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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

Power View in SkyDrive

UPDATE 02/08/2012,  I have written an important follow-up to this blog post at Power View in SkyDrive revisited which has better news than what I have written below. Please read that blog post as well as this one.

Sean Boon has begun an interesting blog series where he is analysing data from the Olympics using using Power View in Excel 2013, his first post in the series is at Visualizing the Olympics with Power View in Excel 2013: Day 1. While the capabilities of Power View itself are impressive this gives me an opportunity to highlight what I think is a massive failing in the whole Power View Excel in 2013 story.

Sean provides a link to a SkyDrive folder, Power View Olympics, where he is collecting his demo workbooks. I clicked on one of those workbooks in order to view it in my web browser and I saw this:


“Unable to load the requested workbook”

Oh, did they forget to tell you? Workbooks containing Power View reports cannot actually be viewed on SkyDrive. Whoops! What is even more vexing about this is that if the workbook were hosted on SharePoint then I *would* be able to view it using my web browser, however unless I am mistaken, with SharePoint I can’t share it with the whole world like I can using SkyDrive! SharePoint offers online Power View while SkyDrive offers frictionless sharing – neither offers both! This glaring lack of parity between SharePoint and SkyDrive is, to my mind, the most infuriating part of Microsoft’s Excel collaboration story.

None of this came as a surprise to me. I was lucky enough to be invited onto the Office 2013 Technical Preview back in 2011 and I discovered back then that Excel workbooks containing Power View reports would not be viewable in SkyDrive; I fed back vociferously that this was a big failing, I guess that feedback fell on deaf ears.

Welcome to office collaboration, Microsoft style! You can share your Power View workbooks with the entire world but if anyone wants to actually look at them they’re gonna have to install Excel or SharePoint! Meanwhile if you want frictionless, collaborative, immersive BI on the web other offerings are merely a click away!

Power View in Excel 2013. So near, yet so far!!


For more scathing opinion on Microsoft’s Excel collaboration efforts take a read of:

Published Monday, July 30, 2012 4:07 PM by jamiet
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Chris Webb said:


July 30, 2012 5:39 PM

Koen Verbeeck said:

Well, that just plain sucks.

July 31, 2012 2:43 AM

jbooker said:

More ranting of due cause!  Hey Jamie, Are you sure Power View is not supportd on the new 2013 Skydrive?  Two things I noticed about Mr.Boons olympics thing.  He has posted it on the current version of skydrive which doesn't support 2013 features.  And his Power View File may contain external connections which are unsupported in web view - sharepoint or no sharepoint.

Skydrive is sharepoint behind the scenes.  The thing is, the current production version of skdrive is SP 2010 not SP 2013.  When 2013 launches, I belive Skydrive will be made 2013 and will support  access to Power View Files.  Whether you need to be granted guest access and guests need to login unign hotmail accounts remains to be seen.  I emailed you an invitation to see Mr. Boons file on my 2013 preview 'skydrive pro' (whatever that means- seems maybe office365 shrepoint online 2013 'MySites' are using skydrive branding now), let me know if you can access this link anonymously, with hotmail login or otherwise.  Cheers, Josh

August 1, 2012 1:00 PM

jbooker said:

"with SharePoint I can’t share it with the whole world like I can using SkyDrive! SharePoint offers online Power View while SkyDrive offers frictionless sharing – neither offers both! This glaring lack of parity between SharePoint and SkyDrive is, to my mind, the most infuriating part of Microsoft’s Excel collaboration story."  

I'm with you...While this may always be the case, there seems to be much improvement around social, sharing and guest access in SP 2013.   In prior versions of SP/Skydrive I think there were technical limitations in the area of authorization. Now that those are gone, it all depends on where they choose to draw the line between free and paid services, I guess.

August 1, 2012 1:18 PM

jbooker said:

More confusion...Okay so 'SkyDrive-Pro' is 'sorta' not skydrive after all:

However, you can use the office2013 preview on current skydrive after following this link(not sure how to go back if you don't like it):

After doing so, Mr. Boon's docs open in excel web app 2013 preview  and I get the message:

"This file contains BI features not supported"

well the features are suppoeted on Office365 preview site, but not on Skydrive 2013 preview.  Doesn't seem like this is a technical limitation.  My guess is some things wont be allowed for free on sky drive.

"Welcome to office collaboration, Microsoft style!"  Indeed.

August 1, 2012 1:53 PM

jamiet said:


Seems you have now reached the same point that I am at :) I too have upgraded to Office2013 preview on SkyDrive and that's when I got the error message you see above. Different error message to yourself, but same effect.

Just one comment on your comment of: "Skydrive is sharepoint behind the scenes". I'm not certain that that is true. My assumption (and it IS an assumption) is that viewing an Excel doc on SharePoint uses Excel Services and on SkyDrive it uses the Excel Web App. I tried to alleviate some of the confusion at but still I think there is some confusion. The way I differentiate Excel Services and the Excel Web App (to myself) is "Excel Services is a server-based technology whereas Office Web Apps is predominantly a client-side technology (i.e. HTML+JavaScript)". That may be wrong of course.


August 2, 2012 3:30 AM

SSIS Junkie said:

&#160; Three days ago I wrote a rather scathing blog post Power View in SkyDrive where I criticised Microsoft’s

August 2, 2012 3:45 AM

jbooker said:

Jamie,  Thanks for your reply. This has no baring on the fact that external data connections are not supported on Excel Web App in skydrive, but are you sure you had upgraded your skydrive to preview at the time you took this screen shot?  The shot looks like 2010 web app to me.  Compare the branding to the 'metro style' in your screen shot on your 'revisited' post.  To see the diff, you can switch back and forth from preview here:

Typical MS to make the product naming so confusing...My understanding is this...whether Excel Web App or Excel Services, the excel file has to be in a sharepoint 2010 or later doc library with excel services running on the sp server.

"Excel Web App is available for personal use in Windows Live, in organizations that have installed and configured Office Web Apps on their SharePoint site, and for professionals and businesses that subscribe to select Office 365 services."

Notice these are sharepoint, sharepoint and sharepoint.

Excel Services is comprised of 3 components.  I could be wrong, but I think at least one of these is neccessary to enable viewing excel files in the browser via excel web app:

"Excel Calculation Services is the main Excel Services component that loads the spreadsheet and workbook, calculates the spreadsheets, refreshes external data, and maintains session state for interactivity."

Again, I could be wrong, but looking at the architecture diagram in the above article, I think the 'limitation' in skydrive has to do with the arrow between 'External Data Sources' and 'Excel Calculation Services'.  My guess is this limitation is not a technical one, rather by design.  After all, why would anyone pay for O365 if the same functionality was available for free on skydrive?...MS viewpoint not my own.  Mine is this:  why would anyone pay for the competition once they experienced the power of Office in the cloud?

"Excel Services is a server-based technology whereas Office Web Apps is predominantly a client-side technology (i.e. HTML+JavaScript)"

While this is true, I believe the former is required to enable the latter.  The confusion comes from MS terminology that trys to compare the two as distinct options while hiding the fact that skydrive is SP on the back-end.  Too many intellectual property lawyers and product teams fighting over name branding, perhaps.  They should just plainly say that skydrive is sharepoint with limited are the limitations and if you want the delta then buy office365.

My hope is that those who do subscribe to O365 need to be able to easily, freely and anonymously share the full functionality of office in the cloud.

Sorry for the long commment.


August 2, 2012 10:19 AM

SSIS Junkie said:

If you keep an eye on the tech industry you cannot have failed to notice that an Open Source technology

February 20, 2013 4:56 PM

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