The launch of the consumer version of Windows Vista, Microsoft\u2019s new operating system, could be pushed back past the stated January launch date, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Wednesday.The operating system was due to be launched this year, but in March the company said it wouldn\u2019t get broad release until January 2007. Ballmer said Wednesday that the planned January launch may slip further based on feedback from a beta release program and the product road maps of hardware vendors."We think we are on track for shipping early in the year. We\u2019ve talked about the month, but we get a chance to critically assess all of the feedback we\u2019ll get from this beta release then confirm or move [the launch date] a few weeks," he said at a news conference in Tokyo.Microsoft launched the second beta version of Windows Vista on Tuesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle."We put the beta out today ... so we should start getting feedback right away," said Ballmer.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMicrosoft\u2019s Ballmer"The other thing, frankly, which we are discussing with NEC and other hardware partners is when would they really like it\u2014early January, late January, February\u2014so it depends on when the next rollover, the next turn of the machine cycle will be, and that would be the best time to ship it based on beta feedback," he said.Timing the launch of the operating system with the product road maps of PC makers is important, said Ballmer. Microsoft delayed the Vista launch from November to January to avoid putting the product out during the year-end sales season when a change in PC lineups and operating systems could cause problems for vendors.The news comes just days after Ballmer told the press that he didn\u2019t think the lawsuit filed by Symantec against Microsoft regarding storage technology used in Vista would bump the operating system\u2019s release.\u00a0For more, read Ballmer: Symantec Suit Won\u2019t Bump Vista Release.\n\n-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service(CIO News Writer Al Sacco contributed to this report.)\n\nFor more related news coverage, read Microsoft Releases Vista, Longhorn, Office Betas.This article is posted on our Microsoft Informer page.\u00a0For more news on the Redmond, Wash.-based powerhouse, keep checking in.Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.