This past week I was invited with other Featured Community Members from around the world to attend the Windows Consumer Experience Space, in New York City. At Peter White Studios, we were given the opportunity for some one-on-one time with Microsoft senior program managers, and some hands-on time with new Vista systems, and Vista Certified devices.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said recently:

Apple is not [business-focused] and IBM is not [consumer-focused]. We’re trying to do both and meet the needs of workstyle and lifestyle.

This was certainly a consumer focused event. Among the mainstream press was Vogue, Cosmopolitan, GQ, even Playboy and Maxim. There was also a large contingent from overseas including Asia.

The message revolved around the digital life. Specifically memories, communication, and photos. It’s also the first time I can remember the Windows and Live teams so closely working together. Windows Live services are getting more closely tied to the Vista experience, and offering unique features.

Windows Live Mail (beta) makes it easier than ever to share pictures via email, and manage multiple email accounts. Windows Live Photo Gallery (beta) offers easy red-eye removal, automatic panoramic stitching, slide shows, and exclusive full-screen viewing. It also offers photo sharing via live.spaces or Flickr. The panoramic image above was created using Windows Live Photo Gallery by stitching 12 snapshots together. We’ll expand on these and other Live services in future posts.

Games for Windows takes lessons learned from the Xbox 360 and brings a console like experience to the PC. From the retail packaging to the installation experience, and linkage of your gamer tag to your Windows Live ID.

A Games for Windows logo means it’s passed quality standards. That it won’t do things like overwrite your video driver (without asking), and that it will work with your new widescreen LCD, as well as your Xbox 360 controller, and 64-bit systems. They also support parental controls in Vista.

Similarly, the Certified for Windows Vista logo aims to simplify the experience of installing hardware devices, and keeping the drivers up-to-date using Microsoft Update.

Buffalo wireless router A wireless router is a good example of a hardware device that benefits from the Certified for Windows Vista logo. The logo means it will be suitable for hi-def video streaming, and online gaming. It has simplified security setup, is Xbox Live compatible, and provides quality VoIP and video regardless of network traffic. Maybe most importantly, it supports Windows Connect Now. If you’ve ever setup a wireless network, you may understand why up to 30% of wireless routers are returned because the purchaser couldn’t get them installed and configured. Windows Vista and a Certified for Windows Vista device will make it less painful. Some Digital cameras, printers, and other devices will carry the Certified for Windows Vista logo. Watch for them if you’re purchasing new hardware for a Vista system.

Weren’t able to make it to New York? Invite get lost in the mail? Here’s a virtual video tour:

Other details, including a Holiday Product Guide can be found at Microsoft PressPass.