Software for Enterprise

Power BI vs. Tableau Comparison of Self-Service BI Tools

Don’t waste time searching the internet and check the most important differences between Power BI Desktop and Tableau products. In this blog post, we discuss the most important aspects that will allow you to decide which product is better suited to the needs of your organization.

Today we will talk about two products that are currently popular when it comes to Business Intelligence, i.e. Power BI Desktop and Tableau. These are the two most popular programs right now, and we’d like to talk about which one and why should you choose. The first thing we will say is the list of what this presentation contains. This is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of these two applications, there are strengths and weaknesses of both of these programs. We will not choose a better product here, but we will only check which one is better suited to our needs. At the end of each stage discussed, we will list the 3 to4 key elements and identify the winner among these three, four key elements. We begin.

Krauss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Where These Products Are Located In Your Organization?

To begin with, we would like to find out where these products, i.e. Tableau and Power BI Desktop, are used in our organization – so we have to look at the very center of our organization where we have Business Intelligence, Analytical, and Reporting Tools, we have Big Data or even Presentation and Graphics. Also, these two tools support a lot of processes in the company and of course, we must say that it is a crucial application, both when it comes to business decisions or any analytical decisions. If we will look at the position of these two programs on the Gartner chart, as we can see both Tableau and the Microsoft product, i.e. Power BI Desktop are absolute leaders, leaving other products far behind, this is why we decided to compare the two solutions.

To compare both the tools, we will consider what their integration with other systems looks like, i.e. how easy it is to import, export, and how to easily combine it with the already existing elements in the organization. Or maybe, how frequent the updates are and what they bring new, what language they can support which product will be easier to do with it, data of data imports and of course the costs.

Integration With Other Systems

Beginning with the integration of Power BI and Tableau with other systems, both of these programs have great possibilities of connecting to many sources. Here, in Power BI Desktop, the Power Query tool that is already built-in, which is used to transform data, deserves attention, which, unfortunately, in the case of Tableau is a separate product and additionally payable. There is only a small element of data improvement in Tableau, but it does not equal either the Tableau Preb or the Power Query built into the Desktop. Power BI Desktop is developing extremely fast in terms of the number of sources from which you can draw – literally from update to update, the list is extremely long for us. Also, of course, we have full integration with Office 365, it is, after all, a product from the same banner. Tableau already has a lot of these connections, so if you do not see such a huge increase, while both tools allow you to connect to a multitude of data sources. In such summary – if we work with low-quality data, BI Desktop has a plus, because it has a built-in service tool when it comes to things like connecting to SalesForce or Google Analytics, it will also be a little easier on the Desktop. However, large data sources are assumed to be easier and more pleasant to handle in Tableau.

Updates & Environment

The second element we will talk about is updates and the environment. BI Desktop is a very dynamically developing product so these updates are frequent. Most often monthly. However, the paid users in the Pro version have the most and the most help; there is a small, but very, very active group of enthusiasts, Microsoft cares about their problems, although it is quite a fresh product. In the case of Tableau, these updates are less frequent; usually, twice a year, although that may also change. It is a very mature product, it has been on the market for a long time and has a very developed help and also a huge crowd of enthusiasts around the world, so it’s much easier to learn about it. If you were to look at these key aspects, if we want to support, if we want a large society associated with this product, Tableau is a better choice. If we like new products, greater possibilities, because BI Desktop is developing very, very dynamically, so potentially there may be more of these options, here Desktop, however, takes the lead. Of course, Tableau gives this certainty and stability to this environment, so in this respect, it is definitely in the lead.

Menu & Integration With Polish.

And now yes – when it comes to the Polish language, Power BI Desktop is the top here, because it also includes a menu in Polish, includes recognition of names, maps, and locations in Polish. As for Tableau, here they are recognized in some elements, the menu is not in Polish, the help is not in Polish if in the corporation or in the company we have English language, it will probably not be an obstacle for anyone. In summary, if we use a lot of Polish geographic data, definitely Desktop, which is much better at recognizing them, Polish menu in applications, if it is a necessary element, Power BI Desktop, if we already have an English menu in our applications and us it does not bother, well, Tableau does not lose to the competition here, and it is much easier to switch to Power BI dashboard when users are already using other products from the same vendor.


Visualizations – so this is probably the topic that interests everyone the most. There are some differences. When it comes to Power BI Desktop, the key limitation that can be decisive is the 10,000 limit. data points displayed in a scatter plot. There is no such limit in Tableau. On the other hand, Power BI Desktop can add custom brilliant visuals. Most of them are completely free. Of course, more professional solutions are paid. Because we can use more of these visualizations, BI Desktop is an easier way to achieve specific results; on the other hand, Tableau shows us these visualizations already ready and, as it were, a closed number of these visualizations, but they are very good, additionally, allowing us to create the so-called story which is nothing more than a kind of presentation of the key elements, even replacing the PowerPoint. Certainly, Tableau also has a much, much more interesting and friendly interface for selecting data, be it geographic or data on scatter charts. To sum up – the speed and ease of creating visualizations go towards Tableau, although it takes some getting used to. Scatter charts on a huge amount of data – not everyone uses them, not everyone needs them, but here the advantage is definitely towards Tableau, it does not have this limit of 10,000. data points. Power BI Desktop allows you to create a huge number of various visualizations, often tailored to specific needs, so this is a huge advantage towards Desktop. And all those non-standard visuals, which we can download can also enrich these charts and these visualizations.

Data Import

Data import. Desktop, although it is very good at importing data, needs more memory. Local data within the 10 GB limit – is it a lot or a little, then you have to answer more by checking your file sizes. Of course, if the connections are of the Life Connection type, i.e. live connections, there is no such limit. The results of the comparative tests showed that when it comes to importing, it is about 25% faster in Tableau and the files are much, much smaller, so here there is also no size limits for these downloaded files, so Tableau can theoretically handle any size of files. So if we have mostly large datasets to process, Tableau is taking the lead; if we want a lot of offline data, i.e. we cannot use Life Connection, it goes to Tableau again, if we want to import this data easier and more friendly, then here Power BI Desktop is more pleasant.


This is something that certainly interests everyone. In the beginning, both solutions can be tested completely for free, in the case of BI Desktop, we can choose a solution that will allow us to save these files locally, with their full functionality. Unfortunately, it is not possible to publish them on the network for free, on the other hand, in the Tableau Public version, it is not possible to save files locally, but only on the network. As a result, these files are also publicly available, so you need to be careful about the Tableau version so as not to test it on sensitive data. Costs – these costs change a lot, for the moment of creating this presentation, for Power BI Desktop it was from $ 10 to $ 15 per month per user, for Tableau it was from $ 25 to $ 70 per month per user.

Both of these solutions, of course, also offer the possibility of cloud solutions, both of these solutions allow you to store data in your local servers. So yes – Power BI; lower price, Tableau; certainly great ease when it comes to scalability from small to huge solutions. Well, price stability in the case of Tableau because not so long ago Power BI Desktop was a completely free solution, but slowly, slowly, additional fees are already charged for individual elements and more important functionalities; so it is not known exactly what this price may be in a year or five years from now.

The Main Differences

Main differences – to sum up;

Power BI Desktop is perfect for repetitive reports, perfect for daily statement generation and the like, we have a ready Power Query tool that will allow us to process this data, which is its great advantage. Free visualizations, non-standard, which will diversify it, language support, and on the MAC OS platform there are not all versions, you have to remember about it; only online, there will be no desktop version.

Tableau – we can say that it is ideally created for ad hoc searches, so if we want to search for something regularly, Tableau is a friendlier product here. There is full integration with the MAC OS platform, so regardless of what system we use in the company, Tableau will work. Easy scalability – from small to large companies, we can quickly move on with licenses and the use of Tableau and, of course, if we handle huge data sets, Tableau is also taking the lead here.

That would be it, I hope that this short blog post will allow you to decide which BI system is worth choosing. If in doubt, I generously advise you to consult Code Creators Inc. for consultation and training in both the first and the second product.

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