and linkages and our field organization that is okay with just having a report posted to the cloud site.

    Thanks and see you at PASS 2013!

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      Hi Ken,

      I’m 99% certain you can-t connect to your on-prem cubes from Excel Services/Sharepoint in Office 365. The 1% of doubt is because I haven’t properly checked out the new cloud AD stuff, but I’m sure I would have heard of other people doing what you want to do if it was possible. It sounds like you’ll need some on-prem Sharepoint too.



  8. i’m reading so many complaints from the crowd here. almost like the advice and complaints you’ll find at a football match sideline.
    if you want to go use Open Office, then go use it, be happy and If you find Tableau to have better structured plans, then why don’t you go use it at very toppy rates of 999 or 1999 for a desktop edition alone…
    i don’t know any small company that will be able to fork out that amount of money on a viz tool alone
    everyone uses excel though, and I know lots of people that uses excel with Tableau public, although they don’t like the fact that their data is now public.
    we use both MS and other tools and we always look at the best fit per client without slating any tech company, except maybe Qlikview(even though we could be busy for years redoing the loads of abandoned Qlikview implimentations, so thanks Qlikview for all the work)
    also, Tableau is a viz tool, not an integrated Office product with email and filesharing capabilties, etc, etc, etc
    I just get the feeling most people would like to complain about the party that they’ve been invited to
    if you don’t want to be at the party, then leave and go home or OpenOffice

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      I don’t know of any tutorials for Office 365 alone – what kind of topics are you interested in learning about specifically?

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      No, it isn’t

      1. I guess I was thrown off by the first image above in which it indicated yes and no.

    1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
      Chris Webb says:

      No, but Microsoft has promised to deliver this soon (though I don’t know when exactly)

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