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What is PowerPivot? (and does it really wear underwear on top of pants !?!)



Along with Excel 2010, Microsoft released a free add-in called PowerPivot. According to MS,

PowerPivot gives users the power to create compelling self-service BI solutions, facilitates sharing and collaboration on user-generated BI solutions in a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 environment, and enables IT organizations to increase operational efficiencies through Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2-based management tools.

It means anyone can analyze and visualize millions of rows of data using powerpivot. It is like pivot tables on SUMPRODUCT (oh, I could totally say steroids, but who wants a cliche on a Friday?)

During the holidays I spent few hours trying to understand this whole powerpivot thing and see if it really wears underwear on top of pants.

Watch my review of Power Pivot in below video

If you are not able to see it here, watch it on youtube.

(make sure you jack up your volume).

The Conclusion

My experience with PowerPivot has been good so far. I like the power behind powerpivot and its ability to facilitate very good analysis on large datasets without leaving excel sheets. The only gripe I have is that it slows down Excel 2010 start up time. I have disabled the add-in for the time being. But I will turn it on as soon as I need to analyze some data from a SQL server DB.

Download PowerPivot Free Add-in

If you have Excel 2010 you can download the powerpivot add-in right away and see it for yourself.

If you don’t have Excel 2010, download that too.

What is your experience with PowerPivot?

Have you tried it? What is your experience like?


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24 Responses to “What is PowerPivot? (and does it really wear underwear on top of pants !?!)”

  1. Martin says:


    my experience with PowePivot was similar to yours. I've downloaded at the very same moment I've downloaded the 2010 Beta, and installed it onto my home desktop. It's an old pentium 4, and yes, it took like forever to start.

    Then, I honestly didn't know what to do, so I played around with a large dataset I have in Excel, the ones I use everyday to create my BI reports, and the result was quite impressive, in terms of charting for instance. I didn't give it much time, but now that you're on board, I cannot wait to hear your new incursions on it so I can test it myself !.



  2. Clarity says:


    Thanks for the heads up on this. Looks very interesting. Now I just need to find myself a spare PC to install 2010 onto!



  3. Glad you're digging PowerPivot. I know the Excel team would love to hear about your experience using Excel 2010.

    Join the community and conversation on the Excel page on Facebook. There you can share your experience and get other tips and tricks.



    MSFT Office Outreach Team

  4. Loranga says:

    Here you can visit the Microsoft Virtual lab and play with Powerpivot.


  5. Chandoo says:

    @Martin: My day job doesnt really expose me to such huge quantities of data. So I have little avenues to test a powerful tool like this. But I find the features really promising and I am looking forward to use some of them in a consulting assignment or something like that.

    @Clarity: Yeah, I find some very interesting uses for this add-in. Make sure you have a sufficiently powered comp to test this. This one takes up quite some CPU power.

    @Kim: Thanks for the comments.

    @Loranga: Thanks for the links. I have seen about the virtual lab powerpivot.com but didnt try it.

  6. Rob Collie says:

    @Clarity - you can install 2010 side-by-side with older versions of Office 🙂

    I added this as a FAQ at http://powerpivotfaq.com/Lists/TGPPF/DispForm.aspx?ID=54&Source=http%3A%2F%2Fpowerpivotfaq%2Ecom%2FLists%2FTGPPF%2FLatest%2Easpx

    http://powerpivotpro.com is my site, and another good source of PowerPivot info.

  7. teylyn says:

    Chandoo, you can download sample data to play with from http://powerpivotsampledata.codeplex.com/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=35438
    The Powerpivot help files have a tutorial for which you need the download called "Powerpivot Sample Data". This currently sits under the heading "other available downloads". It's about 35 MB zipped.

    The "Recommended Download" is a completely different data set of about 90 MB zipped, but this one is not referenced in the Help files.

    I feel that the help files definitely need more work. They currently read as if different authors were involved and not cross-referencing each other.

    If you plan to do some work with the big datasets, make sure your computer has sufficient RAM. 1GB definitely does not cut it.

  8. Jas says:

    hey chandoo, I have tried downloading powerpivot but it gave me error, what could I be doing wrong?

  9. [...] solver, lots of statistical formulas have improved accuracy, there is exciting PowerPivot Add-in (my review of powerpivot) to let you do poweful BI and Analysis work right from Excel and many more. [read about all changes [...]

  10. Rajiv says:

    Hi Chandoo, I am lucky to stumble upon your post. I had downloaded Powerpivot, but it slowed down Excel startup so much that I disabled it. Truth is, I am content with Pivot tables, I do not know what to do with Powerpivot.

    Had it not been so heavy on my 2GB RAM laptop, I could have tried fiddling with it.

  11. Madara says:

    Sincerely, I am disappointed I downloaded PowerPivot, at first glance Powerpivot seems to be a revolutionary tool, but after going deep inside the subject I discovered that full outer left or right joins can't be performed.....after that, I removed it because the major part of my queries consist of making left joins (outer)....I am really disappointed because this add has all the ingredients to be one of the best ever made...it is user friendly, no need to be a genius to understand how it works very performent.....

  12. Chris says:

    I have been pusing pivot tables to the max, with million row spreadsheets using Excel 2007. It came to a point where I had to do manual calcs on individual sheets, and still waited for ~10min update the pivots and other calcs. So I need something that will substantially reduce processing time - will this product do it for me? I am currently running Windows XP SP3 on a DUO CPU, P8600 @ 2.4 GHz, with 2.9 GB RAM. Would I also need hadware upgrade to see performance benefits?
    I am also a little concerned about the lack of join features. I use VLOOKUPS in Excel to join data - am I missing something here, or is there any loss of functionality moving from Excel features + Pivot tables to Excel 2010 + Powerpivot?

  13. [...] (review) is a utility developed by Microsoft to help you analyze and report gazillion rows of data. It [...]

  14. [...] “to make you awesome in Excel and charting.” He’s an Excel master who wrote a really unique review of PowerPivot that caught our attention. Be sure to visit his blog, as well as the many other quality blogs that [...]

  15. Mike says:

    I'm really stuck as to how to get started, can anyone help? I installed powerpivot and tried to watch and follow various tutorials.

    I've set up an excel workbook with a sample data set, switched to the power pivot tab and most of the buttons are greyed out, including 'Pivot Table Report'. From the videos I've watched it appears you should be able to just work from a table in excel as your source data, so why is this greyed out? am I missing something? Tried reinstalling and it all seems to install ok but it just doesn't seem to function?

    I desperately want to learn power pivot but I just can't see what's wrong. I am running 64bit windows 7 but have Excel 32 bit 2010 installed and installed the 32bit add in.

  16. JCas says:

    thanks for this looks interesting. great 🙂

  17. Vrunda says:

    I got office 2010 with my win 7 itself. I dnt know is it 32-bit or 64- bit.
    I installed 64 bit powerpivot But it did not worked. Then i run the other version on site but it also did not work. I got powerpivot tab in my excel both times but then it didnot work.
    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!! 

  18. Prasanth Nagulakonda venkata says:

    Really good and crispy presentation on Power Pivot.

    I have learnt something finally:)

    Thanks Chandoo.


  19. [...] first heard about Power Pivot in 2010, But I did not learn it then. Since October, last year, I have started learning and using Power [...]

  20. Rahim Zulfiqar Ali says:

    Chandoo, What is the difference between Normal Pivot Table and Power Pivot ?
    Explain atleast with 5 to 10 points about these comparison.
    & Why Excel user switch to using Power Pivot ?
    Thank You

  21. [...] years ago Chandoo asked does PowerPivot really wear underwear on top of pants? Many folks won’t find out because PowerPivot is no longer available for standard Excel [...]

  22. Victoria Ngow says:

    So is it like an MS Access Database in Excel? New to this, sorry!

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