Today Microsoft announced some very big updates to Power BI that will make it more like the product I have been hoping for since it was first announced.
First off the new PowerBI.com site has launched in Preview mode with lots of info on all of these new features.
Also today we got the Preview download of the Power BI Designer that allows for the design and viewing of Power BI solutions in a standalone application. Before you get too excited this first Preview release of the Power BI Designer only does Power Query and Power View functions, no Power Pivot or Power Map yet (hopefully those will be added in future releases). You can use existing Power Pivot models as a source, but you
will not be able to update those Power Pivot models until a future release. I think that this new application will finally give us the unified development environment we have been looking for to do Power BI solutions.
Also added today to Power BI is the Preview release of connecting to onsite SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular models. This is a Preview release as well, but can be accessed from the existing Power BI online tools and the new Power BI Designer.
Power BI Dashboards was also added to the feature list along with a few new visualizations (combo charts, fill maps, gauges, tree maps and funnel charts). A bunch of new data sources were also added with built-in support: Github, Salesforce, SendGrid, Zendesk, Dynamics CRM, and Marketo.
And the Power BI app for Apple iPad was announced that it would be available in the Apple AppStore sometime today (12/19). There was still not a link to go directly to the Apple AppStore as of late this afternoon, so this may not show up until after the new year since Apple is shutting down AppStore updates for the holidays very soon.
Reading between the lines a bit on all of this it looks like Power BI is being positioned as a full standalone application that will no longer require Excel 2010/2013, Office 365 or even SharePoint (on-prem or online). I think that this is exactly what Power BI needs to become a much more accepted application in the Enterprise and I for one am very excited about the possibilities now!