Power BI Embedded Pricing Simplified as Service Becomes Generally Available

Power BI Embedded is a new service available to developers or independent software vendors to allow them to embed Power BI dashboards into their applications.  Unlike the traditional Power BI per user subscription licensing, Power BI Embedded is based on consumption of reports by any user accessing the application.

Power BI Embedded

Microsoft has changed the pricing model as the service becomes generally available.  In the original pricing model, the price was per render of a dashboard or report.  1,000 “renders” was priced in preview at US $2.50.  In the new pricing model, pricing is now per “session”, e.g. each unique user connecting to a unique report.   Each of these sessions is now US $0.05 for a maximum 60 minute session.  If your application has 10 reports and a user accesses all 10 reports, that’s $0.50 charged.

The advantage of this new pricing model is easier methods for calculating the consumption costs – it was difficult to figure out how many renders of a dashboard were needed for an application and on average how many might be consumed by an end user.  With this model, it becomes easier to predict based on the number of users sessions you have in your application.

In addition, Microsoft has made development of reports free with an Azure subscription.  Developers can access their own reports for dev/test at no cost – only end user consumption is charged.

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When Migrating InfoPath 2003 or 2007 Forms, Watch out For Legacy JScript

JScript is a JavaScript variant used both by Microsoft browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer) and active scripting engines such as the Macro development engine within Office.  It was originally developed back in 1996 as part of Internet Explorer 3.0 to compete and co-opt JavaScript which was originally part of Netscape, the dominant web browser at the time.  Microsoft also has VB Script which is the default scripting language found in Office products for developing macros.

When migrating InfoPath 2003 or 2007 forms from previous versions, the original developer could have included some JScript code in the form.  This code responds to various events such as the form loading, clicking on buttons, changes to the form, etc.  If you try to load this form in the “latest” (InfoPath stopped being latest in 2013 when Microsoft stopped development on it), you will see this message if you look at the code:

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Any JScript that was embedded into the form won’t run and isn’t compatible with InfoPath 2013 – Microsoft dropped support for JScript in 2010.  You cannot even open the code to view it – the only option you have is to remove it.

If you want to keep this code, you’ll have to port it to C# by opening the form in a previous version of InfoPath (e.g. 2003 or 2007), scraping out the original JScript code and re-writing it as C# code. 

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Microsoft Adds Excel Support to the Office 365 REST API

Microsoft has added support for interacting with Excel documents, formulas and reporting through the Office 365 REST API.

Breakdown of tasks in a pie chart

Key scenarios that this could enable include:

  • Reading and writing data to an Excel document stored within Office 365
  • Calling an Excel formula for calculations
  • Having Excel online render a chart or graph based on Excel data

Code samples and documentation are available here.

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Grammar Checking and Spelling Goes Cloud in Word 2016

Microsoft has released a new service called “Editor” which provides the equivalent of the grammar and spell check in previous versions of Word.  Editor provides these tools now as a cloud based service that uses more advanced analytics and human experts to identify issues.

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The key advantage over the traditional spell check or grammar check features in Word is the Editor service will improve over time as it reads through and digests millions of supplied text samples and the rules and suggestions are augmented based on feedback from experts and users. 

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Microsoft Unveils New Bookings App for Office 365

Microsoft has unveiled a new application as part of Office 365 that enables businesses to provide bookings for appointments, orders or service requests online as a service to their customers.

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Bookings is available for First Release customers with roll-out world wide in the next few months. 

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Bookings represents an interesting return to anonymous, public facing web sites since Microsoft shut down the public facing web site as a service option in Office 365.  Customers will not need to authenticate or be an Office 365 customer themselves – they can book with a name and an email address.

Bookings also represents a move by Microsoft to provide more specialized, fit for purpose applications within Office 365 instead of focusing on generic platforms such as document management, search, etc. 

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Microsoft Revamps Office 365 Video Portal with new Microsoft Stream

Microsoft has revamped its Office 365 Video Portal, transitioning it to a new Azure based video services called Microsoft Stream.  In a similar way to how Microsoft has moved Power BI into its own service, Microsoft Stream represents an independent video service that can be used in conjunction with Office 365 or independently as an pure streaming service.

Getting started

The Office 365 Video Portal was baked into the Office 365 subscription plan – it’s not clear how the new Microsoft Stream will be priced either in conjunction with an existing Office 365 subscription plan or independent of such a plan. 

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Azure Data Warehouse is Released to General Availability

Microsoft has just announced the release of Azure Data Warehouse to general availability.  Azure DW is a fully managed data warehouse that leverages elastic and hyper scale database cloud technologies to provide massively scalable SQL capabilities. 

Azure SQL Data Warehouse uses an elastic massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture built on top of the industry-leading SQL Server 2016 database engine. It allows you to interactively query and analyze data using the broad set of existing SQL-based tools and business intelligence applications that you use today. It uses column stores for high performance analytics and storage compression, a rich collection of aggregation capabilities of SQL Server, and state of the art query optimization capabilities. With built-in capabilities such as Polybase, it allows you to query Hadoop systems directly, enabling a single SQL-based query surface for all your data.

Azure DW comes with a number of features including polybase for combining HD Insight and SQL queries, very fast scaling,  transparent encryption, auditing, threat detection and Active Directory integration. 

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Azure SQL Always Encrypted Now Generally Available

Microsoft has just announced that their “Always Encrypted” feature for Azure SQL has now been released to General Availability.

Always Encrypted allows you to consistently store columns of data within SQL tables as encrypted data.  The encryption/decryption happens at the .NET calling layer so that the underlying data at rest is always encrypted.  In order to encrypt/decrypt the calling application has to be registered, have sufficient permissions and access to the encryption keys.

By leveraging Always Encrypted, any DBA level access has no ability to decrypt the data without going through the application tier.  Any direct SQL call will result in encrypted data being returned.

Another advantage to this approach is selective column encryption – only columns specified by the schema are encrypted such as personal information, credit card numbers, etc.

Always in Encrypted in Azure SQL Database

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Updated Visio Stencil for Office 365 Just Released

Microsoft has updated its Visio Stencil for Office 365 that includes a number of symbols for building diagrams related to Office 365.   The stencils can be downloaded here.

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The stencils seem to work much better in this version in that the captions appear at the bottom instead of in the middle and they work properly with themes.

Old Version

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New Version

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However, I also notice that some of the shapes from the 2012 and 2014 versions have not been carried forward so you may still want these versions of the stencil and they are still available for download.

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Microsoft Launches New Integrated Dynamics Offering and New App Store for Partner Solutions

Microsoft has launched new versions of its ERP and CRM cloud offerings and coming soon will be integrating them into a single service – Dynamics 365.  In a similar way to Office 365 which integrates Exchange, SharePoint, Skype and Office, Dynamics 365 will provide integrated bundles of Dynamics CRM, NAV, and AX as cloud offerings.

In addition, Microsoft has a new app store for business solutions from third party vendors that can be deployed to the dynamics products.  Using the new AppSource, Dynamics users can easily pull in third party apps into their cloud offering as needed.

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