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Extensible Business Reporting Language FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions November 2004

Q: What are you announcing at the XBRL International Conference?

A: Microsoft Corp. is announcing the intentions of several partners to build Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) solutions based on the Microsoft® Office System. Microsoft customers have long used Microsoft Office to create and consume documents as part of the business reporting process. XBRL, as a promising standard in this process, can help increase these customers' productivity. Therefore Microsoft is pleased to work with these partners that recognize the value of building XBRL solutions on top of the Microsoft Office System.

Q: Which partners are involved?

A: Microsoft is working with a number of partners that collectively plan to offer customers many possible solutions from a wide range of geographic regions. These partners include Business Wire, EDGAR Online Inc., eReport and Semansys Technologies B.V.

Q: What types of solutions are partners developing?

A: The partner solutions encompass a range of functionality, from creating to consuming XBRL financial data, and all are planning to enable customers to create or work with XBRL documents from directly within the Microsoft Office System. Having such a broad range of options is a win for customers that want to take advantage of the power of standardizing financial data in XBRL format, and do so within the familiar environment of the Microsoft Office System.

Q: Are any of these solutions new?

A: Yes, all these solutions would be new additions to the partners' portfolios of existing products as they work to expand the options available to customers to meet their financial reporting needs.

Q: What is XBRL?

A: Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) consists of publicly available specifications that use Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based data tags to describe financial statements for both public and private companies. Once XBRL tags are applied to the data within financial reports, that data can be quickly shared, published, consumed and reported without the need to rekey data. As a result, XBRL has the potential to benefit all members of the business reporting supply chain.

Q: Who is responsible for the XBRL standard?

A: XBRL is developed and maintained by XBRL International ( ), which is made up of 250 companies and organizations representing the international business reporting supply chain. XBRL is a zero-royalty, standards-based method with which users can prepare, exchange and analyze financial statements and the information they contain.

Q: What are the key benefits of adopting XBRL-based solutions?

A: XBRL permits the exchange and extraction of financial information across a range of software formats and technologies, including the Internet. XBRL allows financial information to be entered once and rendered in many formats. It can improve access to financial information and provides more accurate and reliable information.

Q: Where is XBRL used today?

A: XBRL is used around the world as a method to exchange financial information through a common standard. XBRL is used for both internal and external reporting processes and within both the public and private sectors.

Q: How does Microsoft support XBRL today?

A: Microsoft has several products in its Microsoft Business Solutions line that support XBRL. Microsoft also is a charter member of the XBRL consortium. In addition, Microsoft was one of the first companies to publish its financial reports in XBRL format. Today all financial filings posted by Microsoft are simultaneously posted in XBRL.

Q: What is Microsoft's overall strategy regarding XBRL?

A: Microsoft reports its financial information in XBRL and provides technology that supports XBRL, such as XML support in Excel. In addition, Microsoft is working with partners to help jump-start solutions based on XBRL.

Q: What is the Microsoft Office Tool for XBRL Prototype?

A: The Microsoft Office Tool for XBRL Prototype is a demonstration of how customers could use Microsoft Office 2003 to create and analyze documents in XBRL format. Through a set of authoring and analytics features, the prototype tool shows people how they could use the Microsoft Office System to convert their financial reports into a common XBRL format that can be read by various computer systems.

Q: How do customers use the Microsoft Office Tool for XBRL Prototype to create and consume XBRL documents?

A: The Microsoft Office Tool for XBRL Prototype is a working example of how to create and consume XBRL documents. However, it is solely intended as a demonstration of how customers could use the Microsoft Office System to work with XBRL. Customers that want to use XBRL in the business reporting process can benefit from having a wide range of choices of XBRL solutions. That benefit is increased if many of those options are based on, and work with, familiar tools such as the Microsoft Office System. As a result, Microsoft is pleased to work with partners such as those mentioned above that have decided to create Microsoft Office-based XBRL solutions.

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The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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