Understanding Power Platform Licensing: Part 1 – Power Apps

  • Part 2 – Power Automate (coming soon)
  • Part 3 – Power Virtual Agents (coming soon)
  • Part 4 – Portals (coming soon)

Understanding Power Apps Licensing

Understanding Power Platform licensing is a dark art for some, but in reality its fairly straightforward.

The complexity is more often than not choosing the right components that make up your solution; do you go Model Driven? Canvas Driven? Teams + Power Apps? What will the database look like – SharePoint, Dataverse or SQL?

There are lots of permutations, and whilst licencing is a factor to consider, don’t let it influence your decision on how the solution should be technically delivered – if you need a relational database don’t try and fit this into a SharePoint list!

Within ‘Power Apps‘, there are three primary licencing models you can choose from (there are of course ‘add-on’ licencing), but for the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on the three core models:

  • Seeded, Per App, Per User.
Seeded planPer app planPer user plan
Run unlimited canvas apps per user, using only Standard Connectors
Run one app per user, with the ability to use Premium Connectors
Run unlimited apps per user, with the ability to use Premium Connectors
Included within O365 licence or D365
Per user/app/month  
Per user/month  
Seeded licencing from within an Office 365 or D365 licence. Can run unlimited number of Canvas Apps or Teams + Power Apps. Best for businesses that want to license each user to run one app at a time, with the flexibility to stack licenses for each additional app.Best for businesses that want one license for each user, regardless of the number of apps they need to run.

To help illustrate the type of Power App to use, hopefully the following diagram provides an overview on when you’ll need to look at using Premium licencing over the standard licence (seeded).

Note: I’m assuming the reader knows the difference between Model Driven and Canvas apps, and also has a basic understanding of key differences between Standard vs. Premium connectors.


Consideration 1 – Data

What type of data will you be storing?

When deciding your Power App solution and you’re deciding which approach to choose, keep in mind the Data. A key consideration that any Microsoft Consultant will tell you, including Microsofts’ very own Power Platform licencing guru Chris Huntingford – “What type of data are you storing”

  • What is the Data?
  • How critical is this Data?
  • Is it relational?
  • How much data will we need to store?

The answer will narrow your options:

  • Relational data will need to reside in relational database such as Dataverse or SQL. These are both Premium connectors (unless of course you use Teams + Power Apps – Dataverse for Teams)
  • If you need a relational database and the data is less than 2GB, then you could use Teams + Power Apps (Dataverse for Teams), which is covered under the ‘Seeded’ licencing option.
  • If your data isn’t business critical and you’re not storing relational information you could use a SharePoint List – which is covered under the seeded licence.

Remember, a SharePoint List can store 30 million items!

More commonly, organisations that I work with are not using Dynamics 365, and are coming from a Modern Workplace using O365 licencing; they are consumers of the ‘Seeded’ option and in most cases use Canvas Apps with a SharePoint data store. Personally I love SharePoint – and in most cases a SharePoint List is perfectly fine – but go back to the first question – how important is your data.

Consideration 2 – Consumers

Who will be consuming your Power App?

All consumers (internal or external users – yes, you can share a Canvas App with an external user!) will need to have the appropriate licencing to ‘consume’ the Power App.

If your organisation has a mixture of Seeded and Premium licencing you’ll have another consideration to keep in mind. Understand who will be consuming your Power App – little point in creating a corporate wide Model Driven application for only a subset of the organisation to be licensed to use it – you’ll find yourself re-writing the application.

Consideration 3 – Business Criticality

How critical is your App?

The Seeded licence is included as part of Office 365. Just like Microsoft Work and Excel, Power Apps and Power Automate compliment the suite of ‘Personal Productivity’ applications.

Alot of folks complain that they are trying to build business critical applications under the seeded licence and their constrained to what they can and cannot do without the more expensive licence.

If you’re developing a business critical application, then the chances are it’ll need a Dataverse or SQL database backend – and you’ll be needing to use Premium licencing. BUT in addition to the licencing requriements, if you are creating a business critical application then you should also be thinking about ‘Application Lifecycle Management’.

For me, its simple, there are two types of apps that you’ll be creating and each follows a different path:

  • Personal Productivity – minimal IT oversight and involvement.
  • Company-wide / business critical – IT oversight, and probably developed under formal project management.

For critical applications a full Application Lifecycle Management route is required, with dedicated Development, Test and Production environments. Additionally deployment of the Power App would be managed using Solutions, compared with Personal Productivity apps, that will typically only have a single instance and changes are made to the live application.

Additionally, business critical applications require additional thought around your Power Platform Environment Strategy, and Power App creation process – last thing you want to find out is that Joe Bloggs in HR has created a business critical application in the Default environment and IT are not aware of it!

Consideration 4 – Platform

Is Power Apps the right platform for your application?

Many times I’ve been involved in a pre-sales meeting where a customer has come to us with a requirement for a Power App solution. The majority of times the end result is a Power Platform solution, but sometimes the requirement isn’t suitable – one way or another.

Don’t try and make a business requirement fit a Power Apps solution. If you’re struggling to find the right solution or there are features within that requirement that don’t naturally fit into a Power App world – look outside the box.

Azure Web Apps are a great alternative to a Power App solution. They’re also a great way to overcome Power Platform licencing challenges – if you need a solution for 50,000 employees with a relational database and you don’t have premium licencing, then a Web App with a SQL backend is a much cheaper alternative. You lose the ‘low code’ Power App ‘maker’ environment, but if you have a team of developers than chances are they will know the likes of HTML and JS and Node. Publish using Azure Web App Proxy for a complete secure end to end service.

What are the Licencing options?

Seeded plan

  • Bundled with Office 365 and Dynamics 365
  • Does not require a Per User/Per App or Unlimited Apps plan but there are limits on the with Office 365 and Power Automate side
  • Office 365 specific abilities\limitations:
    • Includes Standard connectors but not Premium Connectors
    • Includes access to Office 365 features such as SharePoint directly but not via HTTP which is considered a Premium connector
    • Does not include Dataverse (Common Data Service) capacity
    • Does not include access to on premises services via the data gateway
    • Data API limited to 2000 requests per day
    • No model driven custom apps
    • No Power Apps portal access.

Per app plan

  • User with a license runs up to two specific apps (2 apps and 1 portal)
  • Sometimes referred to as the “Per App” Plan
  • Standard, Premium and Custom Connectors included
  • Access to 1 custom portal for each user
  • Access to on premises resources via a data gateway
  • Read Access to Dynamics 365 restricted entities
  • 50 MB Dataverse DB capacity
  • 400 MB Dataverse File capacity
  • 1000 Daily API Requests.

Per user plan

  • User with a license can run unlimited number of apps
  • Also known simply as the “Per User Plan”
  • Standard, Premium and Custom Connectors included
  • Unlimited Access to the (single) tenant portal
  • Access to on premises resources via a data gateway
  • Read Access to Dynamics 365 restricted entities
  • 250 MB Dataverse DB capacity shared with the tenant
  • 2 GB Dataverse File capacity shared with the tenant.

Add-On Licences

In addition to the primary three Power App licencing models, and in typical Microsoft fashion, when building out your solutions there are some notable additional licences to consider:

PortalsPortalsAI Builder
Login capacity (Authenticated users)Page view capacity (Unauthenticated users)AI Builder add-on
per month for 100 login sessions6
per month for 100,000 page views
per unit/month6
Enable external users to access custom portals.Enable external users to access custom portals.Infuse AI into your apps.

5 A login provides an external authenticated user access to a single Power Apps portal for up to 24 hours. Multiple logins during the 24-hour period count as one billable login. Internal users can be licensed either by the Power Apps per app or per user plans, or a qualifying Dynamics 365 seeded subscription.

6 Each AI Builder add-on unit is a pack of 1 million service credits pooled at the tenant level. Use the AI Builder calculator to estimate costs.

More Information

For a detailed overview of the Power Platform Licencing model, download and read the licencing guide: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2085130

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