What is Smart Client?
How about the best mix of Rich (aka "FAT") client and thin (ASP) client ever. Imagine having the ability to use the rich controls of a Fat client (Windows) application but deploying it like a Web application. Think of it as the "SUV" (Sport Utility Vehicle) of Software. You get the rugged durability of a truck (i.e. Fat client) and the finesse and ease of use of a car(i.e. thin client).
As you can see Fat Client and Rich Client is the used to refer to a Windows application where as a Think Client is used to refer to a Web application. A Smart Client is in between the two with the best of both worlds.
Have you heard about ClickOnce?
ClickOnce is the way to deploy Smart Client applications. There are limitations to ClickOnce but there are also some amazing benefits.
How about the ability to deploy Smart Client applications as easily as you would deploy your web applications. And being able to revert back a version when you download the latest version and it's not the one you want. Also, what if the client installing the application does not have administrator rights to their PC?
Well no worries because the application will be installed in the C:\Documents and Settings\"user" and therefore doesn't require administrative rights.
You are also able to set the appropriate Security whether it's full or partial trust and include the Certificates you need.
Must have Win 98 or better and .Net Framework 2.0 installed. If you think .Net Framework 2.0 might not be installed you can include it as part of your ClickOnce install.
ClickOnce was not intended to be used to install COM or make changes to the registry. .MSI files is still the best way to deploy COM and registry changes.