LOS ANGELES: On day two of its Professional Developer's Conference here, Microsoft sought to atone for the myriad shortcomings of its Windows Vista operating system, launched almost two years ago to a barrage of criticism.

Despite spending mega-sums on promotion, Vista has proved a no-go area for customers (especially businesses) who, in majority, prefer to remain with its forerunner, Windows XP.

And so it came to pass that with much banging of drums, Microsoft executives Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green led the developer-disciples into the promised land of Windows 7, which in just over one year will be launched upon a grateful world. 

It will be garlanded with improvements, promises Microsoft. Among which is a feature called Libraries that will enable easy access to music, videos, photos and other documents located on different storage devices such as other PCs connected to a home network or removable drives. 

Homegroup is another feature designed to make it easier for users with, say, a laptop to move their machine between office, home and other locations. It will automatically configure the laptop to work with a local printer or other device so users don't have to manually adjust the device settings.

Arguably most critical of all, Windows 7 is designed to run faster than Vista. The Redmond leviathan is working closely with hardware-makers to ensure the software will seamlessly recognize and work with devices like printers, cameras and other products.

"That's critical for us," says Bill Veghte, svp for Microsoft's Windows business, somewhat belatedly, given that Vista failed miserably in that regard.

Microsoft expects to ship Windows 7 for consumers in January 2010 – with fingers tightly crossed that they won't instead opt for its cheaper online platform Windows Azure.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff