Comparing Power BI Report Server and the Power BI service

Power BI Report Server and the Power BI service have many similarities and some key differences. This table explains which is which.

Features of Power BI Report Server and the Power BI service

Features Power BI Report Server Power BI Service Notes
Deployment On-premises or hosted cloud Cloud Power BI Report Server can be deployed in Azure VMs (hosted cloud) if licensed through Power BI Premium
Source data Cloud and/or on-premises Cloud and/or on-premises
License Power BI Premium or SQL Server EE with SA Power BI Pro and/or Power BI Premium
Lifecycle Modern lifecycle policy Fully managed service
Release cycle Once every 4 months Once a month Latest features and fixes come to Power BI Service first. Most core functionality comes to Power BI Report Server in the next few releases; some features only meant for the Power BI service.
Create Power BI reports in Power BI Desktop Yes Yes
Create Power BI reports in the browser No Yes
Gateway required No Yes for on-premises data sources
Real-time streaming No Yes Real-time streaming in Power BI
Dashboards No Yes Dashboards in the Power BI service
Distribute group of reports using apps No Yes Create and publish apps with dashboards and reports
Content packs No Yes Organizational content packs: Introduction
Connect to services like Salesforce Yes Yes Connect to the services you use with content packs in the Power BI service. In Power BI Report Server, use certified connectors to connect to services. See Power BI report data sources in Power BI Report Server for details.
Q&A No Yes Q&A in the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop
Quick insights No Yes Automatically generate data insights with Power BI
Analyze in Excel No Yes Analyze in Excel
Paginated reports Yes Yes Paginated reports are available in the Power BI service in preview in a Premium capacity
Power BI mobile apps Yes Yes Power BI mobile apps overview
ARC GIS maps No Yes ArcGIS maps in Power BI service and Power BI Desktop by Esri
Email subscriptions for Power BI reports No Yes Subscribe yourself or others to a report or dashboard in the Power BI service
Email subscriptions for paginated reports Yes No E-Mail delivery in Reporting Services
Data alerts No Yes Data alerts in the Power BI service
Row-level security (RLS) Yes Yes Available in both DirectQuery (data source) & Import mode
Row-level security in the Power BI service
Row-level security in Power BI Report Server
Full-screen mode No Yes Full-screen mode in the Power BI service
Advanced Office 365 collaboration No Yes Collaborate in an app workspace with Office 365
R visuals No Yes Create R visuals in Power BI Desktop and publish them to the Power BI service. You can't save Power BI reports with R visuals to Power BI Report Server.
Preview features No Yes Opt in for Power BI service preview features
Custom visuals Yes Yes Custom visuals in Power BI
Power BI Desktop Version optimized for Report Server, available for download with Report Server Version optimized for Power BI Service, available from the Windows Store Power BI Desktop for the report server

Power BI Desktop for the Power BI service

Next steps

Install Power BI Report Server