Using Power BI at Events


One of the issues we seem to run into regularly when we try to have attendees use Power BI at events like dev camps or hackathons is the messy account provisioning process.

I THINK I have this figured out, but I’m happy to take insights from anybody else if they have them.

The Video

I have published a video on Channel 9, “Signing up for Power BI“, that walks through the issues and solutions below. If you prefer to read about it rather than watch it, skip the video and scroll down!!

The Problem

  1. People can NOT sign up for Power BI using a “personal email address”.  That includes addresses from,, etc.  The reason why appears to be that Power BI uses Azure Active Directory behind the scenes, and it cannot add accounts for the public personal email services like or    That means that all of the other guidance we give to attendees around signing up with their Microsoft Account (aka Live ID) is reversed with Power BI.  They CAN’T sign up with their Microsoft Account.
  2. There are some other reasons individuals may not be able to complete the self-service sign up process:  Power BI also doesn’t support .gov or .mil email addresses, the attendees may have an office 365 account that has been restricted by their administrator, and others.  The Power BI documentation includes a full list of possible issues.

Ideal Solutions

The following solutions are the easiest way to sign up for Power BI if you don’t already have an account you want to use.

  1. If the your employer or school is using Office 365 for their organizational email, and the organizational administrators have not specifically restricted access to Power BI (see above), then you should be able to just “Sign In” to with that account.  You don’t need to “Sign Up”.  Be aware that any usage you incur at the event will affect your account’s overall usage quotas. 
  2. If you have a good old “traditional” email address that uses Exchange or just plain old SMTP and POP or IMAP Servers, etc., you should be able to “Sign Up” at .  Email address like etc. should work fine for the normal sign-up process. 

Work Around

If neither of the above “IDEAL SOLUTIONS” works for the you, you can use the work around recommended by the Power BI team, and Sign Up for Power BI with a new Office 365 Trial.  I Recommend a few other specific steps than those outlined in that link.  These mainly include using “Private” or “Incognito” browser sessions and some best practices around how to fill out the required data.   For those steps, follow along below:

  1. Close all of open browser windows, then open a new “private” browser session .  These are “In Private” sessions in Edge or IE (Ctrl-Shift-P), or “Incognito” sessions in Chrome (Ctrl-Shift-N).  The reason why is that will allow you to browse as a new user with no existing cookies, credentials, etc.
  2. Once you are in a private browser window, follow this link to Sign Up for a Free Office 365 Enterprise Trial
  3. On Step 1 of the sign up wizard, USE YOUR REAL NAME, EMAIL, PHONE, and ORGANIZATION INFORMATION.  This WON’T CONFLICT with a real account you have at work or school.  This is just display and contact information for the trial you are creating.


  4. Step 2 is where you want to come up with a good name that doesn’t conflict with a long-term account you already own or wish to create in the future.  These instructions are intended to help you create a trial account that will be used for the duration of the trial period, and no longer.  If you are looking to create an official account for your organization you need to do more planning.   Anyhow:
    • For the User Name, I recommend using something like your FirstNameLastName.  This will make it easy to remember.  For example, in my case I would use BretStateham,  Of course, use whatever you like.
    • For the company or organization name, I recommend using your Initials, and the event name, .  For example, if I were creating one to use at LAHacks, I might use
    • Make sure to create a good password that you will remember.  You may want to note all of the things you used on this form.


  5. For Step 3, you will need to enter your REAL cell phone number, have the system send you a verification code via text, then enter the verification code you receive, and create your account


  6. After just a short time(a minute or two), your account should be ready:
    • Make a note of the portal address:
    • Make a note of your new trial account User ID:
      (or whatever you used)
    • Make sure to remember your password.  If you haven’t done so already you may want to make  note of all of the info.


  7. If you click on the “You’re ready to go…” link in on the screen, you will be taken into your Office 365 Portal ( .  The office apps (like Mail, Word, etc) should be ready in just a few minutes. 


  8. You can then go to (in the same browser if possible) and sign in with your new trial account user ID:


  9. When prompted, click the “Start” link to accept the license agreement:


  10. And after another minute or so, you should be in Power BI, and ready to start working!


Adding Users to your Office 365 Trial

If you have created an Office 365 trial account as outlined above, you can easily add other users to your trial.  This is really handy at an event like a hackathon where you might want to give multiple members of your team access to your Power BI data sets, reports, etc. Your can add a total of 25 users (including yourself) to your trial account.

  1. Open a private browser session, and login to using the trial account User ID you created above.  Then, click on the “Admin” link, or just open


  2. On the admin page, along the left, expand “USERS”, then select “Active Users”, and click on the “+” button to create a new user:


  3. Complete the information for the new user.  You can either type a password in for them, or let a password be auto-generated and sent to them via email.  You can also add additional emails to send the password to, just semi-colon delimit the list of emails:


  4. The new User ID temporary auto-generated password will be displayed in the browser:


  5. But if you put the new user’s real email address in as the address to send the password to, within a couple of minutes the new user should receive an email with their login info:


  6. The new user can then use then open up a private browser session and login to using the new User ID and temporary password.  They can then change the password to something they will remember:


  7. And the new user will then be given access to Power BI (note, they can also login to to access office resources like email and more)