Silverlight 4 In Beta. Supports Google Chrome. (Plus, Screenshots of Facebook Desktop App).

Microsoft announced the availability of Silverlight 4 in beta at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) today. Some of the new features include more fluid animations, Webcam, microphone and printing support, 200 percent faster start times than Silverlight 3, deep zoom and multi-touch support and more. It now also supports Google Chrome, even though it’s just a rounding error of a browser.

One of the big capabilities of Silverlight 4 is its ability to take rich-media experiences outside the browser in client apps which will compete with Adobe AIR. The non-browser apps fully support HTML, allowing tight integration with content from the Web. It also supports notifications.

During one demo, Microsoft showed what a Silverlight version of Facebook might look like. Using Facebook’s APIs, Microsoft created a demo app which was completely reskinned, complete with news feed, contacts, and photos. Cycling through photos in the Silverlight Facebook app, for instance, was much faster than doing it in the browser. Although I’m not sure we’re oing to start to see a whole bunch of Facebook desktop apps like we do with Twitter, but the it was a good demo.

Some screenshots below of what Facebook would look like as a Silverlight app. They show a reskinned stream view, a people view, Facebook photos, and a grid view.