Hey, Cortana; Show me Power BI

The proliferation of Power BI across the Microsoft ecosystem is astounding and Power BI keeps popping up in the most interesting places like live streaming dashboards in Cortana Analytics and just recently on the Windows 10 desktop.  Power BI is so much more than a simple data visualization tool for desktop data and social media streams.  With the Windows 10 Cortana integration, you simply ask Cortana a question and the answer is visualized in the search results window above the Start button.  Any published datasets you choose are added to the list of all the stuff Cortana checks when you ask her questions.  A link below the visual takes you to your Power BI dashboard in the web browser to interact, add fields & filters, change the visual; and pin the results to the dashboard if you like.

I’ve made a quick video to demonstrate how it works.  By the way, you can just type your questions instead of speaking them to Cortana.  Questions are sent to the Power BI Q&A feature for the datasets you chose to integrate from your subscription.

The Windows 10 “Threshold 2” update a couple weeks ago introduces Power BI integration with Cortana on the desktop.  I checked for non-critical updates on my desktop machine like I often do each Sunday an Windows Update tells me that the update is ready to download and install:

image

This is a substantial update that took a while – and a few system reboots – to install.  Once the system is updated, you need to make sure the user account you use for your Power BI subscription is integrated with Windows 10 using the Settings > Accounts page in Windows…

SNAGHTML68c9f55

After that, Cortana integration should show up in your Power BI tenant online.  In the settings page, check the “Enable Cortana…” box for each dataset you want to integrate.

image

Interacting with Power BI is now a simple matter of asking Cortana  questions that line-up with objects in the published model, just as you would using the Q&A feature from a dashboard in the web browser.  In most cases, you’ll want to navigate from the Windows search results window to the full page view by using the “Show more details in Power BI” link.

image