I have written a few times this year about Data Explorer, now called Power Query for Excel 2010 and 2013, in blogs New Data Explorer for Excel and Self-Service ETL Tool Options. I honestly feel that Power Query is the shining star of Power BI. Literally anyone who uses Excel and pulls in data for quick analysis or even for visualization in other Data Discovery applications can enjoy Power Query.

In the first Beta Preview versions, I was impressed with simple things like XML imports and the pivot/unpivot in the data load/preparation steps. I continue to be really pleased with all the investments that I am seeing in simple, practical yet incredibly helpful data querying and manipulation capabilities with many different types of structured and unstructured data sources. If you have not tried Power Query yet or kept up with all the enhancements this year, you are missing out on a good thing. You can download it and learn more about it on the Office web site.

With all the extremely frequent BI vendor updates, I simply can’t keep up reporting on all of them in long blogs but I will try to share quick bits to keep my loyal and ever growing reader base informed of what I feel is significant. I was just about ready to share a blog on SAP Lumira v1.13 and see a mere two weeks later v1.14 is coming – couple week release cycles from SAP – WOW!!! I have had Spotfire 6.0 to report on for over one month now, my homework is done and I am almost ready, more awesome Tableau material being developed and so on. Then I get November Updates to Power Query this week that are simply too good to sit in my blog backlog. It appears that Power Query and Power BI, just like SAP Lumira, is on a rapid release cadence. From what I have seen it looks like a monthly release cycle. I hinted years ago these faster Microsoft BI releases were coming in my SharePoint 2010 talks relating the future to be like Azure-world. Now faster releases are indeed a reality. Is it sassy to say that I told you so years later? I will have to do a webinar and video on Power Query soon. If you love data, you will love Power Query.

Here is a quick summary of highlighted Power Query updates:

– Sharing of Queries (LOVE THIS FEATURE – a little like SSRS Shared Data Sets)
Certify shared queries (great for self-service data governance)
– Add users to the Data Steward Role (to certify shared queries)
– View and manage queries in an Excel workbook
– Improved search experience
– Expanded number of available datasets including Dun & Bradstreed (D&B)
– New Search Tools and Cancel Search
– Merge multiple queries
– Import data using Native Database Query
– Connect to Windows Azure Table Storage sources
– Directly select a table and load it into your workbook
– Import multiple items from the same source in a single shot
– Specify the Load Settings for each of your queries upfront
– Use the Query Editor ribbon to perform reshape operations
– Added support for 20 additional languages in this release (37 in total)
– Store credentials for data sources associated with a data management gateway
– Restore a gateway on another computer for fail over scenarios

For more information, please review: What’s new for Power BI Excel Help topic.