Microsoft has updated its preview version of Power BI for Office 365 with a natural language query tool plus preview add-ins for Excel with 3D mapping visualisations through Power Map and improved data search capabilities in Power Query.
Power BI for Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-hosted business intelligence (BI) tool, was announced back in July and a preview version for select testers has been available since the end of August.
The tool, a self-service BI solution delivered through Excel and Office 365, is aimed at giving users data analysis and visualisation capabilities to tease out deeper business insights from their data, Microsoft said.
The update delivers some features that Microsoft had previously discussed but not yet implemented in the Power BI for Office 365 Preview, such as the Q&A natural language search tool to search data using natural language queries and generate visualisations from the results.
Meanwhile, Power Map, formerly known as GeoFlow, and Power Query, formerly Data Explorer, are add-ins for Excel that enable users to generate 3D geospatial visualisations from data, and to search through both public data sets and those internal to the organisation, respectively.
Power Map has now been updated with new region-based visualisation tools that can be used to colour code geo-political areas including counties, states, countries and regions, Microsoft said.
Another new capability lets users create videos that can be optimised for various devices and platforms for sharing through social media, PowerPoint slides and Office 365. Meanwhile, Power Query now boasts improved online search capabilities plus an expanded number of available datasets including those from the Windows Azure Marketplace and Wikipedia.
The Power BI brand actually covers a number of products and services, including cloud-hosted Power BI applications with access to on-premise data; plugins for Excel such as Power Map and Power Query; and mobile BI apps for Windows tablets and Apple's iPad.
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