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Microsoft Joins XML Specification Committee for Financials

Written By: M. Reed
Published On: May 2 2000

Microsoft Joins XML Specification Committee for Financials
M. Reed -May 2nd, 2000

Event Summary

In April Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced that through its membership on the international Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) Project Committee, it is helping to develop and launch XBRL. XBRL is a free, new Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based specification that uses accepted financial reporting standards and practices to translate financial reports across all software and technologies, including the Internet.

Members of the XBRL Project Committee represent financial, accounting, software, and governmental communities from around the world. XBRL for financial statements, developed by the committee as the first product in a future family of XBRL-based products, is currently under review for comments by the accounting profession and is anticipated to reach the market in July 2000.

XBRL streamlines the financial information supply chain that includes public and private companies, the accounting profession, data aggregators, the investment community, and all other users of financial statements. XBRL is the new name for Extensible Financial Reporting Markup Language (XFRML); the name was changed to clearly define the usefulness and necessity of using the language for all types of businesses, not just those that specialize in financial services.

"Microsoft is part of this global effort to adopt and implement XBRL, allowing individuals and companies around the world to more effectively use Internet technologies to obtain more accurate and more usable financial reports and to turn their companies into the e-businesses they want to them to be," said Christy Reichhelm, Microsoft's global mid-market enterprise resource planning industry manager. "We're committed to guiding this effort to adopt XBRL. All our existing and future operating systems, development tools, applications and software, such as Windows 2000, Windows DNA 2000, BizTalk server and Microsoft SQL Server, incorporate XML, and we will continue to take a leadership role in supporting and promoting XML-based industry initiatives such as XBRL."

XBRL offers several key benefits: technology independence, full interoperability, efficient preparation of financial statements, and reliable extraction of financial information. Information is entered only once, allowing that same information to be rendered in any form, such as a printed financial statement, an HTML document for a company's Web site, an EDGAR filing document with the SEC, a raw XML file, or other specialized reporting format such as a credit report or loan document."

Market Impact

Anytime Microsoft joins a standards committee, significant acceptance in the user community is ensured. However, customers should be wary of Microsoft's tendency to make proprietary extensions to the standards to create barriers to entry to other vendors. XML is providing a number of methods to facilitate vertical applications to customers, and the Object Management Group (OMG) has moved strongly in this direction. This move by Microsoft should allow further support for the financial industry.

User Recommendations

Customers evaluating financial applications that must function over the Internet should include Microsoft solutions on a long list of vendors. Only existing functionality and interoperability between the various Microsoft products should be considered.

 
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