Comparing Power BI vs Tableau as Data Visualization Tools

By:   |   Updated: 2022-12-07   |   Comments   |   Related: > Power BI


Problem

Microsoft Power BI vs Tableau, that is the question. Which data visualization tool is better for reporting, data analysis and business intelligence?

Solution

This tutorial will compare Power BI and Tableau in different areas like price, functionality, platforms, user interface, ease of use and more. This will give you a guide as to which business intelligence tool might make more sense for your environment.

Tableau vs. Microsoft

Tableau is a newer company compared to Microsoft. It was founded in 2003 and specializes in BI and data visualization in general. This company was founded by Christian Chabot, Chris Stolte, and Pat Hanrahan, who were experts in data visualization at Stanford University.

Microsoft, on the other hand, was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. Microsoft is the largest software company in the world, as you can see from the listing of Top 10 Software Companies:

  1. Microsoft
  2. Oracle
  3. SAP
  4. IBM
  5. Salesforce
  6. Adobe
  7. Fiserv
  8. ADP
  9. Dell
  10. Broadcom

Microsoft loves to integrate its tools, so it may win in the long run, in popularity. Currently, Power BI is part of the Power Platform as shown below.

Power Apps

Power BI is part of the Power Apps or Microsoft 365 E5. So, many companies have Power BI included with other Microsoft products. If your company has Microsoft 365 E5, you also have Power BI included as shown below.

Office 365 E5

Many companies currently have Microsoft 365 accounts, so they can take advantage of Power BI as part of the Microsoft suite of applications. On the other hand, Tableau has to be acquired separately.

Pricing Info

The prices in Tableau are easier to understand than Power BI because we can purchase Power BI with other Microsoft tools, which can reduce the licensing cost.

Tableau

Individual licenses are $70 USD per month.

Tableau price for individuals

Teams and organizations will pay the following:

corporative license

As you can see, there are additional options. Tableau Explorer is used to explore trusted data and answer questions using an analytics service, while Tableau Viewer is used to visualize dashboards and interact with them.

You can have Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud (recommended), both have the same price structure.

If you buy a Small Business license, the prices are the following:

tableau license options

For the Enterprise license, the prices are the following:

tableau license options

Note the + and – options to add or reduce the number of licenses if necessary.

Microsoft Power BI

Now let’s look at the Power BI prices.

Microsoft offers lower prices for Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium editions:

Power BI prices

Power BI Pro is per user and the Power BI Premium is per organization.

The License per capacity has no limit of users. If your company is big, this can save you a lot of money. This license helps you to share dashboards and reports to all members within the company without each member needing a paid Power BI license. This license can auto-scale and improve performance if necessary.

Deploying Reports and Interface

Tableau

This is what the Tableau interface looks like.

tableau interface

In order to publish a Workbook in Tableau, refer to this link:

Power BI

Here is the interface for Power BI.

Transform data

And here is a sample report.

New Visual

In order to publish reports for Power BI, please refer to these articles:

Trial Editions

Tableau

You can use Tableau Public which is free. Also, Tableau desktop offers a trial for 14 days. Tableau public offers public data while the Desktop version is private. You have a limited number of data sources supported in Tableau Public like Excel, text files, JSON, PDF, special files, statistical files, OData, and web. Also, the public version does not support data updates in real-time.

Power BI

There is a Power BI Free license. This license does not allow sharing or collaboration.

Add-Ons to Extend Features

Tableau

For Tableau, we have several extensions available at this link:

Power BI

In Power BI you can integrate external tools. The following article shows how to do it:

Also, you can import new visuals in Power BI reports. The following article explains how to import visuals:

There are also extensions to work with bubbles, special filters, work with CSS Classes, Key Finder, and several extra tools as shown below.

power bi dashboard extensions

Which is More Popular

Looking at Google Trends, we have this chart for Power BI Software that has grown fairly consistently since 2014:

Power BI friends

On the other hand, for Tableau software, we have this chart from 2004 to 2022:

Tableau trends

As you can see from these charts, the popularity of Power BI searches is still growing. Tableau searches have been on a decline, but that may change if Tableau increases its product awareness.

Tableau is still very popular and there are several jobs for this technology. However, in general, the number of jobs for Power BI is higher. I tried looking for jobs in Upwork and found 716 jobs for Power BI.

Power BI jobs

I found 342 jobs for Tableau.

Tableau jobs

You will generally find more jobs and activity online about Power BI. However, Tableau is still one of the most important BI tools used in the market. Learning both tools (which are not so different) may be beneficial for your CV.

Scripting Language

Tableau

Tableau supports Python and R.

Here is additional information:

Power BI

 Power BI supports R and Python. Here are some related articles:

Supported Data Sources

Tableau

According to the documentation, Tableau supports these various data sources:

  1. Microsoft Excel
  2. Text File
  3. Microsoft Access
  4. JSON File
  5. PDF File
  6. Spatial File
  7. Statistical File
  8. Other Files
  9. Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud
  10. Actian Matrix
  11. Actian Vectorwise
  12. Alibaba AnalyticDB for MySQL
  13. Alibaba Data Lake Analytics
  14. Alibaba MaxCompute
  15. Amazon Athena
  16. Amazon Aurora for MySQL
  17. Amazon EMR Hadoop Hive
  18. Amazon Redshift
  19. Anaplan
  20. Apache Drill
  21. Aster Database
  22. Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2
  23. Azure SQL Database
  24. Azure SQL Synapse Analytics
  25. Box
  26. Cloudera Hadoop
  27. Databricks
  28. Datorama by Salesforce
  29. Denodo
  30. Dremio by Dremio
  31. Dropbox
  32. Esri Connector
  33. Exasol
  34. Firebird 3
  35. Google Ads
  36. Google Analytics
  37. Google BigQuery
  38. Google Cloud SQL
  39. Google Drive
  40. Google Sheets
  41. Hortonworks Hadoop Hive
  42. IBM BigInsights
  43. IBM DB2
  44. IBM PDA (Netezza)
  45. Impala
  46. Intuit QuickBooks Online
  47. Kognitio
  48. Kyvos
  49. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  50. MapR Hadoop Hive
  51. MariaDB
  52. Marketo
  53. MarkLogic
  54. Microsoft Analysis Services
  55. Microsoft PowerPivot
  56. Microsoft SQL Server
  57. MonetDB
  58. MongoDB BI Connector
  59. MySQL
  60. OData
  61. OneDrive
  62. Oracle
  63. Oracle Eloqua
  64. Oracle Essbase
  65. Oracle Netsuite
  66. Pivotal Greenplum
  67. PostgreSQL
  68. Presto
  69. Progress OpenEdge
  70. Qubole Presto
  71. Salesforce
  72. Customer Data Platform
  73. Marketing Cloud
  74. Splunk
  75. SAP HANA
  76. SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse
  77. SAP SuccessFactors
  78. SAP Sybase ASE
  79. SAP Sybase IQ
  80. ServiceNow ITSM
  81. SharePoint Lists
  82. SharePoint Lists (JDBC)
  83. SingleStore
  84. Snowflake
  85. Spark SQL
  86. Teradata
  87. Teradata OLAP Connector
  88. TIBCO Data Virtualization (Cisco Information Server)
  89. Vertica
  90. Web Data Connector
  91. Other Databases (JDBC)
  92. Other Databases (ODBC)

Power BI

Power BI supports these various data sources:

  1. SQL Server database
  2. Access database
  3. SQL Server Analysis Services database
  4. Oracle database
  5. IBM Db2 database
  6. IBM Informix database (Beta)
  7. IBM Netezza
  8. MySQL database
  9. PostgreSQL database
  10. Sybase database
  11. Teradata database
  12. SAP HANA database
  13. SAP Business Warehouse Application Server
  14. SAP Business Warehouse Message Server
  15. Amazon Redshift
  16. Impala
  17. Google BigQuery
  18. Vertica
  19. Snowflake
  20. Essbase
  21. Actian (Beta)
  22. Amazon Athena
  23. AtScale cubes
  24. BI Connector
  25. Data Virtuality LDW
  26. Denodo
  27. Dremio Software
  28. Dremio Cloud (Beta)
  29. Exasol
  30. Indexima
  31. InterSystems IRIS (Beta)
  32. Jethro (Beta)
  33. Kyligence
  34. Linkar PICK Style / MultiValue Databases (Beta)
  35. MariaDB
  36. MarkLogic
  37. TIBCO(R) Data Virtualization
  38. Azure SQL Database
  39. Azure Synapse Analytics SQL
  40. Azure Analysis Services database
  41. Azure Database for PostgreSQL
  42. Azure Blob Storage
  43. Azure Table Storage
  44. Azure Cosmos DB
  45. Azure Data Explorer (Kusto)
  46. Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2
  47. Azure Data Lake Storage Gen1
  48. Azure HDInsight (HDFS)
  49. Azure HDInsight Spark
  50. HDInsight Interactive Query
  51. Azure Cost Management
  52. Azure Databricks
  53. Azure Synapse Analytics workspace (Beta)
  54. Azure Time Series Insights (Beta)
  55. SharePoint Online List
  56. Microsoft Exchange Online
  57. Dynamics 365 Online (legacy)
  58. Dynamics 365 (Dataverse)
  59. Dynamics NAV
  60. Dynamics 365 Business Central
  61. Dynamics 365 Business Central (on-premises)
  62. Azure DevOps (Boards only)
  63. Azure DevOps Server (Boards only)
  64. Salesforce Objects
  65. Salesforce Reports
  66. Google Analytics
  67. Adobe Analytics
  68. appFigures (Beta)
  69. Data.World - Get Dataset (Beta)
  70. GitHub (Beta)
  71. LinkedIn Sales Navigator (Beta)
  72. Marketo (Beta)
  73. Mixpanel (Beta)
  74. Planview Enterprise One - PRM (Beta)
  75. QuickBooks Online (Beta)
  76. Smartsheet
  77. SparkPost (Beta)
  78. SweetIQ (Beta)
  79. Planview Enterprise One - CTM (Beta)
  80. Zendesk (Beta)
  81. Asana (Beta)
  82. Assemble Views
  83. Automation Anywhere
  84. Automy Data Analytics (Beta)
  85. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights (Beta)
  86. Emigo Data Source
  87. Entersoft Business Suite (Beta)
  88. eWay-CRM
  89. FactSet Analytics
  90. Palantir Foundry
  91. Funnel
  92. Hexagon PPM Smart API
  93. Industrial App Store
  94. Intune Data Warehouse (Beta)
  95. Projectplace for Power BI
  96. Product Insights (Beta)
  97. Profisee (Beta)
  98. Quick Base
  99. SoftOne BI (Beta)
  100. Spigit (Beta)
  101. TeamDesk (Beta)
  102. Webtrends Analytics (Beta)
  103. Witivio (Beta)
  104. Viva Insights
  105. Zoho Creator (Beta)
  106. Web
  107. SharePoint list
  108. OData Feed
  109. Active Directory
  110. Microsoft Exchange
  111. Hadoop File (HDFS)
  112. Spark
  113. Hive LLAP
  114. R script
  115. Python script
  116. ODBC
  117. OLE DB
  118. Acterys : Model Automation & Planning (Beta)
  119. Amazon OpenSearch Service (Beta)
  120. Anaplan Connector Autodesk Construction Cloud (Beta)
  121. Solver
  122. BitSight Security Ratings
  123. BQE Core
  124. Bloomberg Data and Analytics
  125. Cherwell (Beta)
  126. Cognite Data Fusion
  127. Delta Sharing
  128. Eduframe (Beta)
  129. EQuIS (Beta)
  130. FactSet RMS (Beta)
  131. FHIR
  132. Google Sheets (Beta)
  133. Information Grid (Beta)
  134. Jamf Pro (Beta)
  135. Kognitwin
  136. MicroStrategy for Power BI
  137. OpenSearch Project (Beta)
  138. Paxata
  139. QubolePresto (Beta)
  140. Roamler (Beta)
  141. SIS-CC SDMX (Beta)
  142. Shortcuts Business Insights (Beta)
  143. SingleStore Direct Query Connector 1.0 (Beta)
  144. Siteimprove
  145. Socialbakers Metrics 1.1.0 (Beta)
  146. Starburst Enterprise
  147. SumTotal
  148. SurveyMonkey (Beta)
  149. Microsoft Teams Personal Analytics (Beta)
  150. Tenforce (Smart)List
  151. Usercube (Beta)
  152. Vena
  153. Vessel Insight
  154. Zucchetti HR Infinity (Beta)
  155. Blank Query

Power BI has 155 data sources registered in the documentation, while Tableau has 92.

Query Languages

Tableau

MDX is used by Tableau.

Power BI

DAX is used for Power BI.

In general, MDX is harder to learn and DAX is similar to Excel functions, but for complex queries DAX can also be complicated.

Certifications for Tableau and Power BI

Tableau

There are several certifications for Tableau:

For partners, you have these certifications:

Power BI

For Power BI, the main exam is the PL-300 Exam. Another certification is the DP-500 which requires Power BI plus other technologies:

Which Tool is Better - Key Differences

I love the Power BI interface, it looks modern, fresh and is user-friendly. The learning curve for Power BI is also shorter than Tableau.

I think Tableau is less intuitive and harder to learn. However, Tableau has been available longer providing more options. You can create more sophisticated reports if you have good knowledge of Tableau.

When it comes to performance, Tableau is the best option. It is faster for a high volume of data. In general, the experts recommend Tableau for medium to large companies and Power BI for small to medium companies.

In general, you can use both tools for almost the same purposes. There is no one perfect answer between these tools; both are fantastic. If you want more advanced features and a more complex and sophisticated tool, use Tableau. If you want an intuitive and easy to learn tool, work with Power BI. Power BI also has an easier learning curve. Another factor that may influence your decision is the price. In general, Power BI is a cheaper option. Finally, verify the Data Sources that you need to support.

We can say that the best tool for reporting, analytics, and business intelligence is Tableau. It is more sophisticated and it includes more options to get the information and analyze the data. It is harder to learn and use, but once you understand it, it is a very powerful tool.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Daniel Calbimonte Daniel Calbimonte is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP, Microsoft Certified Trainer and 6-time Microsoft Certified IT Professional. Daniel started his career in 2001 and has worked with SQL Server 6.0 to 2022. Daniel is a DBA as well as specializes in Business Intelligence (SSIS, SSAS, SSRS) technologies.

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Article Last Updated: 2022-12-07

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