Microsoft announced the availability of Silverlight 4 beta today at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC). The company has designed the latest version of Silverlight to simplify the development and consumption of rich-media content. Silverlight 4 is more tightly knit with PCs at a programmatic level to improve the way applications and media run when outside the browser.

The latest build (4.0.41108.0) is also the first to be compatible with Google Chrome. Naturally, the beta is available for both Mac (15.4MB) and Windows-based (7.63MB) PCs. Redmond took a moment to offer a few statistics, noting that 45% of Internet-connected devices worldwide are now using Silverlight. The company also said that many of Silverlight 4's flagship features were the direct result of feedback from developers.

Microsoft showed its appreciation today, giving away free Acer Aspire 1420P Convertible Tablet PCs to many PDC attendees. The giveaway was reportedly an expression of Microsoft's gratitude toward conference-goers and developers who have supported the company during the Windows 7 release.