Microsoft Power BI vs. Tableau ONLC Training Centers

If you’re looking for a data visualization tool, you have undoubtedly come across Tableau and Microsoft Power BI as potential solutions. Both provide most of the functionality that you would ever need, but a few characteristics might make one a better fit for your specific organization or project.

There are several factors to consider when making the best choice on a data visualization tool. Let’s compare some of the features and help you make the best decision based on your company’s needs.

Analytics and Visualization

If you’re looking for a means to serve as a data visualization tool without the need to manipulate data, then Tableau is probably the choice for you. If you’re looking for a much broader data analysis that includes a manipulation tool with some nice visualization tacked onto the front, then Power BI will probably work best.

Tableau provides many more features for data visualization, but Power BI is arguably more user-friendly and easier to use from day one. Also, Power BI supports integration with the rest of the Microsoft Office stack, which is a huge benefit in and of itself. If you’re already familiar with using Microsoft technology, then Power BI is probably the best choice.

Data Integration

Tableau will actually connect to more types of data sources than Power BI. However, Tableau does not work with all cloud technology-based data sources and is mainly a visualization tool that will allow you to analyze and draw conclusions from the data.

Power BI is known as the preferred tool to work with Microsoft Azure hosted data sources and includes more tools for the importation and manipulation of data.


Power BI offers a deployment model that scales from the desktop to the enterprise.  If your reports don’t require wide distribution, you can use Power BI Desktop. This free desktop version offers data modeling, reporting and visualization. To create interactive dashboards and share data across your organization, you’ll need to subscribe to Power BI Online which operates under the SaaS (Software as a Service) model either as a per user or per organization subscription.

Tableau can be installed on-premises and allows reports and visualizations to be deployed to both on-prem and cloud platforms. Tableau, however, is more expensive but provides good flexibility in its deployment options.


Tableau is the hands-down winner when it comes to the amount of functionality offered for data visualization. Power BI is catching up, but it is still more of a “business intelligence data manipulation and conversion tool” with some data visualization tools provided for analysis. But don’t let this discourage you from looking into Power BI because Microsoft is fully invested in the product and Power BI becomes stronger (and more functional) with every update.


If you’re looking for the best low-cost solution that provides the most value, then you will probably want to go with Power BI. In fact, Power BI is free with Office 365. While Tableau is much more expensive, it also has a 10-year head start on Power BI, so it provides more features and could potentially be better suited to your project. Tableau has long been regarded as the gold standard in data visualization and is often worth learning, but the startup cost and licensing can be quite prohibitive for smaller organizations.

Overall, both are extremely powerful data visualization tools. They are just very good at slightly different things and have characteristics which may make them better suited for certain organizations and situations.

TL;DR – Tableau is better for visualizations, while Power BI is a better data tool. Power BI is a better choice if you want to work with data stored in the cloud and is cheaper than Tableau. Tableau is considered to be the gold standard and the most feature-rich product.

When you’re ready, you can learn more about Power BI, Tableau, or both by signing up for training with ONLC. We provide more than 300 remote learning classroom locations around the country where you can come in and get valuable training on Tableau or Power BI. Contact us today and learn how you can get started on your way to becoming a data professional.

About The Author

Microsoft Certified Trainer and Consultant specializing in Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint, Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Office Development, and Crystal Reports. In Glenn's career as an independent consultant, he provided network design, implementation and administration, database development, support services and training for several firms in the greater Philadelphia area.

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