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.
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
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."
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."
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.
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.