Overview of the Microsoft BI stack including Power BI, Azure & SQL Server plus the pros and cons

Author of ‘Data Science for Decision Makers & Data Professionals'
Author: Daan van Beek MSc
Author of ‘Data Science for Decision Makers & Data Professionals'
Table of Contents

In this piece we present a concise overview of our recently updated, independent BI & Analytics study of the software vendor Microsoft and its product portfolio (such as Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server). Microsoft BI & Analytics comes out on top in our research. Of all the categories in our research, Microsoft has the best performance in big data and has a poor performance in decision management. Within the context of BI & Analytics, we have put together the main advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft Business Intelligence, and arranged them by topic (business intelligence, big data, artificial intelligence and data science). We also point out the distinguishing features of the most popular products such as Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server et cetera.

How does Microsoft BI & Analytics score on certain components?

In our independent study we also judged the various tools of Microsoft BI & Analytics software. We examined no less than 720 aspects. The image below illustrates the pros and cons of Microsoft Business Intelligence, in general terms. Please note that Passionned Group is 100% independent of the suppliers in our guide. We do not sell licenses, we do not make deals or have any legal ties to the vendor. Among other things, we help and advise companies in the proper selection of BI tooling.

Score of Microsoft Business Intelligence software.Figure 1: The pros and cons of the software vendor Microsoft BI & Analytics. The best supplier on a particular topic gets a maximum of 100 percent. Source: the BI & Analytics Guide 2024. Do you want additional information about our research design? Click here to download this guide.

The Microsoft analysis was conducted by collecting large amounts of publicly accessible data and from there it was thoroughly analyzed. More than 9,305 documents were analyzed for this vendor. In this analysis process both algorithms and the critical eye of a senior BI expert had a crucial role in drawing conclusions.The BI & Analytics Guide™ The BI & Analytics Guide™In our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics Guide we have collected all the ins and outs of Microsoft for you. You get access to hundreds of (shorter) trainings, tech talks, lectures, demos, tutorials, and so on and always have the latest BI & AI news. In addition, this guide helps you in reinforcing your knowledge about BI & Analytics.Microsoft in our BI & Analytics Guide 2024

Microsoft and their complete BI & Analytics product portfolio

The company Microsoft knows (a minimum of) 39 products in the realm of BI & Analytics. In order of relevance we rank and describe the products below:

What is Microsoft Business Intelligence?

Under this heading, we report the (main) characteristics of Microsoft Business Intelligence, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Power Query, Microsoft AI, Microsoft Machine Learning, Microsoft R Server, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics, Microsoft Data Platform and Microsoft Flow Analytics. This product / group of products can be best defined by the following characteristics:

  • analysis
  • analytics
  • business intelligence
  • dashboards
  • data visualization
  • Microsoft 365
  • reporting
  • Sharepoint
  • SQL

Are you curious about all characteristics (100+) of Microsoft Business Intelligence? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Are you considering hiring a knowledgeable Microsoft Business Intelligence specialist?

Are you considering hiring an external consultant specialized in Microsoft Business Intelligence who can do a mountain of work for you and implement an Microsoft Business Intelligence application? Or do you want to develop an application for one of the related products like SQL Server? Our specialists are happy to assist you. Indeed, hiring Microsoft Business Intelligence developers is sometimes unnecessary and costly. Leave a message here and we will be happy to work for you.

Screen shot of Microsoft Business Intelligence software.
Picture of Microsoft Business Intelligence tools.
Microsoft Business Intelligence in action
Figure 2, 3 and 4: Overlying figures show the operation of Microsoft Business Intelligence. Click on an image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Other names by which this software product is known: Azure

Under this heading, we describe Microsoft Azure, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Azure Databricks, Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Lake, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Data Factory, Azure Data Studio, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Storage Explorer, Azure Data Warehouse, Databricks Delta Lake and Azure Advanced Analytics. This product / group of products can be best defined by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • cloud computing
  • cloud services
  • kubernetes
  • machine learning
  • R
  • serverless
  • SQL
  • Windows

Are you now curious about all properties (100+) of Microsoft Azure? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Azure software.
Picture of Microsoft Azure tools.
Microsoft Azure in action
Figure 5, 6 and 7: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of Microsoft Azure. Click on the image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Databricks?

Other names by which this software product is known: Databricks

In this section, we provide a description of Azure Databricks, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • Apache Spark
  • data science
  • infrastructure
  • java
  • machine learning
  • Python
  • R
  • SQL
  • TensorFlow

Do you want to know the intricacies of all characteristics (100+) of Azure Databricks? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Databricks software.
Picture of Azure Databricks tools.
Azure Databricks in action
Figure 8, 9 and 10: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of Azure Databricks. Click on an image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Synapse Analytics?

Other names by which this software product is known: Azure SQL Data Warehouse

In this paragraph, we report the (main) characteristics of Azure Synapse Analytics, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be defined by the following features:

  • analytics
  • analytics platform
  • Apache Spark
  • big data
  • big data analytics
  • data integration
  • data warehousing
  • enterprise data warehousing
  • serverless
  • SQL

Do you want to know everything about all elements (100+) of Azure Synapse Analytics? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Synapse Analytics software.
Picture of Azure Synapse Analytics tools.
Azure Synapse Analytics in action
Figure 11, 12 and 13: Several images show the operation of Azure Synapse Analytics. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Stream Analytics?

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we provide a description of Azure Stream Analytics, including some of its features and any related products. Azure Stream Analytics can be best characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • big data
  • real-time
  • real-time analytics
  • sensors
  • serverless
  • SQL
  • stream analytics
  • streaming
  • stream processing

Are you now curious about all the functionalities (100+) of Azure Stream Analytics? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Stream Analytics software.
Picture of Azure Stream Analytics tools.
Azure Stream Analytics in action
Figure 14, 15 and 16: Overlying figures show the operation of Azure Stream Analytics. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Machine Learning?

In this paragraph, we provide a description of Azure Machine Learning, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Azure Machine Learning Studio. The product Azure Machine Learning can be best characterized by the following characteristics:

  • analytics
  • Apache Spark
  • artificial intelligence
  • automated machine learning
  • machine learning
  • machine learning models
  • Python
  • SDK
  • web services
  • Windows

Are you curious about all the functionalities (100+) of Azure Machine Learning? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Machine Learning software.
Picture of Azure Machine Learning tools.
Azure Machine Learning in action
Figure 17, 18 and 19: Overlying figures show the operation of Azure Machine Learning. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.
What is Azure Machine Learning Studio?

In this paragraph, we provide a description of Azure Machine Learning Studio, including some of its features and any related products. The Azure Machine Learning Studio can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • Apache Spark
  • data science
  • deep learning
  • machine learning
  • machine learning models
  • predictive analytics
  • Python
  • TensorFlow

Are you now curious about all properties (100+) of Azure Machine Learning Studio? Open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Machine Learning Studio software.
Picture of Azure Machine Learning Studio tools.
Azure Machine Learning Studio in action
Figure 20, 21 and 22: These three images give a first impression of Azure Machine Learning Studio. Click on an image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Data Lake?

In this paragraph, we provide a description of Azure Data Lake, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be best characterized by the following properties:

  • analytics
  • big data
  • big data analytics
  • data lake analytics
  • data lakes
  • data science
  • repository
  • SQL
  • stream analytics
  • Teradata

Do you want to know the intricacies of all features (100+) of Azure Data Lake? In that case order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Data Lake software.
Picture of Azure Data Lake tools.
Azure Data Lake in action
Figure 23, 24 and 25: Overlying figures show the operation of Azure Data Lake. Click on an image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Cognitive Services?

In this paragraph, we describe the key elements of Azure Cognitive Services, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be characterized by the following characteristics:

  • analytics
  • cognitive services
  • computer vision
  • deep learning
  • machine learning
  • natural language
  • natural language processing
  • REST APIs
  • SDK
  • text analytics

Do you want to know the intricacies of all the functions (100+) of Azure Cognitive Services? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Cognitive Services software.
Picture of Azure Cognitive Services tools.
Azure Cognitive Services in action
Figure 26, 27 and 28: These three images give a first impression of Azure Cognitive Services. Click on the image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Data Factory?

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we display the details of Azure Data Factory, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be characterized by the following properties:

  • analytics
  • analytics platform
  • big data
  • complex data
  • data integration
  • data pipelines
  • HDInsight
  • R
  • serverless
  • SQL

Are you now curious about all elements (100+) of Azure Data Factory? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Data Factory software.
Picture of Azure Data Factory tools.
Azure Data Factory in action
Figure 29, 30 and 31: These three images give a first impression of Azure Data Factory. Click on an image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Data Studio?

In this part, we describe Azure Data Studio, including some of its features and any related products. The Azure Data Studio can be characterized by the following functionalities:

  • active directory
  • analytics
  • Apache Spark
  • authentication
  • data encryption
  • Linux
  • PostgreSQL
  • SQL
  • SQL database
  • Windows

Do you want to know the intricacies of all the functions (100+) of Azure Data Studio? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Data Studio software.
Picture of Azure Data Studio tools.
Azure Data Studio in action
Figure 32, 33 and 34: Overlying figures show the operation of Azure Data Studio. Click on an image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure IoT Hub?

In this section, we report the (main) characteristics of Azure IoT Hub, including some of its features and any related products. The Azure IoT Hub can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • cloud services
  • connectivity
  • data ingestion
  • IoT
  • operating systems
  • SDK

Are you curious about all characteristics (100+) of Azure IoT Hub? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure IoT Hub software.
Picture of Azure IoT Hub tools.
Azure IoT Hub in action
Figure 35, 36 and 37: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of Azure IoT Hub. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Storage Explorer?

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we describe the key elements of Azure Storage Explorer, including some of its features and any related products. Azure Storage Explorer can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • active directory
  • authentication
  • Blob storage
  • Cosmos DB
  • data management
  • Linux
  • repository
  • SQL
  • unstructured data
  • Windows

Are you now curious about all features (100+) of Azure Storage Explorer? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Storage Explorer software.
Picture of Azure Storage Explorer tools.
Azure Storage Explorer in action
Figure 38, 39 and 40: Overlying figures show the operation of Azure Storage Explorer. Click on an image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Data Warehouse?

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we describe the key elements of Azure Data Warehouse, including some of its features and any related products. The Azure Data Warehouse can be characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • analytics platform
  • big data
  • big data analytics
  • cloud data warehouse
  • data warehousing
  • enterprise data warehousing
  • parallel processing
  • SQL
  • SQL database

Are you now curious about all characteristics (100+) of Azure Data Warehouse? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Data Warehouse software.
Picture of Azure Data Warehouse tools.
Azure Data Warehouse in action
Figure 41, 42 and 43: Various figures show the operation of Azure Data Warehouse. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Databricks Delta Lake?

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we provide a description of Databricks Delta Lake, including some of its features and any related products. Databricks Delta Lake can be best characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • Apache Spark
  • data lakes
  • data science
  • Linux
  • machine learning
  • open source
  • SQL
  • streaming
  • unstructured data

Are you now curious about all elements (100+) of Databricks Delta Lake? Open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Databricks Delta Lake software.
Picture of Databricks Delta Lake tools.
Databricks Delta Lake in action
Figure 44, 45 and 46: Overlying figures show the operation of Databricks Delta Lake. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Azure Advanced Analytics?

In this paragraph, we report the (main) characteristics of Azure Advanced Analytics, including some of its features and any related products. Azure Advanced Analytics can be best defined by the following properties:

  • advanced analytics
  • analysis
  • analytics
  • Azure Analysis Services
  • big data
  • data warehousing
  • machine learning
  • real-time
  • real-time analytics
  • stream analytics

Are you curious about all elements (100+) of Azure Advanced Analytics? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Azure Advanced Analytics software.
Picture of Azure Advanced Analytics tools.
Azure Advanced Analytics in action
Figure 47, 48 and 49: These three images give a first impression of Azure Advanced Analytics. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Power BI?

Other names by which this software product is known: Microsoft Power BI, PowerBI

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we report the (main) characteristics of Power BI, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Power BI Desktop, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Premium, Power BI Report Builder, Microsoft Power BI Pro and Microsoft Power BI Enterprise. The Power BI can be characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • business intelligence
  • dashboards
  • data visualization
  • DAX
  • Microsoft 365
  • SaaS
  • share insights
  • tiles

Are you now curious about all the functions (100+) of Power BI? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Power BI software.
Picture of Power BI tools.
Power BI in action
Figure 50, 51 and 52: Several images show the operation of Power BI. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Power BI Desktop?

Other names by which this software product is known: Microsoft Power BI Desktop

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we display the details of Power BI Desktop, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be characterized by the following features:

  • analysis
  • analytics
  • data connectivity
  • data modeling
  • interactive data visualizations
  • interactive reports
  • Microsoft 365
  • reporting
  • visual analytics
  • Windows

Do you want to know everything about all elements (100+) of Power BI Desktop? Open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Power BI Desktop software.
Picture of Power BI Desktop tools.
Power BI Desktop in action
Figure 53, 54 and 55: Overlying figures show the operation of Power BI Desktop. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Power BI Report Server?

In this part, we report the (main) characteristics of Power BI Report Server, including some of its features and any related products. The Power BI Report Server can be best characterized by the following properties:

  • analytics
  • business intelligence
  • dashboards
  • data visualization
  • Kerberos
  • line charts
  • paginated reports
  • reporting
  • SQL

Do you want to know everything about all the functionalities (100+) of Power BI Report Server? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Power BI Report Server software.
Picture of Power BI Report Server tools.
Power BI Report Server in action
Figure 56, 57 and 58: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of Power BI Report Server. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Power BI Premium?

Under this heading, we display the details of Power BI Premium, including some of its features and any related products. The product Power BI Premium can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • big data
  • business intelligence
  • complex data
  • data management
  • data preparation
  • data visualization
  • Microsoft 365
  • self-service data preparation
  • share insights

Are you now curious about all the functions (100+) of Power BI Premium? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Power BI Premium software.
Picture of Power BI Premium tools.
Power BI Premium in action
Figure 59, 60 and 61: Several images show the operation of Power BI Premium. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Power BI Report Builder?

In this part, we display the details of Power BI Report Builder, including some of its features and any related products. The Power BI Report Builder can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • analysis
  • dashboards
  • data modeling
  • interactive data visualizations
  • interactive reports
  • open source
  • operational reporting
  • paginated reports
  • reporting
  • SQL

Are you curious about all characteristics (100+) of Power BI Report Builder? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Power BI Report Builder software.
Picture of Power BI Report Builder tools.
Power BI Report Builder in action
Figure 62, 63 and 64: These three images give a first impression of Power BI Report Builder. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Power BI Pro?

Other names by which this software product is known: Power BI Pro

In this part, we report the (main) characteristics of Microsoft Power BI Pro, including some of its features and any related products. Microsoft Power BI Pro can be defined by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • business intelligence
  • business intelligence platform
  • complex data
  • dashboards
  • data visualization
  • interactive data visualizations
  • Microsoft Teams
  • self-service BI
  • share insights

Are you now curious about all characteristics (100+) of Microsoft Power BI Pro? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Power BI Pro software.
Picture of Microsoft Power BI Pro tools.
Microsoft Power BI Pro in action
Figure 65, 66 and 67: Various figures show the operation of Microsoft Power BI Pro. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Power BI Enterprise?

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we describe the key elements of Microsoft Power BI Enterprise, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best defined by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • big data
  • dashboards
  • Microsoft 365
  • on-premises data gateway
  • real-time
  • real-time insights
  • self-service BI
  • share insights
  • SQL

Are you curious about all features (100+) of Microsoft Power BI Enterprise? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Power BI Enterprise software.
Picture of Microsoft Power BI Enterprise tools.
Microsoft Power BI Enterprise in action
Figure 68, 69 and 70: Various figures show the operation of Microsoft Power BI Enterprise. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft SQL Server?

Other names by which this software product is known: SQL Server

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we report the (main) characteristics of Microsoft SQL Server, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of SSAS, SSIS, SQL Server Reporting Services, SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Machine Learning and SQL Server Data Mining. The Microsoft SQL Server can be best characterized by the following properties:

  • analytics
  • big data
  • data management
  • data virtualization
  • machine learning
  • on-premises data gateway
  • reporting
  • SQL
  • SQL database
  • Windows

Are you curious about all characteristics (100+) of Microsoft SQL Server? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft SQL Server software.
Picture of Microsoft SQL Server tools.
Microsoft SQL Server in action
Figure 71, 72 and 73: These three images give a first impression of Microsoft SQL Server. Click on the image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SSAS?

Other names by which this software product is known: SQL Server Analysis Services, Analysis Services, Microsoft Analysis Services

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we describe SSAS, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be characterized by the following properties:

  • analysis
  • analytics
  • Azure Analysis Services
  • business intelligence
  • cube
  • decision support
  • Microsoft Excel
  • OLAP
  • reporting
  • SQL

Are you curious about all the functions (100+) of SSAS? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SSAS software.
Picture of SSAS tools.
SSAS in action
Figure 74, 75 and 76: Several images show the operation of SSAS. Click on an image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SSIS?

Other names by which this software product is known: SQL Server Integration Services

In this section, we report the (main) characteristics of SSIS, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best characterized by the following functionalities:

  • analysis
  • business intelligence
  • connectivity
  • data integration
  • data migration
  • data transformations
  • data warehousing
  • reporting
  • SQL
  • Teradata

Do you want to know the intricacies of all the functions (100+) of SSIS? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SSIS software.
Picture of SSIS tools.
SSIS in action
Figure 77, 78 and 79: Various figures show the operation of SSIS. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SQL Server Reporting Services?

Other names by which this software product is known: SSRS

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we portrait SQL Server Reporting Services, including some of its features and any related products. SQL Server Reporting Services can be best characterized by the following features:

  • business intelligence
  • dashboards
  • kubernetes
  • Linux
  • native
  • open source
  • paginated reports
  • reporting
  • SQL
  • Windows

Are you now curious about all characteristics (100+) of SQL Server Reporting Services? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SQL Server Reporting Services software.
Picture of SQL Server Reporting Services tools.
SQL Server Reporting Services in action
Figure 80, 81 and 82: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of SQL Server Reporting Services. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SQL Server Management Studio?

Under this heading, we provide a description of SQL Server Management Studio, including some of its features and any related products. The product SQL Server Management Studio can be characterized by the following functionalities:

  • active directory
  • analytics
  • authentication
  • data migration
  • infrastructure
  • Linux
  • open source
  • SQL
  • SQL database
  • Windows

Are you curious about all the functionalities (100+) of SQL Server Management Studio? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SQL Server Management Studio software.
Picture of SQL Server Management Studio tools.
SQL Server Management Studio in action
Figure 83, 84 and 85: Several images show the operation of SQL Server Management Studio. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SQL Server Machine Learning?

In this paragraph, we report the (main) characteristics of SQL Server Machine Learning, including some of its features and any related products. The product SQL Server Machine Learning can be defined by the following functionalities:

  • automated machine learning
  • big data
  • machine learning
  • machine learning models
  • machine learning server
  • open source
  • Python
  • R
  • SQL
  • Windows

Are you curious about all characteristics (100+) of SQL Server Machine Learning? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SQL Server Machine Learning software.
Picture of SQL Server Machine Learning tools.
SQL Server Machine Learning in action
Figure 86, 87 and 88: Several images show the operation of SQL Server Machine Learning. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is SQL Server Data Mining?

We don’t reveal everything here but, in this paragraph, we give you insight in the key behaviors of SQL Server Data Mining, including some of its features and any related products. SQL Server Data Mining can be best characterized by the following features:

  • algorithms
  • analysis
  • analytics
  • Azure Analysis Services
  • business intelligence
  • data mining
  • data mining wizard
  • Microsoft Office
  • predictive analytics
  • SQL

Are you curious about all features (100+) of SQL Server Data Mining? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of SQL Server Data Mining software.
Picture of SQL Server Data Mining tools.
SQL Server Data Mining in action
Figure 89, 90 and 91: Several images show the operation of SQL Server Data Mining. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Power Query?

Other names by which this software product is known: Power Query

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we provide a description of Microsoft Power Query, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best defined by the following functionalities:

  • analysis
  • business intelligence
  • connectivity
  • data connectivity
  • data discovery
  • data preparation
  • Microsoft 365
  • native
  • SQL
  • Windows

Do you want to know the intricacies of all the functionalities (100+) of Microsoft Power Query? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Power Query software.
Picture of Microsoft Power Query tools.
Microsoft Power Query in action
Figure 92, 93 and 94: Several images show the operation of Microsoft Power Query. Click on an image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft AI?

Other names by which this software product is known: Microsoft Artificial Intelligence

In this paragraph, we display the details of Microsoft AI, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Microsoft AI Platform. The product Microsoft AI can be best characterized by the following features:

  • advanced analytics
  • analytics
  • artificial intelligence
  • computer vision
  • machine learning
  • Microsoft 365
  • real-time
  • responsible AI

Do you want to know everything about all features (100+) of Microsoft AI? Download directly our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft AI software.
Picture of Microsoft AI tools.
Microsoft AI in action
Figure 95, 96 and 97: Various figures show the operation of Microsoft AI. Click on an image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft AI Platform?

In this part, we describe Microsoft AI Platform, including some of its features and any related products. This product can be best defined by the following functionalities:

  • AI models
  • artificial intelligence
  • cognitive services
  • data science
  • deep learning
  • machine learning
  • Microsoft 365
  • natural language
  • responsible AI
  • SQL

Are you curious about all elements (100+) of Microsoft AI Platform? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft AI Platform software.
Picture of Microsoft AI Platform tools.
Microsoft AI Platform in action
Figure 98, 99 and 100: Several images show the operation of Microsoft AI Platform. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Machine Learning?

In this section, we describe Microsoft Machine Learning, including some of its features and any related products. This product group consists of Microsoft Machine Learning Server. This product / group of products can be defined by the following features:

  • analysis
  • automated machine learning
  • big data
  • data science
  • deep learning
  • exploratory data analysis
  • machine learning
  • machine learning models
  • Python
  • Windows

Do you want to know everything about all characteristics (100+) of Microsoft Machine Learning? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Machine Learning software.
Picture of Microsoft Machine Learning tools.
Microsoft Machine Learning in action
Figure 101, 102 and 103: Several images show the operation of Microsoft Machine Learning. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Machine Learning Server?

In this section, we portrait Microsoft Machine Learning Server, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be characterized by the following features:

  • analytics
  • deep learning
  • Linux
  • machine learning
  • machine learning server
  • Python
  • R
  • SDK
  • SQL
  • Windows

Are you now curious about all the functionalities (100+) of Microsoft Machine Learning Server? Then download our BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Machine Learning Server software.
Picture of Microsoft Machine Learning Server tools.
Microsoft Machine Learning Server in action
Figure 104, 105 and 106: Several images show the operation of Microsoft Machine Learning Server. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft R Server?

Under this heading, we provide a description of Microsoft R Server, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best defined by the following features:

  • algorithms
  • analysis
  • analytics
  • analytics platform
  • big data
  • machine learning
  • machine learning server
  • open source
  • R
  • SQL

Are you curious about all the functionalities (100+) of Microsoft R Server? In that case open the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft R Server software.
Picture of Microsoft R Server tools.
Microsoft R Server in action
Figure 107, 108 and 109: Several images show the operation of Microsoft R Server. Click on the image to magnify. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics?

In this paragraph, we describe Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be best characterized by the following features:

  • ADFS
  • analysis
  • analytics
  • machine learning
  • Microsoft 365
  • MongoDB
  • real-time
  • sensors
  • threat analytics

Are you now curious about all the functionalities (100+) of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics software.
Picture of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics tools.
Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics in action
Figure 110, 111 and 112: Overlying images illustrate the functionality of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Data Platform?

In this section, we give you insight in the key behaviors of Microsoft Data Platform, including some of its features and any related products. The product Microsoft Data Platform can be best defined by the following properties:

  • analytics
  • data governance
  • data management
  • data management framework
  • data preparation
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Microsoft Teams
  • real-time
  • SQL

Do you want to know everything about all elements (100+) of Microsoft Data Platform? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Data Platform software.
Picture of Microsoft Data Platform tools.
Microsoft Data Platform in action
Figure 113, 114 and 115: Several images show the operation of Microsoft Data Platform. Click on an image to enlarge it. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

What is Microsoft Flow Analytics?

We do not display here all the features but, in this paragraph, we provide a description of Microsoft Flow Analytics, including some of its features and any related products. This product / group of products can be defined by the following functionalities:

  • analytics
  • flow analytics
  • radar charts
  • real-time
  • real-time data
  • serverless

Are you curious about all the functions (100+) of Microsoft Flow Analytics? Download the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here.

Screen shot of Microsoft Flow Analytics software.
Picture of Microsoft Flow Analytics tools.
Microsoft Flow Analytics in action
Figure 116, 117 and 118: Various figures show the operation of Microsoft Flow Analytics. Click on the image to make it bigger. Credits: Microsoft & partners.

Innovations of Microsoft Business Intelligence-tools and the version history

Recently, we see a negative evolution when it comes to BI & Analytics functionality and support for operating systems, cloud platforms and connectivity. The latest novelties are in the areas of data connectivity > Cloudera Impala, data discovery > data visualization > quadrants chart and data discovery > analysis > root-cause analysis > causal pathways.

We reviewed Microsoft’s current releases of its complete BI & Analytics proposition. Below you can see the progression of the versions of all the ones known to us BI & Analytics products of Microsoft:

  • Azure Data Factory: February 2023 January 2023 November 2022 October 2022 September 2022 August 2022 July 2022 June 2022 1
  • Azure Data Studio: 1.47 1.45.0 1.43.0 1.43 1.41.2 1.41 1.25
  • Azure Databricks: 30
  • Azure Machine Learning: February 2022 25
  • Azure Storage Explorer: 1.10.0 1
  • Azure Synapse Analytics: April 2023 March 2023 January 2023 July 2022 June 2022 May 2022 April 2022 March 2022 118
  • Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics: 1.9 1.8 1
  • Microsoft Business Intelligence: 2023
  • Microsoft Machine Learning Server: 9.4.7 9.4 9.3
  • Microsoft R Server: 2016 9.1.0 9.1 9.0.1 9.0 8.0.5
  • Microsoft SQL Server: 2022 2020 2019 2016 2014
  • Power BI: December 2023 November 2023 October 2023 September 2023 June 2023 May 2023 March 2023 December 2022 September 2022 2023 2022
  • Power BI Desktop: November 2023 October 2023 2.114.803.0
  • Power BI Report Server: September 2023 May 2023 January 2023 September 2022 May 2022 September 2021 May 2021
  • SQL Server Management Studio: 19.0.1 19 18.7 18.6 18.5 18.3 17.0 rc3 17
  • SQL Server Reporting Services: 2022 2019 2016
  • SSAS: 2022 2019 2017 2016 2012 2008
  • SSIS: 2023 2008 23 22.2

Behind each product we mention the version numbers, the most recent updates are listed first.

What are the licensing costs of Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server?

It is difficult to determine exactly what a license of Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server costs because it depends on the country, the number of users (or the number of CPUs in the case of server software), the connectors to data sources, and at what point in the year you request a quote. If you do this a few weeks before the end of Microsoft’s fiscal quarter, you may be in for a decent discount. In addition, it makes sense running the software in the cloud. You then only pay for what you use. The purchase cost of Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server may not be the largest cost item, but maintenance and support do return each year.

What makes Microsoft BI & Analytics worth considering

In our study, we see that Microsoft in the field of BI & Analytics software has several specific features which are worth weighing in a tool selection. This makes Microsoft Business Intelligence more or less unique: spatiotemporal causal pathways, pulse chart, expert analytics, data center analytics and data mining wizard.

The advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft Business Intelligence

Tag cloud of the Microsoft Business Intelligence tools.Figure 119: Tag cloud with the strength-weakness analysis of Microsoft BI & Analytics

In the following paragraphs, we name all the advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft BI & Analytics, Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server, et cetera. These are not necessarily definitive because: Microsoft can currently work to creating missing functionality at this time (such as support for push notification, automated analytics and CAS). In addition, documentation may lag behind current events.

Your opinion matters

Leave a review about Microsoft BI & Analytics here. Your experiences can then be included in an even more sophisticated assessment of the ratings of Microsoft Business Intelligence.

1. Microsoft Big Data

100%

Microsoft has an excellent score in our current BI & Analytics survey of the theme ‘Big Data’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research). The company scores 100% on this topic, compared to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: IoT, streaming, big data analytics, unstructured data, complex data, data lakes and Blob storage. In doing so, we assessed the following five products: Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Data Lake, Azure Synapse Analytics, Microsoft SQL Server and Azure Data Warehouse. In total, we examined 59 features within this discipline. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Big Data’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Study 2024.

2. Microsoft Data Connectivity

100%

Microsoft has an excellent rating in our independent BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘Data Connectivity’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, relative to other vendors. The following criteria were used: Sharepoint, connectivity, native, Teradata, Google Analytics, Amazon Redshift and PostgreSQL. In total, we examined 91 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Data Connectivity’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

3. Microsoft Data Governance

100%

The company has an excellent performance in our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics survey of the theme ‘Data Governance’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research). The score amounts to 100%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: data encryption and data acquisition layer. In total, we examined 91 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Data Governance’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

4. Microsoft Data Integration

100%

Microsoft has an excellent performance in our independent BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘Data Integration’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, compared to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: data warehousing, data hub, data virtualization and data integration platform. In doing so, we looked at the following three products: Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics and SSIS. In total, we examined 76 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Data Integration’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Study. Or take a deep dive in the following content:

5. Microsoft Multidimensional Models

100%

Microsoft has an excellent performance in our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics survey of the theme ‘Multidimensional Models’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: OLAP, DAX, ROLAP, MOLAP and tabular data models. In total, we examined 14 criteria in this category. Would you like to delve further into the topic ‘Multidimensional Models’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

6. Microsoft Performance Optimization

100%

The company has an excellent performance in our independent BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘Performance Optimization’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: in-memory and parallel processing. In total, we examined 29 selection criteria within this main theme. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Performance Optimization’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

7. Microsoft Real-time Analytics

100%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent rating in our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics survey on the section ‘Real-time Analytics’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: real-time, real-time data, data ingestion, near real-time, real-time insights, live connection and real-time big data. In doing so, we assessed the following two products: Azure Stream Analytics and Azure Advanced Analytics. In total, we examined 19 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Real-time Analytics’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

8. Microsoft Self-service BI

100%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent rating in our current BI & Analytics survey on the section ‘Self-service BI’ (for this section Microsoft comes out as the absolute market leader in our research) with a score of 100%, relative to other vendors. The following criteria were used: self-service data preparation, self-service reporting, self-service data discovery, self-service data analytics, self-service data visualization and self-service data exploration. In total, we examined 14 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Self-service BI’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

9. Microsoft Artificial Intelligence

99%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent performance in our objective BI & Analytics survey on the section ‘Artificial Intelligence’. The score amounts to 99%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: data science, Python, data mining, algorithms, natural language processing, cognitive services and computer vision. In doing so, we looked at the following two products: Microsoft AI Platform and Microsoft AI. In total, we examined 181 criteria in this category. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘Artificial Intelligence’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Study 2024.

10. Microsoft Business Intelligence

97%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent score in our objective BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘Business Intelligence’ with a score of 97%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: reporting, business intelligence platform, enterprise business intelligence and business process monitoring. In doing so, we looked at the following five products: Power BI, SSAS, Microsoft Power BI Pro, Microsoft Business Intelligence and SQL Server Reporting Services. In total, we examined 73 criteria in this category. Would you like to go into more depth with the topic ‘Business Intelligence’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Study 2024. Or take a deep dive in the following content:

11. Microsoft BI Infrastructure

96%

The company has an excellent performance in our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘BI Infrastructure’ with a score of 96%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: infrastructure, repository and open source. In total, we examined 162 features within this discipline. Would you like to learn more about the topic ‘BI Infrastructure’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide.

12. Microsoft Data Discovery

96%

The company has an excellent performance in our 100% vendor-independent BI & Analytics survey on the section ‘Data Discovery’ with a score of 96%, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: time series, data visualization, notifications, standard deviation, data storytelling and share insights. In total, we examined 398 criteria in this category. Would you like to delve further into the topic ‘Data Discovery’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide.

13. Microsoft Analytics

93%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent score in our objective BI & Analytics survey on the subject ‘Analytics’ with a score of 93%, relative to other vendors. We considered the following factors: analytics platform, customer analytics, retail analytics, marketing analytics, quality analytics, operations analytics and data center analytics. In doing so, we looked at the following five products: Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Data Lake, Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics and Microsoft SQL Server. In total, we examined 130 selection criteria within this main theme. Are you planning to specialize further in the topic ‘Analytics’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

14. Microsoft Mobile Business Intelligence

85%

Microsoft has an excellent performance in our study of the theme ‘Mobile Business Intelligence’, given that they score 85% on this, relative to other vendors. We looked at the following criteria, among others: Android, iPad, push notification, mobile analytics, mobile dashboards and mobile push notifications. In total, we examined 10 aspects in this category. Would you like to go into more depth with the topic ‘Mobile Business Intelligence’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

15. Microsoft Decision Management

81%

The vendor Microsoft has an excellent score in our recently updated, independent BI & Analytics study on the subject ‘Decision Management’ with a score of 81%, relative to other vendors. The following criteria were used: performance management and decision support. In total, we examined 30 features within this discipline. Would you like to go into more depth with the topic ‘Decision Management’? Then download here our BI & Analytics Guide 2024.

Want to know more? Then order the BI & Analytics Guide™ 2024 here

In which sectors is Microsoft BI & Analytics most active?

In our current BI & Analytics survey, we also looked at which industries a supplier operates in. These are the industries where Microsoft is most popular: biomedical, life sciences, pharma, pharmacy, restaurants, steel and utilities.

Microsoft software is most used by…

The BI & Analytics software from Microsoft is most often mentioned in combination with the following functions: data analysts, finance professionals and platform administrator.

Hire a seasoned Microsoft expert

Education and training course Microsoft BI & Analytics

We organize various courses in the field of BI & Analytics but can also provide specific Microsoft training, for example as incompany. In these sessions, we delve into various software applications including Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Microsoft SQL Server. Of course, such training is framed with the ideas of the intelligent, data-driven organization.

Final Verdict: Microsoft Business Intelligence scores eminent

Microsoft has a extensive product portfolio with which it scores eminent in our BI & Analytics survey. Microsoft BI & Analytics innovates (approximately) at an average rate of more than 15 features per year, is active (for now) in many different sectors, and has developed best in big data.

About Passionned Group

logo of Passionned Group, the Microsoft BI & Analytics specialistPassionned Group specializes in 100% independent BI & Analytics consulting and the implementation of BI & Analytics solutions. Our dedicated and passionate consultants help businesses and governments to advance as intelligent, data-driven organizations.

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