XBRL Statements Make Their Internet Debut

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Microsoft Corporation has announced that it is the first technology company to publish its financial statements on the Internet using Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). The company's second-quarter earnings results, as well as the first- and second-quarter 10-Qs and fiscal year 2001 10-K statement are available as XBRL documents on its investor relations site.

XBRL uses tags based on standardized accounting definitions to describe and identify each item of financial information, such as net revenue. This added uniformity in financial reporting makes it easier for users to extract and analyze comparable information from companies' published statements.

The American Institute of CPAs supports XBRL. Barry Melancon, AICPA's chief executive officer explains, "XBRL facilitates straight-through reporting of business information and unclogs the data pipeline so that information flows freely, efficiently and cost-effectively to end users of financial data."

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) also supports XBRL. The Foundation that governs IASB is expected to announce the release of its "Core Foundation Taxonomy of XBRL for Financial Statements" later this week. Its taxonomy will be based on the bound volume of International Accounting Standards.

Additional information about XBRL is available in a recently-released paper on The Road to Better Business Information: Making a Case for XBRL. This paper was written by Al Berkeley, vice chairman of thought leadership at Nasdaq, with John Connors, senior vice president, chief financial officer, Microsoft, and Mike Willis, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

-Rosemary Schlank

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