Growth dynamics and microstructure of thin-film silicon simulated by a 3D dynamical numerical model are investigated. The model, recently introduced, is characterized here with its phase diagram. It reproduces the main features of the growth and microstructure of thin film silicon: amorphous to crystalline phase transition, conical/columnar shape of the conglomerates of nanocrystals, surface roughness evolution of the layer. It is observed that preferential etching of the amorphous silicon is sufficient to reproduce qualitatively the surface evolution observed experimentally. In the presence of preferential etching, nucleation of the microcrystalline phase in the simulated layers always coincides with a surface roughness increase as observed experimentally. This model opens new perspectives for the simulation of thin-film microstructure and surface morphology.