Facebook and Microsoft have partnered to create a standalone Facebook client powered by the new Silverlight 4 Beta technology. The client allows you to browse and interact with Facebook with a completely different interface, and a glossy one at that. To be completely honesty, the client is gorgeous, and the complete integration with Facebook legitimately makes this a better way to browse Facebook than Facebook.com itself, in my opinion.
Starting up the Silverlight client, you’re first bombarded with a series of permissions dialogs, asking whether you are are willing to allow the application to have access to every aspect of Facebook: News Feeds, Wall, Messages and more. The process isn’t overly annoying, because frankly, as Facebook users, we’ve come to expect the permissions requests before utilizng applications. The Facebook Connect permissions dialogs are pretty standard across sites, and lend a bit of authenticity to applications.
After this process, you arrive at the heart of the client, and it is quite striking in a complete black finish. Silverlight really demonstrates its strength here, with lots of available space and big fonts. Browsing is quite easy, and my various friends lists are listed along the left side of the client. The most impressive element of the new interface is the photo album on the right side, it’s a unique way of showing the recent photos within my network. The events tab is also a completely superior alternative to the way that the Facebook Events calendar can be viewed.
One glaring omission is in the system is Facebook Chat, but I imagine this is part of future releases. Another problem was the lack of search anywhere on the client: At least give me a Bing or something. Finally, I had a real problem when trying to look at some specific photos from my friends feed, I kept getting this error: “the owner of this album did not make this available to this application”. Applications themselves are not available on the client, understandably.