As soon as I get monthly Microsoft BI release news collected, I see yet another Tweet come through with more cool updates. Thus if a few more trickle in this week, I will add them to this post. You’d think that I’d get a heads up on news…HA! Honestly, sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. If you want to get the scoop as soon as I get it, please follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

In the PASS Summit 2014 key note, Microsoft shared that it was technically possible to roll out weekly releases to the new Power BI offering. I was skeptical (as always) but guess what? Weekly updates have been happening. It actually feels more like daily updates these days.

Sneak Peek of Future Power BI Designer

My favorite Power BI news in May 2015 came from Kamal Hathi’s session at IGNITE. In that session, Microsoft revealed a future version of Power BI Designer. Power BI Designer is a free desktop data discovery tool that unifies the “power” tools: Power Query for self-service ETL and data prep, Power Pivot for sophisticated data modeling and Power View for drag-and-drop visualization into one streamlined user experience. Let’s examine the shown image closely to see what is coming. (Tip: You can click on the image below to view the full size version.)

Power BI Designer Large

First of all, I see a truly sizzled up Power BI Designer user interface. I also see a data model icon that is third from the top on the black left sidebar. Making an informed guess, I am thinking that data model icon is most likely for visualizing semantic data model diagrams and authoring data models just like you can do in Excel Power Pivot today.

Moving over to the right side of the picture, I see more data visualization types and…I FINALLY see color control options! I also see search and additional controls for legends, labels, axes, data points and more. The control freak in me is admittedly more excited and impatient now for these upcoming Power BI Designer capabilities since I have seen them. When this version of Power BI Designer is released, I suspect that it will make a few waves in the hot data discovery market.

Game Changing Plug and Play Solutions

As you scan the Microsoft news across the broader data platform offerings from business intelligence, data discovery and advanced analytics to IoT and big data solutions, you will notice that they are all starting to gel together nicely. This month we saw Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL DW, Azure Data Lake, Azure Streaming Analytics, Azure ML and Revolution R, HDInsight (Hadoop) and Cortana all being shown with Power BI.


Azure SQL DW

One of the interesting demos that I saw from IGNITE was a preview of easy plug and play Azure SQL DW and the Power BI connector. The shown “direct connect” option, that does not require data copies, is just like the recently added Azure SQL Database, Azure Streaming Analytics, Analysis Services Tabular Model and other Power BI direct connect options that remove previous Power BI storage size limitations. Power BI is evolving into a much more “powerful” offering – pun intended. In my opinion, these kinds of quick, highly scalable and modernized end-to-end analytics solutions will be a game changer. I played with Google BigQuery and Amazon Redshift in the past when there weren’t similar Microsoft offerings. I can’t wait to get my mitts on Azure SQL DW!

Other Key Microsoft BI News and Releases

Developer Community Updates

Not only is the Microsoft team releasing updates, so is the growing Power BI Developer Community. If you are a developer that has news to include in my updates, please contact me. Here are few that I noted during the last month.


The following training sessions are already available. Keep an eye out for two upcoming series called Exploring Oceans of Data for BI & Analytics professionals and Brain Food Fun edutainment for everyone.