Well, Silverlight 4 has been announced and the Beta tools have been made available for developers to try out. And you can grab said Beta tools from this location.
The new features have been nicely summarized here. It still doesn't have native 3D scene creation support ala WPF but it reads out like a laundry list of feature requests made by developers. Web cam support, printing support, full network library support. etc. etc. But to me... there's one little bullet point stood out that had me grinning non stop.
FULL TRUST Out Of Browser Application Support.
If you're familiar with Silverlight 3 you'll of course have heard about Out Of Browser (OOB) support which allows an application to be installed then invoked like a normal application on the user's desktop. There was just one little... deficiency in that feature. The application would be run through a sandbox with some tight security restrictions that limited the OOB app to be a FULL BLOWN application.
This was of course due to the people at MS not wanting to cause another hysteria that had people crying fowl over how much power plugin applications can have over the system. ala The ActiveX Incidents.
But Developers recognized the full potential of having full trust apps capability and I'm guessing a lot of people sent a lot of requests over to the Silverlight team about this. Also more importantly...
Adobe's AIR platform, which basically is also a deliver RIA applications through the Internet DID allow for full trust capabilities when it deployed it's applications. This gave Adobe AIR a BIG one up over Silverlight 3 because it could do things that users wanted, and developers wanted ie. Full access to user's drives and network resources (no cross domain, or site of origin needed) And it was a generally lightweight platform as well.
But of course, all that has changed now that with Silverlight 4, developers can make FULL TRUST apps. To me it means one thing, Silverlight 4 now has the potential to allow .Net developers to easily create RIA applications on both Windows and Mac platforms. With Silverlight 4, a .Net developer can now tell people that in addition to Windows Applications, Web Services, Rich Web Sites now they can also tell people they can make applications that run on the Mac! A whole new platform just opened up!
To me.. Silverlight 4 has the potential to be the new .Net Client Platform!
And I do believe that I'm not the only one who sees this. I wonder what's going on at Adobe AIR's department right now?