Microsoft Joins Global Initiative to Launch XBRL, A Specification That Exchanges Financial Data Across the Internet

REDMOND, Wash., April 6, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today 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 midmarket 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 TM server and Microsoft® SQL Server TM , incorporate XML, and we will continue to take a leadership role in supporting and promoting XML-based industry initiatives such as XBRL.”

XBRL for Financial Statements

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.

More than 80 percent of major U.S. public companies provide some type of financial disclosure on the Internet. Investors and users of the Internet need accurate and reliable financial information that can be delivered promptly to help them make informed financial decisions. XBRL meets these needs and is particularly important in delivering financial information via the Internet, including at a company’s Web site. XBRL makes full use of the efficiencies of the Internet as today’s primary source of financial information by making Web browser searches more accurate and relevant for all users.

“Microsoft is working with us to build a software demonstration that will show what XBRL can do for all users of financial information,”
said Mark Schnitzer, of EDGAR Online Inc.
“This demo will use Visual Basic® for Applications (VBA) to perform many functions, such as creating charts and graphs, to allow users to analyze the captured financial data. Microsoft can show its partners and customers the vision and benefits of standardizing an Internet business language that is ‘spoken’ around the world in financial services. Microsoft will be able to show how easy it will be to share financial information anywhere on the planet, so that regardless of the user’s native tongue, he or she will be able to communicate and understand financials universally using XBRL.”

“XBRL allows companies, analysts, investors and other audiences to make better-informed financial and management decisions and to leverage the capabilities of the Internet to facilitate the exchange of financial information,”
said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
“XBRL does not change existing accounting standards, it merely provides an efficient and reliable means for the exchange. Based on standardized, underlying data tags, XBRL does not require companies to disclose any additional information beyond that which they normally disclose in their current financial statements.”

Microsoft joins over 30 companies and organizations on the XBRL Project Committee. Participants include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Arthur Andersen LLP; Best Software Inc.; CaseWare International Inc.; the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants; Cohen Computer Consulting; Crowe, Chizek and Co. LLP; Deloitte & Touche LLP; e-content Co., a division of Interleaf Inc.; EDGAR Online; Epicor Software Co.; Ernst & Young LLP; FRx Software Corp.; Great Plains Software Inc.; Hyperion Software; International Accounting Standards Committee; IBM Corp.; the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia; the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; the Institute of Management Accountants; KPMG LLP; Lawson Software; Morgan Stanley Dean Witter; Navision Software US Inc.; Oracle Corp.; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; Reuters Group LP; Sage Software; SAP AG; Standard & Poor’s ComStock; TexSYS RD Corp. and The Woodburn Group Inc.

More information about XBRL can be found at http://www.xbrl.org/ .

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