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Microsoft just announced Windows Azure at the PDC this year, a cloud hosting system!  This is cool because it has the ability to host both ASP.NET web sites (or WCF web services) and back-end compute components (UI less programs that run based on a queue system) with zero up-front infrastructure requirements and the ability to increase the number of systems serving it just by changing a single number!

The scaling is suddenly Microsoft’s problem as long as you write it to be queue based and to use the SDS storage system for your data, which is really very cool.

Combining this with the release of Silverlight 2.0 and you suddenly have the ability to make very-very rich applications available to end clients without the upfront investments you’d normally have to provide.

The only thing I have noticed that is a bit strange is that Microsoft have chosen to only allow developers to use the URL rather than their own domain (maybe that is just the PDC account being signed up to use!).

I tried it offline using the SDK (available at the link above) and the development experience is really quite good but I'm still waiting for access to the real thing to give it a proper test.