Install Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server

Learn how to install Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server.

To create Power BI reports for Power BI Report Server, you need to download and install Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server. This release is different from the Power BI Desktop used with the Power BI service. For example, the version of Power BI Desktop for the Power BI service includes preview features that aren't in the Power BI Report Server version until they're released. Using this release makes sure that the report server can interact with a known version of the reports and model.

The good news is that you can install Power BI Desktop, and Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server, side by side on the same computer.

Download and install Power BI Desktop

The easiest way to be sure you have the most up-to-date version of Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server is to start from the web portal of your report server.

  1. In the report server web portal, select the Download arrow > Power BI Desktop.

    Download Power BI Desktop from the web portal

    Or go directly to Microsoft Power BI Desktop (Optimized for Power BI Report Server - January 2019) in the Microsoft Download Center.

  2. In the Download Center page, select Download.

  3. Depending on your computer, select:

    • PBIDesktopRS.msi (the 32-bit version) or

    • PBIDesktopRS_x64.msi (the 64-bit version).

  4. After you download the installer, run the Power BI Desktop (January 2019) Setup Wizard.

  5. At the end of the installation, check Start Power BI Desktop now.

    It starts automatically and you're ready to go.

Verify you're using the correct version

It's easy to verify that you're using the correct Power BI Desktop: Look at the launch screen or title bar within Power BI Desktop. The title bar indicates the month and year of the release. Also, the Power BI logo colors are reversed, yellow on black instead of black on yellow.

Title bar for Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server

The Power BI Desktop version for the Power BI service doesn't have the month and year in the title bar.

File extension association

If you install both Power BI Desktop and Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server on the same machine, the most recent installation of Power BI Desktop has the file association with .pbix files. Thus, when you double-click a .pbix file, it launches the Power BI Desktop you installed most recently.

If you have Power BI Desktop and then install Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server, all .pbix files open in Power BI Desktop optimized for Power BI Report Server by default. If you would rather have Power BI Desktop be the default to launch when opening a .pbix file, reinstall Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Store.

You can always open the version of Power BI Desktop you want to use first. And then open the file from within Power BI Desktop.

Editing a Power BI report from within Power BI Report Server, or creating a new Power BI report from the web portal, always opens the correct version of Power BI Destop.

Considerations and limitations

Power BI reports in Power BI Report Server, in the Power BI service (http://app.powerbi.com), and in the Power BI mobile apps act almost exactly the same, but a few features are different.

In a browser

Power BI Report Server reports support all visualizations, including:

  • Custom visuals

Power BI Report Server reports don’t support:

  • R visuals
  • ArcGIS maps
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Power BI Desktop preview features

In the Power BI mobile apps

Power BI Report Server reports support all the basic functionality in the Power BI mobile apps, including:

  • Phone report layout: You can optimize a report for the Power BI mobile apps. On your mobile phone, optimized reports have a special icon Phone report layout icon, and layout.

    Report optimized for phones

Power BI Report Server reports don’t support these features in the Power BI mobile apps:

  • R visuals
  • ArcGIS maps
  • Custom visuals
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Geofiltering or bar codes

Power BI Desktop for earlier versions of Power BI Report Server

If your report server is an earlier version, you need the corresponding version of Power BI Desktop. Here's the previous version.

Next steps

Now that you have Power BI Desktop installed, you can start creating Power BI reports.

Create a Power BI report for Power BI Report Server
What is Power BI Report Server?

More questions? Try asking the Power BI Community