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Monday, July 08, 2013
Microsoft Introduces Power BI for Office 365


Microsoft today announced a new offering that builds on its cloud-first data platform -- Power BI for Office 365.

Unveiled this morning by Satya Nadella, President of the Server and Tools Business, during his keynote at Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Power BI for Office 365 is a new self-service business intelligence (BI) solution delivered through Excel and Office 365 which provides information workers with data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify business insights from their on-premises and cloud data.

Power BI for Office 365 brings self-service BI solutions to business users through Excel.

A few years ago Microsoft released data modeling and visualization capabilities with Power Pivot and Power View. These tools can create flexible models, process millions of rows of data in split second times, and help business users discover and share new insights with colleagues through interactive charts and graphs. To complement these existing Excel capabilities Microsoft is introducing Power Query (formerly Project codename "Data Explorer") and Power Map (formerly Project codename "GeoFlow").

Power Query helps users discover, access, and combine their data while Power Map allows users to create 3D geospatial visualizations in Excel. Business users can now search for new data sets both inside and outside their company that can be combined and analyzed within Excel. These new tools make it easy to connect to traditional structured data but also allows business users to connect to a Hadoop cluster in a company's data center or to Windows Azure HDInsight in the cloud.

New capabilities include:

- A Data Management Gateway which enables IT to build connections to on-premise data sources and schedule refreshes. Business users always have the most up to date reports, whether on their desktop or over their device.

- BI Sites, dedicated workspaces optimized for BI projects, which allow business users to quickly find and share data and reports with colleagues and collaborate over BI results.

- Real-time access to BI Sites and data no matter where a user is located via mobile devices. Customers can access their data through the browser in HTML5 or through touch-optimized mobile applications for Windows 8, Windows RT, Surface and iPad devices.

- A natural language query experienced called Q&A which allows users to ask questions of their data and receive immediate answers in the form of an interactive table, chart or graph.

The public preview of Power BI for Office 365 will be available this summer.

More from WPC 2013

Staying at Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Tami Reller, Windows CMO and CFO, mentioned that Microsoft has more than 20 million enterprise evaluations and that Windows 8 has logged 60 billion hours of use.

Tami also announced that Windows 8.1 RTM will be available for OEM partners in late August. This means OEMs will be able to get the RTM bits and begin preparing devices with Windows 8.1 just in time for the holidays.

Jensen Harris joined Tami on stage to show off Windows 8.1. In his demo, he showed off some new features and functionality, including how Windows 8.1 is optimized to work on small-form-factor devices and portrait view. He also demoed the Reading List app that lets you share articles from the web and content from other apps to read later which roams with you across your Windows devices through the cloud courtesy of SkyDrive. He also demoed a different kind of search for music integrated with Xbox Music where you can share a webpage to the Xbox Music app where it "scrapes" the webpage for mentions of songs to create a playlist for you based on the music mentioned on a webpage. And finally, Jensen demoed for the first time new technology built into Windows 8.1 called Miracast that streams HD video and audio over Wi-Fi to another display like a TV. With Surface Pro, he essentially turned a TV into a whiteboard with the OneNote app.

Tami also announced that in January 2014, we will be launching the User Experience Design Competency. This competency will provide a way for Microsoft's partners to train their designers and get recognized for their expertise with the Microsoft Design Language.

Finally, she announced a new program called TouchWins - Microsoft's new commercial channel incentive for featured Windows devices. Through this program, the company will provide incentives to authorized distributor and reseller partners who sell Featured PCs and tablets with Windows 8 Pro and touch.


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