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Ballmer: Symantec suit won't delay Vista

Microsoft CEO says he anticipates the OS launch will unfold as planned, hedging by adding: "But that will go to the courts now."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doesn't expect Symantec's lawsuit to delay Vista, a next version of its Windows operating system.

Asked whether the case would have any effect on the Vista launch, Ballmer told Reuters: "I wouldn't anticipate any, but that will go to the courts now."

Ballmer, speaking in Beijing after a news conference, did not elaborate.

Last week, Symantec sued Microsoft, accusing it of misappropriating trade secrets used in Vista. Symantec is seeking an injunction that would block the further development, sale or distribution of Vista and other products until all Symantec intellectual property is removed.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle charges the world's top software maker with misappropriating intellectual property and breach of contract related to a licensing deal with Veritas, which Symantec acquired last year. The dispute centers on a Symantec product called Volume Manager, which allows operating systems to store and manipulate large amounts of data.

The lawsuit was the latest blow to Microsoft and Vista, which was delayed in March until January 2007.

Ballmer said the delay was due to the company's overambitious plans for the software.

"We were trying to link too much innovation together in Vista," Ballmer told reporters at the news conference, which was called to describe a deal with the Chinese government.

"It was beyond the state of the art of software development."

But in response to another question about Vista's delay, Ballmer said: "Ultimately, I am the CEO. I am accountable." Vista, Office 2007 and Xbox 360 are central to Microsoft's efforts to revive a stock that has underperformed every major index since the beginning of 2002.

Microsoft posted a 16 percent rise in net profit for the quarter that ended March 31, but missed market expectations and set a disappointing profit target due to increased costs on products from Windows to the new Xbox 360 game console.