Power BI, from Microsoft, is a highly-rated business intelligence software. Power BI is mainly used by enterprises and analysts as a helpful instrument to find answers through data for questions raised. If you are considering learning or using PowerBI, welcome to read this post. Here I will conduct a detailed evaluation of Power BI, mention its advantages and disadvantages, and introduce some alternatives to Power BI (useful for Mac users or those with tight budgets)

Microsoft Power BI Overview

Power BI is a product launched by Microsoft, one of the world’s largest providers of computer software. The vendor’s most famous and best-selling products are the Windows OS and the Microsoft Office. The vendor’s solid technical capabilities have been recognized by many professional institutions. Gartner has ranked it as a frontrunner in the Magic Quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms for several times.

Power BI alternatives
Power BI

Around 2009, based on the Excel ecosystem, Microsoft released Power Pivot, which was the predecessor of Power BI. In 2015, Power BI was officially released, launching cloud business intelligence and a free personal version.

Simply put, the products of the PowerBI series can be divided into the following blocks:

  • Power BI Desktop: It is a free version of Power BI, suitable for end-users or analysts, who mainly use reports or analyze by themselves, without the need for large-scale sharing with other end users.
  • Power BI Pro: Power BI Pro is the full version of Power BI, with the ability to use Power BI to build dashboards and reports, and to view, share and use reports without restrictions. Power BI Pro is suitable for heavy users who work intensively with Power BI to analyze data, create, use and share dashboards and reports with other Pro users.
  • Power BI Premium: It is the most expensive Power BI currently available. Your content is stored in Premium and can then be viewed by users within the organization without increasing the cost of each user added. It is suitable for extensive organizations that require many businesspeople to use Power BI to view dashboards and reports.
  • Power BI Report Server: It is a local server that enables your business to build BI plans on local hardware, and publish and share Power BI reports within the organization’s firewall.

Why Power BI alternatives?

Power BI is undoubtedly a very helpful analytical tool. But why do people still want to find alternatives?

  1. Power BI Desktop only supports Windows systems. It is available for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) platforms. For Mac users, this problem is undoubtedly somewhat discouraging.
  2. Embedded deployment is not supported (common Servlet). Data sources can only be through SQL Server Analysis Services.
  3. The Power BI desktop supports limited data sharing. If team users have more requirements for sharing and collaboration, they need to purchase the paid version of Power BI pro. The team may hesitate on budget issues because of the charges for value-added services.

Alternatives to Power BI and Comparisons

We recommend FineReport here as one of the alternatives to PowerBI. Next, we will compare the functions of the two. Remember, there is no absolute good or bad between the two types of software. The question is only about to fit or unfit. Read our comparison of PowerBI and FineReport, and I believe you can make a judgment on which is best for your needs.

FineReport-alternative to Power BI

Operating system

  • Power BI Desktop only supports Windows systems. PowerBI Report Server only supports Windows x64.
  • The FineReport designer supports Windows and macOS. Server can be deployed on Windows, Linux, Unix, and other systems.

FineReport is compatible with multiple operating systems. Power BI is not friendly to Linux/Unix developers.

Product architecture

Three different products of Power BI apply different architectures:

  • PowerBI Desktop–C/S
  • PowerBI Service–SaaS
  • PowerBI Report Server

What about FineReport? FineReport applies C/S architectures, and the designer and server are integrated. It means there is no need for clients to purchase multiple products.

Thus, FineReport offers a more economical choice, with one package for more services such as report design, deployment, web preview, etc.

Report designing

You may need diverse types of reports to satisfy different needs. 

However, modifying height and width of multiple cells is not easy by Power BI. Also, it does not support column break reports, data shape conversion.

Also, Finereport supports more customizations when designing reports. In FineReport, you can modify cell height, column width, font and background color, etc. 

Report designed by FineReport

The designer supports detailed report, group report, cross report, collapsed tree report, report pagination display, column break report, main sub-report, irregular report, report background setting, data format, and display conversion.

Data connection

In Power BI, there are two ways to create or import your own content: files and databases. The slight drawback here is that Power BI can not support the Java API dataset and built-in dataset. Besides, Power BI cannot generate a real-time integrated model of data from different data sources. It will automatically disable real-time modeling of multiple data sources.

In Finereport, we can have one report accessing multiple data sources.

Databases supported by FineReport

Data visualization

Power BI build-in charts include 24 types: stacked bar charts, stacked column charts, clustered bar charts, clustered column charts, etc. It also supports maps such as area, point, heatmap, flow map, and GIS map.

Compared with Power BI, Finereport has more built-in charts and 3D maps to help visualize the dashboard on large screens.  FineReport builds in charts including 19 types such as Bar, Column, Radar, Line, etc. Built-in 3D maps include 7 types. What’s more, it supports a combination of map and scatter/bubble/column, which Power BI does not.

Data visualization by FineReport

Authorization management

Power BI supports authorization based on only roles and users. However, it does not support cell-level security and cannot be used to assist corporate management on the authorization.

FineReport can handle corporate-level authorization and multi-dimensional user management. The report security level is in units of cells, which means clients can control whether report users can see specific cells, rows/columns, widgets, toolbar, charts, or not. 

  • Support authorization based on departments, positions, roles, and users
  • Support authorization reuse. This feature can help administrators to replicate the authorization of a department/position/role, which can greatly enhance the efficiency of authority allocation.
  • Support multi-level authority allocation, administrators at a certain level can only manage data, templates and users within their own scope of authority.
  • Support not only row-level security but even cell-level security, which can precisely control different people accessing the same report to view different cells or using different features, etc. 


Power BI Pro charges a minimum of $10 per user per month, and Power BI Premium charges at least $10 per user per month. You can also pay for services based on capacity, starting at USD 4,995 per month.

FineReport is free for personal use, and there’s no time limit for use.

Free Download

Also, it offers a flexible plan based on every company’s special needs. Feel free to request a pricing plan.


We summarized the pros and cons of Power BI and Power BI alternatives FineReport in 6 dimensions: operating system, product architecture, report designing, data connection, data visualization, authorization management. Hope this post is helpful to you.

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