Testing May Push Back Vista

Microsoft CEO Ballmer acknowledges the operating system could be delayed by a few weeks.
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Vista, the long-delayed new version of Windows, could face another holdup if beta testers find bugs in the mammoth software program,

Microsoft

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CEO Steve Ballmer said Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Ballmer said, "We are on trackfor shipping early in the year.'' But the release could be pushed back a few weeks, he acknowledged, if warranted by feedback from the testers.

In any event, shares of Microsoft were up in recent trading, gaining 60 cents, or 2.6%, to $23.39.

The business version of Vista is set to ship in November, but consumer versions won't be released until January -- too late for the holiday season.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released Vista and several other key programs for testing by thousands of users, and their feedback is a critical step toward final release. If they uncover serious problems, the software could be delayed again.

Some analysts anticipate that Vista, originally expected in 2004, will spark an upgrade cycle that will boost sales of PCs as well as software from Microsoft and other vendors.