As you may have read on this website, I am a big fan of Microsoft Power BI. It is a free tool that allows business owners to slice and dice their data. These business owners can see reports from this data that would have been difficult to produce without the tool.
Based on my recommendation, you can imagine my discontent at the fact that after I updated to the new version, the software stopped working completely. Being a programmer, I can usually discover and fix many problems like this and I gave it the old college try. It didn't help. What's worse, the errors Power BI reports does little to help point me in the right direction.
In most cases, you would reach out to customer service or support and describe the problem. That is what I intended to do. Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of help that I could see. There is a support link. But, when I try to submit a ticket, I am told I need to upgrade to a paid version of the product.
Is This a Problem?
I found a few nibbles for the error online. The suggestions from these nibbles didn't work. Some were to repair the installation (did that), uninstall/reinstall (did that). I also read that running the software as an administrator would be a good workaround. Nope! Didn't work!
Changed My Outlook
My goal was to use this solution to help other businesses create reports. I went through training on the product. I loved everything about it. However, not getting the support I need is kind of a big deal. What happens if I take on some clients and Microsoft decides to issue updates and all my client's installations suddenly don't work?
I realize that I could pay for the upgrade. When I take on several clients, this was my plan. But, even when a company offers a free version of its product, it has to offer support to some degree. It doesn't have to be priority support. But, my initial analysis leads me to believe there is no support unless you upgrade to a paid version. Not cool!
Of course, this is classic Microsoft tactics. Shame on me for thinking things would be different. It does make me wonder about the viability of taking on new clients with this product. Even if I upgrade to a premium version, clients may not be so willing to do so. I could submit a ticket on my clients behalf, but if they are using the free version, the solution that Microsoft provides may be valid only for the paid version.
This Is a Real Bummer!
I had been so happy to find a solution that I could use to help businesses with their data insight. It would have been an easy sell to obtain clients by convincing them of the power of the software and the fact that it was free.
I haven't ruled out using the software, yet. I will continue my search and post on forums to see if others have solved this problem. It is frustrating to say the least. If I decide to scrap this solution, I'll have to seek out something similar.
I Am Not a Freebie Seeker, Really!
It's not that I am looking for free software. I get the features of software packages like Power BI are robust and designers of these packages deserve to be compensated. However, my goal with Data Science Review is for the benefit of my readers. I look to find the best solutions at the lowest costs possible.
Yes, this solution was free and that is what attracted me to it. However, I saw an opportunity for both data science professionals and small businesses to come up with solutions that could help their respective businesses. Data science pros can use the software to gain clients from small businesses. Small business owners would gain insights into their business without shelling out thousands of bucks.
Microsoft was the one making an attractive offer in the first place. They touted the fact that this software is completely functional and is free of charge. It would have been a smart move if only they offered some level of support on the free version of the product.
I'll keep you up to date about where I stand with my decision. I will continue in the short term, to find a solution. When I find it, I will publish it here. In the meantime, I wanted to make everyone aware about this situation to let you decide for yourself if this is a showstopper. I do have an older version of the software. However, that isn't good enough when you have clients who will update to the latest version. Besides, having the latest version of a stable release is good practice.
Should you reconsider using the software for your solutions? It's hard to say. I would caution you to proceed full steam ahead without at least considering this situation. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a production issue and you have little recourse. This is something that can happen when you rely on a third-party solution. It's something to keep in the back of your mind when evaluating solutions for you or your client!