Microsoft, the worlds largest software maker, said on Thursday that it sees no reason for a delay in its highly anticipated operating system, Windows Vista, but stopped short of saying it would be on time as well.

Speaking at Microsoft's annual financial meeting, executives alluded to Vista progress, but were hesitant to say anything specific.

We will ship Windows Vista when it is available, Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services unit said.

However, we are going to ship the product when it is ready and we are just going to take it milestone by milestone, he said with respect to Windows.

Vista is the successor to Microsoft's Windows XP operating system which sits on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers. It is currently slated for January release.

A delay in Vista shipments could have a negative impact on the PC industry. Some experts, such as Merrill Lynch's Richard Farmer, already contend slow PC growth as consumers delay purchases anticipating the new software. Delays could further set back hardware manufacturers.

The Redmond company has its own incentive to get the product out as well. During the quarterly earnings conference call with analysts on the 20th, Microsoft said any delay in its new Windows operating system could cost the company upwards of $400 million.

Given the uncertainty, the company's shares to dipped 50 cents, or 2.05 percent to $23.87 in early afternoon on the Nasdaq stock exchange.