Please note that since I created the blog post, Microsoft have resolved the details below, and indicated that it was a known bug within Power BI.
So the content below is now no longer valid – 25 Jan 2017
What would you say that as it currently stands (Jan 2017) there is a way to distribute your Power BI Dashboards and reports that use Pro features to Power BI Free License and they would be able to use and consume them without having to purchase a Power BI Pro License?
I am sure you would say “How I can do this“. I show and explain this below.
I am going to show this by creating a Group Workspace using a Pro License that I have. I will then create a dashboard in the Group Workspace. After which I will then share this dashboard with another Power BI Account which is currently has a Free License
Creating a Group Workspace (Pro Feature)
The first step is for me to create a Group Workspace and upload my Power BI File.
I go into Power BI, then click on the + sign next to Group Workspaces
Next I give my Group the required details as shown below.
Once I clicked Save I am then presented with the following screen below.
And just to confirm that it is a Group Workspace which is a Pro feature is another image I have put in below.
I then uploaded my Power BI Desktop File into the World Wide Importers Group workspace.
Creating the Dashboard in the Group Workspace
Next is where I create my dashboard in the World Wide Importers Group Workspace.
As you can see below I created a New dashboard
Once completed and made some minor modifications this is what my dashboard looked like.
Sharing my Dashboard with another Power BI Free User
Next what I did was to share this dashboard from my World Wide Importers Group Workspace with another Power BI Account which currently has the Free License.
I then got the following notification that it was indeed shared.
Confirming that my Power BI Free User can view the Dashboard
The final step is to show that my Power BI user does have the Free License and can view the Dashboard that was created in the World Wide Importers Group Workspace (Which is a Pro Power BI Feature)
As you can see below the Power BI Free user that I shared it with, does have the Free License, which is shown by the Personal Storage size of 1GB
Now when the Power BI Free user clicks on Shared with me, they will then see the Dashboard I created earlier “WWI – Sales” in their list of Dashboards.
And then finally actually opening the Shared Dashboard they see the exact same Dashboard as earlier.
Sharing with External Users
What I did find during my testing is that whilst you can share with External Users it appears to work slightly differently than my example above which is a user within the same organization.
The thing to note here is that when I logged into my Power BI Free User account I did not see any Dashboards under the “Shared with me”
But I did get an email in my Inbox with a link
Once I clicked on the link I was then able to view the Dashboard.
I have shown above how you can use the Power BI Pro features using the Group Workspace and share the dashboard with a Power BI User account that has a Free License.
I am fairly certain that if you also had to have your On-Premise Gateway setup and configured to refresh the data for you (Another Pro feature) that the other Power BI Free User Accounts, would be able to view the refreshed data in their dashboards and reports.
I think that this currently works because when Sharing a Dashboard from “My Workspace” is currently considered a free feature, so when you are sharing a Dashboard via a Group Workspace it is effectively still “Sharing a Dashboard“.
And finally we have found this to quite effective not only from a cost perspective, in that we need fewer Power BI Pro User Accounts, but that in terms of how we have been rolling out our Power BI Dashboards and solutions, it is only the Power BI Developers and required people who require the Pro license, whilst the rest of the organization can use their Free licenses, which means that it can be shared with anyone in the organization.
NOTE: This current functionality might change at any time, as is currently correct as at Jan 2017.
NOTE II: I did get a confirmation from Eoin O’Sullivan – (Twitter) that it does not work with Row Level Security.