According to reports by the IDG News Service, Ballmer said at a news conference in Japan that feedback about its latest beta release may affect the Vista consumer version launch date.
Microsoft officials have said Vista will streamline security for both IT pros and end users.
"We are discussing with hardware partners when would they really like it - early January, late January, February - so it depends on when the next roll-over, 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.
Microsoft’s last firm delay occurred in March, when the company said it wouldn’t meet its previous goal to release by the end of 2006.
"We should start getting feedback right away," Ballmer said. "[Once] we get a chance to critically assess all of the feedback we'll get from this beta release then confirm or move [the launch date] a few weeks."
Speculation ran rampant about possible Vista delays after Symantec filed suit against Microsoft last week, claiming that Redmond had misused volume management software.
The suit, filed last Thursday in a Seattle court, claimed unspecified damages.
The case is related to a 1996 contract between Microsoft and Veritas licensing Veritas’ software. Cupertino, Calif.,-based Symantec acquired Veritas last year.